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Thursday, July 31, 2014

What do kids learn when parents cross the line?

By Suzanne Perez Tobias

Those overzealous parents in Colorado Springs probably thought they meant well last year when they busted through a pink-ribbon rope at their town’s annual Easter egg hunt.

They probably took their children to the event, wicker baskets in hand, recalling the quaint Easters of their childhoods, when they and their siblings would search the backyard for hard-boiled eggs and chocolate bunnies.

That day last April at a park in the historic part of town, the way news reports tell it, they thought they heard someone say “Go!” so they scrambled for candy- and coupon-filled plastic eggs like Black Friday shoppers storm Walmart for PlayStations.

So quick was the carnage, so mob-like the mentality, that organizers decided to cancel this year’s event. They didn’t want to risk hurt feelings, injuries or worse.

Can you blame them?

This certainly isn’t the only case of parents who have crossed the line – literally and figuratively – between helping and helicoptering. And the Colorado egg hunt isn’t the only event to be canceled because of pushy parents.

I just wonder how we got to this point, where moms and dads can’t stick to the sidelines.

More disturbing than the egg-hunt fiasco is another recent story of an Indiana father who allegedly knocked his daughter’s middle school basketball coach unconscious after the coach made the girl run laps in the gym.

Friends and family members who accompanied the father to his court arraignment defended his actions.

“If the coach is (expletive) with your kid, what are you going to do?” one woman told a television reporter. “You can’t talk to him.”

Really?

I understand the need to shelter and protect. For parents, it’s part of the job description. We don’t want our kids to be hurt, teased or treated unfairly. We don’t even like them to forget their lunches, get bad grades or get cut from the soccer team.

And when we take them hunting for Easter eggs, by heavens, we want them to find a few.

Unfortunately, when some parents elbow onto the field and grab every treat in sight, others – usually the patient, rule-abiding kids – go home empty-handed. And let’s not forget the wide-eyed youngsters who were lucky just to toddle out of the way of the basket-wielding stampede. You know there had to be some of those.

One Colorado news report quoted a man who said he understood why some parents stepped into the fray.

“You better believe I’m going to help my kid get one of those eggs,” he said. “I promised my kid an Easter egg hunt, and I’d want to give him an even edge.”

Turns out those kids got more than Skittles and fun-size Twix bars. They got a jolting lesson in selfishness, greed and bullish behavior, thanks to Mom and Dad.

We can only hope they learned something.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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