Friday, April 21, 2006

Regulate my children, please....

This is the letter I am sending to the Toronto District School Board.

To Whom it may concern:

I am writing to express my concerns about the number of parents and children flagrantly violating school board rules on our play grounds.

Last weekend I took my two daughters – ages 5 and 10 – to a local playground adjacent to Anson Public School in Scarborough. As they were playing, I happened to glance up at a sign carrying the Toronto School Board logo that listed four rules.

One of the rules said: “Walk, don’t run”.

I immediately shouted to my oldest daughter who was in the process of running after her soccer ball. I took her aside, showed her the sign and explained how important it was for her to follow the rules.

“But dad”, she said to me, “I’m a kid and I’m playing. Kids are supposed to run when they play”.

Imagine, a ten year old girl having the audacity to question school board rules. I was appalled at her response and gave her a 5 minute time-out, during which time I lectured her about how our society and civilization are based on rules and regulations and without them, there would be anarchy. I thought she understood, but no sooner had I let her rejoin her sister in the playground, than she started running again. Her sister did too.

I was feeling mortified until I noticed that all the other kids were also running around and their parents were saying nothing about it. So, I walked over to the mother of one particularly rambunctious little boy and politely pointed out the sign to her and asked her to please stop her child from running around. She looked at me like I was an alien or something and walked away. I then approached a few other parents with the same request. One of these shrugged and said “What can you do?” Another told me to bugger off. But, it was the reaction of the third that really got my blood boiling. When I pointed out that it was a rule of the School Board that kids were not to run in the playground, do you know what she said? She said, "Apparently these social activists have nothing better to do than regulate the speed a child’s legs are permitted to move. They should be spending their time figuring out how to teach our semi-literate high school grads some proper grammar.” You could have knocked me over with a feather. Who could have known that people could harbor such unsavory sentiments?

I spent the next half hour watching my kids like a hawk and calling out to them every time they started to run. Twice I had to give them time outs and a lecture about respecting rules. Finally, I just gave up and took them home. As we walked away, I looked back over my shoulder at the uncivilized kids running around on the playground and their disrespectful, rude parents. Oh well, at least someone knows right from wrong, I thought to myself.

I have no idea how these people can sleep at night. What sort of example are they setting for their children? Just because kids tend to run around all the time is no reason to let them. Disallowing running in a kid’s playground may be about as nutty as disallowing eating in a restaurant, but, hey, that’s no reason not to do it anyway.

Sadly, though, all too often we forget that rules are like virtually anything else in life. When you don’t have any, you realize how badly you need them. But when you have too many you just stop noticing them. The trick is in striking the correct balance. Just remember, with every frivolous, politically correct, nonsensical rule you people come up with; the less respect children will have for the really important rules.

Everyone at that playground, adults and children alike, recognized how ineffective and downright silly it is to post a no running rule at a kid’s playground. Why then, did this simple fact elude you?

It is important that the people running our school boards live in the real world and create real life solutions to real life problems. Running in a play ground is not a problem crying out for a solution. It is a natural and healthy childhood behavior.

And anyway, shouldn’t you be focusing on more important social engineering initiatives like maybe helping our obese kids lose weight. Just don’t recommend that they go running, at least not in our school playgrounds. After all, that would create a policy conflict. And we couldn’t have that.

Yours Truly,


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