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Know Thy Self


By Kevin Sheehan, Special Columnist

Regardless of weekly content, this column is designed to help others expand their way of thinking and promote creativity, empathy, and thought in general.

      I was at Chic-Fil-A with my kids (they have the best play place) and while they were playing, a little kid with a gray shirt came up and started playing with them. After a few minutes, his method of playing became a little rougher. He started play fighting, and then kicked two other children.

Being the only parent who actually sits in the play place while their children are playing, I do my best not to tell other children how to behave. I make sure my children are being the best little humans they can be, but I also try to not let them be bullied. I was about to speak up about the kid kicking, but then the other kids turned around and ran away. Waiting hesitantly, I watched the scene unfold as the kid who kicked run after the other kids pretend to have a gun and make shooting noises.

The other kids fully avoided him, to the point that the child started getting frustrated. I heard him mutter “Why are they running away from me?” Soon afterwards, he ran to his mother and said, “Mom, they are all running away from me and won’t play with me!” His mother, oblivious to what had happened, simply told him not to worry about it.

There are so many things I want to say about this situation. First, anytime we find ourselves alone, we need to have an honest self-examination. Why are we alone? Did we push people away with how we treated them? While some people may put up with mistreatment, the majority will not permit it and leave. Did we push people away with our words or our actions?

Remember, nobody usually believes they are the bad guy. A spouse who may physically abuse the other may be genuinely surprised when the other leaves. It is quite an interesting concept, the justification of actions that are wrong, yet how the fault lies with the victim.

Second, the mother is the situation is wrong. If she was taking time to monitor her child, she would see that actions that caused the other children to run away. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that parents are responsible for teaching and training their children. However, she was absent and pre-occupied.

Which leads me to my next point, and even opposite end-of-the-spectrum point. Who is teaching this child? Video games? Movies he is watching? Children need to be guided, and told how to behave. So when the child has no guidance, and no positive and responsible influence, can he be blamed when he misbehaves? Perhaps he has nobody to teach him this.

As an adult, sure, we can sit and say that anyone should know people don’t want to be kicked. All it takes is basic life experience to know that nobody likes being mistreated. So why does this child think it’s okay? As much as I was initially frustrated at his actions, especially when my children are involved, I feel bad for him.

Which leads me to my final point: I did not say anything to this child. I regret that. I don’t like it when people tell my children things, but if my child were in danger and a stranger kept them safe, I would be grateful. We all need to learn from somewhere, and sometimes we can help teach. And I always want the world to be a better place, so I should help others appreciate it as well. It is as simple as reversing the situation. “How would YOU feel if the kids kicked you? Would you want to play with them?”

So much can be taken away from this. Everyone in this situation needs to think about their actions, and really self-examine. Honestly, it has been a week since it happened, and I’m still thinking.