I don’t want to be accused of racism for this post. It is not my intent to be bigoted with it in any way.
I am simply reporting on an experience I have had on several occasions, the most recent one this weekend.
There is an indoor play place near me in Huntsville. There is a large multi-level maze with obstacles to crawl through, some large inflatable slides and bounce houses, and a ball pit. I’ll take the four-year-old there an we’ll run around and jump and get a lot of energy out. It’s great when it is super hot and muggy or rainy because it’s inside.
My son loves the ball pit. We’ll go in there and roughhouse around.
Several times when I’m playing in the ball pit we will be joined by other children.
That’s always difficult because they are not my kids. I am not going to toss a child, or bury one in balls, or play with a kid that is not my own. There is just too much liability there.
Frequently the children who join us are black boys, usually a few years older than my son.
It is clear as day what they really want is a dad to roughhouse with. That’s not me though.
That’s not the problem. The problem is that with these other kids, they get hyper aggressive.
My four year old will throw balls at me. It’s another thing to have a seven or eight year old stand over me (I sit in the ball pit to be eye level with my son) and beam balls into my face as hard as he can.
Every single time I’ve been in that situation, the child throwing zingers at me at point blank range is black.
When we get out of the ball pit, I will do my best to surreptitiously spot mom. Mom is usually on her phone or maybe talking to other moms, and every single time, mom doesn’t have a wedding ring.
There is tons of academic evidence that shows how kids, especially boys, need rough and tumble play for proper social development. Fathers are uniquely adept at rough and tumble play. Kids need rough and tumble play to learn how to regulate themselves. By playing, kids (especially boys) learn what is too hard and not fun and what is appropriate.
What has happened in the ball pit, doing my own armchair psychology, is that these are boys who have had insufficient rough and tumble play with their fathers, see a dad playing, want to join in, and have no idea how much aggression is too much aggression and I end up getting pelted with balls and my son gets upset and leaves the ball pit.
Now I’m not going to say that each one of these boys is a criminal in the making.
It does make me wonder though, if you don’t understand why it’s not fun for a stranger to pelt him in the face with balls in the ball pit at full strength, how well you will be at impulse and aggression control at sixteen or eighteen.
Maybe I’m reading way too much into this, but there are a lot of black young men killing each other in Chicago, Baltimore, Birmingham and other cities across America, and the only kids who treat the ball pit like the thunder dome are black boys with moms who don’t have wedding rings and aren’t paying attention to their kids.
Again, this post is not intended to be racist. I am simply documenting something that I have experienced more than a few times first hand, and may be part of a social phenomenon.