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Don’t call me Granny, unless I am your Granny

“Hey Granny! I like your red pants.” “Hey red pants…”
This is what I had to listen to earlier this week as I attempted to navigate the walking path at Southview Park.
I love walking and I need to walk regularly for my health. Ever since I discovered Southview Park, not long after I started working at The Daily News, I began going on my lunch hour, lacing up my sneakers and enjoying the serenity of the park.
I enjoyed it until the day earlier this week, when a group of students, clearly on some sort of recess from summer school, unleashed on me. There were at least 20 or more kids, averaging anywhere in age from nine on up. My first thought was that this was great for them to get out and enjoy the day along with the facilities. They were climbing on the playground equipment and seated at the picnic tables under the shelter. Three adults sat together on one park bench outside the shelter, heads close together as they chatted amongst themselves – unaware as to what mischief their charges were involved in.
As I made my first round on the path, I thought I heard a reference to the red pants I was wearing, but shrugged it off, thinking I truly hadn’t heard right. As for my “red” pants, as a licensed, certified color therapist, I choose the color of my clothing carefully and there is always a reason for the colors I wear each day.
I do get into my walks – after all – they are for my health. I get focused on the nature around me and spend this time walking and enjoying the time as an hour away from my job and my desk. It’s my daily “me” time.
By the time I made the second round of my walk, I heard the above-mentioned catcalls, in addition to someone singing “Old McDonald…” which I’m still not sure if it was a reference to my lovely summer outfit coupled with my old walking sneakers.
I ignored the kids – taking the advice I always gave to my son who spent a number of his school years being bullied. As I continued through the parking lot to make my last round through the park, I saw the three adult supervisors still sitting – heads together and chatting. They were still completely unaware that the kids in their charge were being rude, ignorant and disrespectful.
My third and final round almost completed, the kids were nearly apoplectic trying to get my attention. I continued to ignore them, got into my car and drove away to find somewhere else to eat my lunch.
I realize kids will be kids. However, when did parents stop teaching their kids to behave and respect their elders? When did they start teaching them to be rude and vicious to their fellow human beings?
Children are like mirrors and reflect back what they have been taught by their parents. They also learn language from their parents, yes, even the foul language. Parents are role models for their children. So what happens if we, as parents, aren’t a good role model?
The fact is I AM someone’s granny. If I had been rude to an adult when I was the age of these kids, my father or mother would have made me apologize and denied me privileges until I learned the much-needed lesson.
I have grey hair and have two grandchildren with a third one due to deliver today. I’m in my early 50s and find it insulting that this group of kids didn’t have the sense or decency to treat their elders with respect and dignity.
We taught our son to be polite and if I hear nothing else about him, the one thing we are told over and over is that he is unfailingly polite. Last year when he got his drivers license over here in Richmond, the trooper told him he’d never had a prospective driver as polite as he was. It’s a great compliment to my son, but a terribly sad statistic to report.
Why don’t kids show respect? Again, it’s because so many of the parents don’t lead by example.
One night last week I chose to shop at the superstore here in Richmond. The last aisle I had to shop in was the cat food aisle. As I rounded the corner to head down the aisle, I stopped short because there was a lady blocking the aisle. She had her shopping carriage on one side while she stood on the other side, her young child somewhere in-between. She looked up at me, making eye contact, and would not budge an inch. She watched me abandon my carriage and squeeze between her, the carriage and her young child to select my bag of litter and then repeat the effort to return to my carriage. She managed in those few seconds to teach her young child how to treat others with disrespect – a perfect example of the “me” generation.
Rude behavior in children begins with the parents who don’t teach their children good manners or to respect other human beings. It continues when other adults who are in positions of authority choose to look the other way. If they don’t “see” or “hear” the bad behavior, then they don’t have to cope with it.
This was the excuse I heard from teachers and other school personnel during my son’s childhood. Not every single authority figure looks away from these situations, yet those who do step up to the plate, are few and far between.
As I reflect back on the behavior of the children at the park, I am truly shocked, not only by their blatant disregard for someone who is their elder and who has done nothing to them, but also for the three adults who sat by so oblivious to the kid’s shenanigans that a bomb could have gone off and they wouldn’t have batted an eye. What if something had happened to one of those kids? Who was really supervising them?
I challenge the parents of today to take a second look at how they have raised their kids. To those who taught their kids the right way to show respect – kudos and praise for teaching your children the Golden Rule – the Christian way to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
To the other parents, try remembering the following when you hear your child disrespect someone like me: “the person is probably someone’s wife/husband, sister/brother, daughter/son, grandmother/grandfather or mother/father.” What if it happened to you?f

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