*Sigh*… Kids and their wheels. It all starts out so young and innocent, doesn’t it?
I remember dragging around a Fisher-Price “Little Snoopy” dog as a tot (which, other than being a beagle, doesn’t look like the Peanuts’ Snoopy at all). Then I had one of those rickety, old, metal baby walkers from the (ahem!) late 1960s. They were the baby version of bumper cars for me! Then came my love affair with roller skates and bicycles …Then there were skateboards. While I considered myself a tomboy, I never gave much thought to riding or owning a skateboard; my definitely-not-a-tomboy sister didn’t, either. The universe has a sense of humor, though, as it blessed me with 2 sons, who are now of skateboarding age and interest. Thus, I am paying closer attention to the kids I see on skateboards these days … and some of it disturbs me. Other than the obvious concern a parent has for their child’s physical safety, skateboarding has recently grabbed my attention for another reason: Attitude.
During the after-school program at my kids’ school, a group of 6 – 8 boys, ranging in ages from about thirteen to eighteen, descended up on the (K – 5) school that my kids attend. I have seen small groups of skateboarders before, but didn’t pay much attention to them, other than to be annoyed at their occasional disrespect of people (including other children) when riding on the sidewalks. However, this time it was worse.
The kids parked in the school’s back parking lot and entered through a side gate (which was intentionally left open for parents to pick up their preschoolers). A few of them then proceeded to slap down their skateboards and began zipping around the school blacktop. A few staff members asked them politely to leave, as they were clearly not students at the school and were trespassing.
Parents were picking up their children from the after-school program – adults and small children were in the parking lot and on the blacktop. The skateboarders continued to zoom around these areas, weaving around objects and jumping off of low ledges. They acknowledged the requests to leave with a sneer and a snide attitude.
It wasn’t until a few more adults – parents – repeatedly threatened to call the police that the skateboarders finally packed up and left. During the entire time they were being asked to leave, each one took turns displaying offensive, graphic hand gestures, as well as foul language. I overheard one parent say that they thought the kids had been drinking alcohol. From my estimation, these kids were mostly minors!
It was beyond disrespect. These kids had a rebellious, in-your-face attitude that I’ve rarely seen before. My 6-year-old and 9-year-old sons, as well as some other students, witnessed it all. I was appalled and frightened. Is this a common theme among skateboarding kids? While I hesitate to generalize to any group, this incident gravely concerned me.
What has been your experience with skateboarders? Do any of your children skateboard with others? Do you have any concerns about skateboarders (other than the serious risk of physical injury)? Did you share them with your kids?
About Susan Engel
Susan Engel is a mother of two, writer and parent blogger for Empowering Parents.