By Crystal Thompson
Recently I've noticed an abundance of very young children wandering aimlessly on the streets of Havre, and I wonder where the parents of these children are.
No, I am not an old crone fussing and cussing about kids these days.' It wasn't too long ago that I was a youngster myself. However, I am appalled to see children who appear to be no older than 3 or 4 running along the sidewalks and all too often out into the streets with no adult anywhere in sight.
Havre is not the inner city, and it is very rare that a child is killed or abducted in our area, but that's not saying that it won't or can't happen. It only takes a second for tragedy to strike, and when it does, there's no changing the fact that all too often, it could have been prevented.
For instance, as I drove by a Havre park last month, I noticed a child who was barely old enough to walk, standing against the park fence. The closest supervision of the young boy that I could see was a group of girls, who appeared to be between the ages of 7 and 9, playing on a merry-go-round at the other end of the park. Now, whether these girls were meant to watch the child, or if there was an adult somewhere who had mysteriously disappeared as I drove by, I don't know. What I do know is that there was a large unsupervised area not more than 15 feet from the street where this small child stood; and I wondered aloud, as I've become rather accustomed to doing, "Where is that kid's parent?"
Should a 7 year old be able to ride his bike down first street? I guess it depends on the child and the family rules. But, parents must know how dangerous the streets of this town can be. Havre is no metropolis, but it has its rush hours, and God knows, its bad drivers. Small children on bicycles and skateboards are easily overlooked by rushing motorists. Parents should know of their child's whereabouts at all times.
I've heard local store and restaurant workers complain numerous times about children coming into their establishments and being loud and obnoxious, riding bicycles into stores, and getting into displays.
While these children are out being holy terrors, their parents are sitting at home assuming that their kids are being safe and polite. When the police are bringing these same kids home at 15, the parents wonder "where did we go wrong?". How about 10 years ago, when you'd rather send your child out of sight and out of mind then spend time with them teaching them morals, manners, and respect!?
It's amazing, but I've noticed that even when some parents are with their children, they still allow them to have free reign. For example, I was in a restaurant a while back, where two children were playing in the salad bar. They were sticking their fingers in the food, and spilling salad dressing all over. Where were their parents? They were enjoying their meal at the table, and looking on as if nothing was wrong. Not once while I was present did they ask their children to return to their seats. It was ridiculous.
Not a week goes by that I do not come across this behavior in Havre. Whether I'm slamming on my brakes to avoid a collision with an eight year old bicyclist, being plowed over by a ten year old coming out of the grocery store, or watching a barefoot four year old running down the sidewalk; it saddens me to see how these children are living. I do not blame these children, however, because I know that they have never been taught anything different. I blame the parents who allow their kids to grow up uneducated and rude.
Now, I know that children do not automatically stop what they're doing whenever they're asked. I know how embarrassing it can be when your child throws a temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store. I'm not talking about that type of behavior. Children scream, whine, and cry, and most of it is just a part of being a kid. But another part of being a kid is learning right from wrong, it's learning respect for others and simple common courtesy.
If you can't be parent enough to teach your kids basic manners, then don't get pregnant. It's amazing to me that the children who are riding their bikes down the middle of the street and mouthing off to store clerks, are the children who have eight brothers and sisters out doing the same thing. Maybe these parents haven't figured out where babies come from, I'm not sure.
I am sure, however, that being a parent is more than just being near your children. Parenting means caring enough about your kids to consider their whereabouts and their actions at all times. Parenting is a full-time job no matter how you look at it, and its time to consider the consequences of parental actions.
If children are not corrected, they will carry that lack of common sense into their adult life. A disrespectful child becomes a disrespectful adult, and certainly Havre has enough of those already.