Violence and the evening meal

Pulling the trigger on violence

“Hey pal, what’s up?”
“Hey! I got trouble with my damn kids.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. What seems to be the problem?”
“Last night they wuz shootin at cops and hoes all night.”
“What?”
“I said…”
“I heard you. That’s terrible.”
“You’re tellin me. I tried to call them little pests to dinner but they would pay me no mind. I spent a lot of cash at KFC, but it’s all good.”
“Good, what do you mean good?”
“I mean I can eat that chicken again today.”
“But the kids…what happened to the kids?”
“Hell if I know. They were at it all night.”
“What?”
“I said…”
“Yeah, yeah, I got it, but you must have terrible trouble with the police.”
“No, I don’t have no trouble. It’s those kids, they got the trouble, but I guess they’ll get the hang of it soon.”
“What…I mean, hang of it? What do you mean hang of it?”
“Well if you play them damn games long enough, you get the hang of it. You know teenagers, they’ll play ’em all night long if you let ’em”
“Games? Is this a game with them?”
“Yeah, everything is a damn game. I told my wife not to buy ’em, but she lets them have ’em anyway.”
“Wait…are we talking about video games?”
“That’s what I’m talkin about. The one day a week we can have dinner together and those little bastards won’t even get out of their rooms.”
“Why don’t you make them stop playing and come to the dinner table?”
“You must not have teenagers. They are hard enough to live with, I sure ain’t gonna make em do somethin that’ll cause me grief. They could grab a plate and join us by the TV but NO”
“How about some other night? You can make them sit down before they play games or do their homework.”
“Homework? Are you kidding? I ain’t seen ’em do homework in years. Anyway I don’t really have time any other night.”
“Oh, working late most nights?”
“Well, yeah, sorta. I mean, Wednesday is boys night out and Thursday is pool night. Friday we invite the super out cuz he’ll buy the first couple of rounds. Saturday I best do somethin with the wife or she gets pissed. Sunday there are games all day long. Monday I gotta rest so Tuesday is about the only day for the little monsters. Actually, they are big monsters now.”
“What about discipline?”
“That’s the wife’s job.”
“But the kids won’t learn anything playing video games.”
“Well they sure ain’t learnt to kill cops yet, if last night’s reactions mean much. I guess they got a few hoes.”
“Don’t you worry about them not learning respect for women by doing that.”
“Well, last week they wuz yellin, “plugged another bitch!” and I finally made them stop because their ma wuz gettin real mad.”
“So, she didn’t want to hear that language anymore?”
“No, she couldn’t hear her programs and that makes her real mad. I can’t have that. Of course, it’s partly her fault anyway.”
“It is?”
“Yeah, she buys em those damn games in the first place. If I get too mad at her she will buy that damn rap music too just to piss me off more.”
“Oh, I am beginning to understand the problem.”
“Damn right, it’s that rap music. It turns kids into evil little bastards. Want some chicken?”

***********************************************************************************

Cover of "Brokeback Mountain  [Blu-ray]"

Cover of Brokeback Mountain [Blu-ray]

In the Academy Award nominated Brokeback Mountain, Jack Twist gathers his family for Thanksgiving dinner and turns off the television so his son will sit at the dinner table and eat. The father-in-law turns the television back on because the football games are on. Jack turns it off again and when the father-in-law starts for the TV, Jack yells at him to leave it off. He angrily explains that his wife spent all day cooking for the family and they were going to sit there and eat, not watch football. It is a powerful scene of Jack trying to do what he thinks is right for the family. It stuck with me, not only because of the power of that movie, but because I could picture us sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table and looking over at a silent television. I guess now I have the television going during Thanksgiving dinner, but I do not have kids learning something other than “grace” in the next room. I never thought of myself as “old fashioned” but maybe that is what you grow up to be, if you are lucky.

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4 thoughts on “Violence and the evening meal

  1. We used to have nightly (or nearly so) family meals. Now, we don’t. My husband and I, eat together, usually in front of the TV (though it is likely off while we are eating) because the tray tables are more cozy and convenient than the big dining table for the two of us. When the whole family sits down together, about once a week, it’s pleasant for a few minutes, but everyone is off in a different direction as soon as the last bite is chewed. It’s not so terrible. Everyone has their own schedule, even “the baby” who at 16, is a young woman and wants to be with her pals. I was much the same way and I think I turned out alright.

    No one around here plays (or ever played) violent videogames. We never had any rules about it, but my son never liked that stuff and my granddaughter is more into wrestling than shooting. Funny because I remember watching wrestling on TV when I was a kid and being horrified that it was faked. So disallusioning 🙂

    It’s good to communicate, but forcing it doesn’t accomplish much. Better is having interests in common with your kids as they grow up. A lot of parents have no interest in anything their kids enjoy and seem proud of it. I doubt they even try to see if their kids’ world has anything they might find interesting. Why are they so surprised that the disinterest is reciprocal?

    As for manners, many families talk to each other and their children without a semblance of civility. They order the kids around like drill sargeants until their offspring rebel. At no point do they consider treating the children with common courtesies like “please: and “thank you.” They shout at them, threaten them, then hug them and think it’s all better. It’s NOT all better.

    Kids learn what they experience. They will treat others as they have been treated. You can’t expect good manners from kids who have never experienced respect.

    Raising kids is the ultimate example of “you get what you pay for.”

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  2. In my example, I would not know how to fix that problem. The damage is done and hard to reverse. Some parents just do not see the problems caused by the examples they set. I guess I am just writing a cautionary tale, although a bit brief.
    Few of the teenagers I know play violent video games. I have met a some that do. Some young parents play these games too, so I wonder what their small children might be learning by what they see. By the time I went to high school my parents divorced and evening meals were less frequent. We had already seen, I think, the value of family get togethers by then, even if it our bond was not enough to hold everyone together. We all did OK.
    I am against censorship but I am not against restricting access to games for those under 18. I know that is hard to enforce with middle teens, but the mere act of showing disapproval might have some lasting and positive impact.

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  3. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new
    comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can
    remove me from that service?
    Cheers!

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    • You should be able to come back to the blog and change it. On the right side column you will see a spot near the top that should allow you to manage your email alerts. I don’t think I have any ability to change it for you.

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