What kids find and don’t find entertaining always amazes me.
There we were on the beach Sunday and the US Navy’s Blue Angels were flying overhead. No matter how many times I see it, I love watching the performers in the OC Air Show from the beach and ocean.
My kids don’t share my amazement in the least bit. Carson indulged and stood with me for a bit in the ocean watching them perform. I think he did that because it was Father’s Day. His only request was that I let him know as soon as I saw them so he could cover his ears.
Beckett came out from under the umbrella for a few minutes to watch but soon after went digging for a snack before returning to the shade of the umbrella, which was of course blocking his view of the show. He was intrigued more than impressed. Every now and again he would pop his head out and say, “let me know if you see Fat Albert coming,” referring to the Blue Angels’ C-130 aircraft that impressed him two years ago.
This same level of disinterest is on display whenever we go to Assateague Island and see the horses. I recall a day last summer when we were on the beach for a bonfire and some horses were walking along the water’s edge. As most of the adults scurried to grab a photo or two, my kids couldn’t pull themselves away from a riveting game of corn hole. Been there, done that seemed to apply.
One thing I have learned is not to force any sort of excitement on my kids. One surefire way to not get them enthralled in something is to try and explain why this or that should be found particularly special or cool. What I find meaningful and interesting is oftentimes not at all what they are into. At their age, it’s a waste of time to try and encourage them to get excited about something if they genuinely do not have an interest. As odd as it is to me, the fact at this point is military jets flying over the ocean and beach falls into the boring category. It’s probably because they have seen it every summer of their lives.
As we were leaving the beach last weekend, Beckett reminded me of the question he had asked plenty of times beforehand, “Where was Fat Albert?”
It’s become a fun tradition to take the kids to Funcade in Ocean City on the last day of school.
Afterwards we were having lunch at the Alaska Stand nearby when a group of men came on the Boardwalk. We heard them long before we saw them because their music was loud enough to hear from Baltimore Avenue. It was a clear violation of the town’s noise ordinance.
As they got to the Boardwalk, many of us were all forced to listen to filthy lyrics. The only positive was the group carried on in quick fashion and we only heard a handful of bad words. That, of course, touched off a conversation that again never needed to occur.
At one point, Beckett referred to some of the language and questioned why certain words were off limits and some were not. The conversation went in all sorts of directions but centered largely on why black people are allowed to use the “n word.” This was not great last day of school talk.
I told him at one point how when I was his age a parent likely would have confronted the young men to remind them children were around and the music was inappropriate. He asked me why I didn’t and I have to admit it never even crossed my mind. It was simply not worth the confrontation. He didn’t get it.
I took the opportunity to explain how people need to be careful with how they speak to and address strangers because we just never know how they will react. I had to tip-toe around this issue with him but I don’t necessarily here.
The problem is if I or another parent had been nice and kindly requested they turn the music down the reaction could have been extreme. The group could have simply acquiesced and done as asked but my guess is that would not have been the case. Instead, it could have turned confrontational and nasty.
The sad truth is anything is possible these days. I don’t want my children walking around scared to death of the world we face today, but they need to be aware people are different today. The simplest situations can quickly escalate to something altogether foreign with terrible consequences.
To me, that was a situation that was just not worth it. There was no reason to poke the proverbial bear in that case. It’s a sad commentary on the changing culture we live in these days, but it’s the reality.
To Beckett, it seemed like a monumental occurrence in an otherwise fun day on the Boardwalk. The good news is he won’t forget about it and seemed to understand there are times when things just have to be left alone. He reminded me later that week that he understood what I was talking about when a friend at a neighborhood party had his feelings hurt by another older kid. He told me later he wanted to intervene and stand up for his friend after he had left, but he didn’t know the other boy and thought it was better that he just stay out of it and mind his own business. He was being cautious.
I was proud of him for that.