As I was walking along the sidewalk today—a balmy, humid, sweaty, sunny day—enjoying the music playing on my iPod and looking in store windows, I was struck with something a little surprising: a pinecone. Yes, as I waited for the light to change at the intersection I was bombarded by pinecones.
I looked up, then down, then into a tree that was shading me as I stood and couldn’t find the source of the prickly missiles. The tree was deciduous so bore no cones, there was a complete absence of large birds that could carry out such a sortie, and the local cone cannon had been retired years ago. I hit pause on my iPod and that’s when I heard it, the giggles and titters of kids.
If I had been caught throwing anything at the head of an adult, I would have been taken out behind the shed by one of my parents or at the very least grounded.
I turned to find about a dozen little darlings hiding behind the fence of their school playground, doing a poor job of camouflaging themselves as they laughed and lobbed more piney projectiles at me. Now, these weren’t teens (whom you might expect to pull this kind of antic), they were wee kiddies, six or seven year-olds. I told them not to throw things at strangers as it wasn’t very nice. They replied with laughter and said, ‘so what?’
I was kind of appalled. When I was their age I wouldn’t have entertained the idea of throwing anything at an adult. I was brought up to respect my elders (which, I suppose, I am now becoming). If I had been caught throwing anything at the head of an adult, I would have been taken out behind the shed by one of my parents or at the very least grounded.
Not these little rug rats. They had absolutely no respect for me or my polite protest. I told them if they threw another one at me I’d throw one right back at them and walked on. My little ‘gotcha’ had no effect on them as I was passing on the other side of the street a few minutes later and saw them doing the same thing, pinecones littering the sidewalk and street.
A little discipline can go a long way.
I have to say I was really shocked by this. No adult on the playground came to stop them; clearly their parents haven’t instilled any sense of respect for others, so these future felons felt free to let fly the cones. Sure, it was kids throwing pinecones, big deal. I just kept extrapolating in my mind what the future would hold—and what they’d be throwing. I have had things thrown out the window of streetcars at me as I’ve pedaled past on my bike. I was hit on the head and almost wiped out. Serious and potentially injurious. The idiots weren’t expecting me to hop on the streetcar at the next stop and settle their hash.
I have been attacked by a couple of guys in their late teens who thought nothing of calling me a faggot and punching me in the face one night as I was buying chips and pop. I was in my mid-30s. The idiot who hit me didn’t know I kick-boxed until I plowed him. And, of course, if you’ve been living in Toronto lately, the brazen shootings in the Eaton Centre, Little Italy, one incident below my living room window and so on, you have to scratch your head as you dodge a bullet and wonder what the hell is going on?
Now, I’m not trying to be alarmist or say that every kid who pulls a prank is a potential threat to society. However, I think there is a line that can be drawn from kids who have no concept of civility or respect for strangers, adults, or even other kids who grow up to have a sense of entitlement and the feeling of being able to behave any way they like without fear of recrimination. A little discipline can go a long way.
photo credit: buckle1535
Tags: Andrew Vail
, Eaton Centre
, Little Italy
, Uncivil Liberties