Sunday, November 06, 2005

Where are the parents?

More proof that I'm the most overprotective parent in the world: Friday night, my daughter played trombone at a football game with the high school band. It was "Eighth Grade Band Night," an annual event during which kids who will be in high school the following year get a little preview of what it's like to be marching on the field and playing rah-rah music in the stands. When it was over, my girl wanted to go somewhere for a snack, and we picked the nearby Burger King because it was, well, nearby. Big mistake. The parking lot of the fast food joint was filled with a giant mob of unchaperoned kids, who would have overflowed the inside of the restaurant, too, had an apoplectic manager not been stationed at the door to yell YOU HAVE TO BUY SOMETHING TO COME IN HERE. YOU CAN'T JUST HANG AROUND.

Now, I was a kid once, too, and I was in high school, and I hung out at a local eatery after football games and school programs with my friends, without parents, and I, you know, put salt shakers upside down and made messes and laughed at apoplectic managers and did the things kids do, or did back in the Stone Age. But that was high school, and that was a time when you did not open the paper every day to hear about kids being abducted or abused. My daughter saw plenty of her friends from middle school there, traveling in unaccompanied gangs, long after dark, looking young and vulnerable and in need of some parental supervision, okay? There's one boy we've known since he was in second grade, a kid I'd lay money on has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a kid who's pretty much had a "headed for trouble on the fast train" sign hung around his neck since he was in elementary school, and there he is running around Burger King, not a grown-up in sight. And you just know when these kids get in trouble, their parents are going to say, "We had no idea!" Well, folks, here's a good way to get an idea: Get your butt to Burger King. I could have used a little company over in the geriatric section.

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