It was a pretty uneventful field trip as far as mishaps are concerned. No one fell off the trailer on the hayride, no one got lost in the corn maze, and no one threw a fit about which pumpkin they were given to take home. Dang. I was hoping to get some good material off this trip.
But there was this one kid. (There's always at least one.) And more specifically...his Dad.
There was a short maze made out of hay bales that the kids were allowed to play in. The only rule (pretty much for the entire place) was that they could not climb ON TOP of the bales. They told us this at the beginning during the "rules session." So, of course, the kids that didn't pay attention to the rules (or didn't give a rats ass), immediately climbed on top and started running a muck along the perimeter. Since there were several different activities in which the children could participate, the teacher was not witness to what was going on. There were a couple of moms standing around that I knew (it wasn't any of their kids), and a Dad I hadn't seen before. He was leaning up against the outside of the maze observing the chaos. Since no one was saying anything, and the motley crew of disobedient children was recruiting members by the second, I stepped in.
"Hey! Kids! They told us that you MAY NOT run on top of the hay bales! Get down before somebody gets hurt."
Most of the kids stopped in their tracks and followed directions. But one little boy - we'll call him Jimmy - looked at me like I was speaking Swahili. I could tell he was contemplating ignoring me. He took a few more steps. Then he looked back over at me and I shot him my "does something about the look on my face or tone in my voice suggest that I'm kidding why don't you just go ahead and try me" glare and he quickly decided to follow suit. But he now has my attention. For eternity.
So, I've got my eye on little Jimmy for the remainder of the outing. There wasn't much left to do except play on the hay bale pyramid (we were told they could climb this to their little hearts' content), and pick up their pumpkins. I'm standing over by the pyramid and little Jimmy runs up with his pumpkin in hand, "Dad! Look at my pumpkin!" He goes up to the guy that was "standing watch" over at the hay maze. What the hell, dude?
My problem with what happened is not that he didn't stop ALL of the kids from breaking the rules. My problem is that he didn't stop his OWN kid from breaking the rules. When I first realized what I had done, I was kind of embarrassed. I reprimanded someone else's kid in front of them. Not something I would normally do. But then I decided that was stupid. Little Jimmy needed to know what was up and if I was the one that had to tell him, then so be it.
Kids push the envelope. They are the envelope pushing MASTERS. It is our job as parents to yank their little asses back into line when they go astray. Fortunately Dimples wasn't one of the second graders gone wild in this scenario. But, I am not for one second suggesting that he hasn't had a moment or two (or ten thousand) of transgression in his little life. Years 3 and 4 were pretty touch and go for us. Anyway...if I'm not there to correct him, I would completely expect (AND SUPPORT!) another adult to step in and (appropriately) do it for me.
When we got home I asked Dimples if Jimmy got in trouble a lot and sure enough he said, "Yeah. Pretty much." Shocking. I'd be willing to bet that Jimmy rules the roost at his house. It's not for my own benefit that I care what Dad lets little Jimmy do. After all, he's not going home with me. Ever. But for Jimmy's sake, and the sake of society, he needs to learn some boundaries.
I'm genuinely terrified of what the future holds. This generation will be in charge one day.