R-E-S-PE-C-T (and the Scene at the Fence)

“I used to belt out the words to that Aretha Franklin classic in the pre-dawn while throwing a paper route for extra money. Little did I know how important the concept of respect would be in my family relationships.”

(From my Hope for Woman June post.  It applies to the rest of this post, so I hope you will read.)

Yes, little did I know, and wow.  This story was punctuated with a couple of explanation points yesterday, by a disturbing incident that I saw while waiting at my son’s baseball lesson:

There was a baseball team practicing on the field near where my son has a private lesson now and then.  The lesson was almost over, so I walked to the batting cage to wait, and hand a check to the instructor.  Suddenly, we all became aware of a raised voice coming nearer, and we looked up to see a man and a boy from the baseball team walking off of the field.  The man was walking beside the boy with clenched fists held at his sides, barely able to restrain himself, looking down at him and screaming (and f-bombing, among other choice words) about how the boy was DONE with baseball, DONE with football, DONE with anything further he wanted to do.  The rest was blurred out.

As we watched agape, the man fell in behind the boy, and spat through clenched teeth, “Walk.”  The boy walked, shoulders hunched.  Apparently he did not walk fast enough, as they approached an alley shielded from the view of the other team members (but not from us) by a wooden fence.  The man kept saying, “WALK,” and although the boy was walking, the man began to shove him from behind as he said it.  Now, the boy stumbled forward with each push.

When they got behind the fenced area, to our horror the man actually shoved the boy into the fence, and then got near his face and grabbed his jersey in a wad, and continued his screaming, cursing tirade.  At that point, our baseball instructor (thankfully) called the police.  An assistant coach of the team cleared out the other players from earshot of what was going on, and began to call to the man.  The man ignored him, and the seemingly endless tirade continued unabated as the man slammed the boy into the fence again and began dragging him away.

The assistant coach and a woman eventually went over to the man and boy, but did not try to stop the spectacle.  They coach attempted to mediate, apparently siding with the man, and the woman merely folded her hands across her chest and watched.  The boy tried to walk away several times.

Eventually, the police arrived, and the din subsided.  We discovered the boy was 14 years old.  We also discovered that the man was his father. Throughout this spectacle, we could hear the words the father said to his son, and we all flinched with each terrible, verbal blow.  The man repeatedly blamed his son for the whole incident.  The pain of simply watching this event was with us all for hours. I can’t imagine how long the pain of it will remain with that boy.

Our baseball instructor (a big, strong former college player) was shaking so badly he couldn’t continue our lesson.  My 13-year-old son, and some of the other players on the boy’s team, were near tears.

My son and his baseball instructor said the verbal barrage had been building throughout team’s practice.  They heard only the father’s words, yelling at the top of his lungs about things such as how the boy was not hustling enough, (jogging instead of running) and ordering the son off the field from time to time.  They never heard any words from the son. During the entire scene that followed, and the screaming and pushing at the fence, the issue at hand (according to the father) was the son’s lack of respect for him.

What do you think?

We all were left wondering what must happen between the man and the boy when no-one is watching.

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4 Responses to R-E-S-PE-C-T (and the Scene at the Fence)

  1. adam says:

    WOW! I can not imagine what that was like! I went from omg while i was reading it, to being mad at the dad at how he was treating the boy, to be very sad for the boy. I hope to never hurt my children. There are times when they are disciplined for their actions and behavior and they are upset with that out come. But I hope to never truly hurt them to where it scars there personality or character or who they become.
    I went to my 5 year old sons end of the year party at school and i stepped out of the room for just a second and recieved a text from my wife that he was looking around for me. So to know and understand the influence and love and yearning for my attention and approval that he has for me and wants from me as well is an amazing thing to grasp. Again that song comes to mind ” I want to be like You, because he wants to be like me,” I hope again that I can keep my kids as a quiver of arrows to which I can shoot them further into a relationship with God than I have, and that they can be successful in their own right mores so than me. Thanks for sharing this story, it is a reminder of how precious my attitude is and needs to be when it comes to rearing my children.

    • Thank you, Adam. I told the story so as to maybe help some other family. God showed me my snapping at my son described here was the same root sin, though. So, I’m working to remember to submit to God FIRST before I deal with my son, and to offer my son the same respect I would offer some stranger sitting beside me on a bus.

      You are a great dad, Adam. Thanks for your input.

  2. Susan Shipe says:

    Stephanie, I want to cry for the boy; I want to swing hideously at the father – those words will never leave that boy’s ears, they will permanently engrave themselves into his young heart and he will take the scars into adulthood and only by the grace of The Father will he ever forgive. I almost wish I hadn’t read this and yet, my eyes would not stop. My husband was abused like that and right now I just want to talk with him and affirm him and encourage him and tell him, “It’s okay, you are good at what you do, you are loved.” My husband is 64 and he still longs to hear those words from his earthly father – but he is long in a grave – only eternity will prove…where.

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