At the wave pool on the weekend something happened that epitomizes the reason that I feel all too often, extreme disgust for the general public, and why I have avoided such “fun family experiences” such as this one, for years. Stuff like this is the bane of my existence. I think it also offers a reasonable explanation for what has perhaps happened to “those kids” who then become “those youth” who display a total lack of social responsibility and decorum, and consequently evolve to become the obnoxious adults who then exhibit rude and inappropriate public behaviour. I wager a bet that most of those repulsive acts could be traced back to a situation just like this one.
My friend watched a little boy who must have been at least four years old, in other words certainly old enough to know better, tell his auntie who had been supervising him, that he needed to go to the bathroom. He was jumping around a bit and things were looking fairly urgent. The washrooms were down a cold and overly airconditioned corridor which was more than ten steps away, but they weren’t for example, on the other side of the parking lot. Nope, just maybe 20 metres from where they were standing. “Really???” she asked. “You have to pee?” “Yes,” he nodded his head emphatically, “I need to pee. Can you take me?” This woman didn’t even look around to see if anyone was listening. She glanced down the corridor, sighed exasperatedly, and said, “Oh just go in the pool. Right there.” The little boy looked at her and hesitated. He didn’t want to, but it was obvious the aunt wasn’t going with him and the child didn’t want to go alone. He walked slowly to the kiddie pool, sheepishly sat down in the water, and relieved himself in the company of at least forty other kids and their parents. I am not kidding.
I wish I had witnessed this. If I had, I would have given this idiot a piece of my mind. I would have asked the woman if she was for real? I would have asked what in the hell was wrong with her that she would not only suggest but condone that this behaviour? Kids learn in tots swimming lessons that peeing in the pool isn’t allowed! It is literally one of the very first things they are taught. This is a well known socially accepted norm, or so I thought. I would have indicated that peeing in the pool is a public health violation and then would have asked her what exactly she was trying to teach her nephew?
Would her lesson of choice have been that laziness is most certainly a reason to NOT do the sanitary thing, like use the toilet? That rules are only there if you have the inclination to follow them, but that if you don’t really feel like going to the trouble say of getting a little chilly and walking a few more steps to the toilet than is convenient for you, then what the heck, the rules go out the window. Then peeing in the pool is ok? News flash lady – this isn’t really an ‘at your discretion’ kind of thing!
Or maybe the wisdom she was trying to convey is that public property is yours to do what you want with. It is there to serve your purpose and you can treat it anyway you like. Treat it like your garbage dump, your toilet, whatever serves your immediate need, because hell, it isn’t YOUR place. It’s not your job to keep it clean or sanitary for everyone to use. That friends, is somebody else’s problem. But not yours. No way. That could be it! If she had been trying to teach the boy that, then she did a good job.
The unequivocal message she did deliver to her nephew that day, was that consequences only count if you get caught. If there isn’t someone offical standing over us and ensuring the rules are adhered to, then it is ok to break them. Strangely enough, this boy was not asking if he could go in the pool. Funny isn’t it, that even at his young age, he had no question about where it was he should empty his bladder? He knew to go pee in the toilet, where pee belongs. He seemed uncomfortable with the idea. Why didn’t his aunt?
Fast forward ten years from now when this kid is tossing his cola can onto the playground, pissing on your back fence, or simply being overly loud or rude on public transit. Or maybe he’s the kid who is just too busy with his iphone, pod and pad in between tweeting and twitting to notice anyone at all, including the elderly person who could use his seat at the bus stop or the clerk at the 7 Eleven whom he hasn’t bothered to address as he pays for his slushy. These acts aren’t all criminal, but most are examples of behaviours that just aren’t considerate or polite. They aren’t admirable. And they certainly do not exemplify anything I want my kids to model. Maybe all of this crappy behaviour could be traced back to this precise moment, when an adult this innocent child looked up to was supposed to reinforce the right thing to do. Every time. And because she didn’t, this otherwise good kid hasn’t got much of a hope for success or happiness!
Ok, maybe I am putting a bit too much emphasis on this as the TSN turning point of this little guy’s life. I am sure it won’t be. But it is sad that in this moment, he wasn’t provided the opportunity to learn that his behaviour and attitude matter. On the other hand maybe this little boy will grow up to think his aunt was an idiot that day and will actually save the world. Who knows? I sure as hell hope he is otherwise surrounded by people who think that he deserves better guidance than his aunt did.
Good luck to you little man. You know the right thing to do. Now go and do it.