Foolish adults

Before we say another word, we invite you to read the extract from a news story published today by Reuters News Agency.

An eight-year-old Maryland boy who was suspended from school for nibbling a pastry snack into the shape of a gun has been given a junior membership in the National Rifle Association.

After hearing about Josh Welch’s suspension from Park Elementary School in Anne Arundel County, a state legislator paid $550 to buy him a Junior Life Membership in the NRA, Welch’s lawyer said yesterday.

“I was embarrassed that my county would do that to him,” said Nicholaus Kipke, leader of the Republican minority in the lower house of the Maryland legislature. He presented the gift to the second-grader Wednesday night.

The boy’s lawyer, Robin Ficker, said he is appealing the two-day school suspension that started on March 1 when Welch ate away part of his Pop-Tart during class snack time so that it resembled a gun shape.

In Barbados, we might not be particularly fond of snacks such as Pop-Tarts, but we certainly don’t take kindly to anyone messing with our Eclipse biscuits. Which child at some point has not tried to nibble his cracker into some unusual shape — and since when has that been of concern to adults?

The Reuters story above may seem like an item to simply steupse at before dismissing, but it is really a serious matter because so often we turn our children into all kinds of ill-formed characters by our stupid actions as adults.

One takes it for granted that before the nibbling actions of an eight-year-old reaches the principal, some other junior member of staff would have been so alarmed by the presence of the Pop-Tart gun to draw it to the attention of the head. Reasonable minds would also conclude that before the decision to suspend the eight-year-old was taken some deliberation would have taken place.

Now, can you imagine that valuable administrative time would have been taken by a school to deal with this matter?

Then there is the idiotic response of the state legislator who thinks the best response to stupidity is absolute asininity — give the child life membership in the National Rifle Association.

When we have reached a certain age and qualify to be called adult, we really have a duty to the rest of society to act a certain way. Granted we will all fail at times — and there will be the odd occasion when the “child in us all” comes to the fore, but some adult actions are inexcusable.

The point is that if we want our children to act responsibly, to make sensible decisions, to respect the laws, to recognise that they are part of a community and they must therefore always remain cognisant of the whole, then we have to set the example.

And it is not about the United States that we speak now, but how we conduct our business here in our neck of the woods. We tell our children they must obey the rules, wave before them the maxim “ignorance of the law is no excuse” then read of a principal who suspends a child indefinitely when the rules say the maximum time is ten days.

We tell our children about respecting authority then walk into a school and assault the principal. We tell our children to act like children, then dress them up to look like us when we go out. We send our children to Sunday School and remind them it is sinful to steal, but when we shoplift or otherwise cheat we have no problem justifying it to our children with: “He got money! He can’t miss it!”

Then collectively we invoke terms like “wayward children” and “lost generation” to try to absolve ourselves of any blame for how our children turn out. We are sorry, but our offspring don’t wake up with warped thinking one morning because of a dream the night before. It comes very often from the stupidity and double standards demonstrated by the adults they mimic.

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