December 11, 2014

Oklahoma boys training for rodeo make the New Yorker writer think about "a playground near my house in Brooklyn, in Park Slope."

"A couple of years ago, it was beautifully renovated by the city, with a rock-lined stream meandering through it and an old-fashioned pump that children could crank to set the water flowing. The stream was the delight of the neighborhood for a while, thronged with kids splashing through the shallows and floating sticks down the current. Yet some parents were appalled. The rocks were a menace, they declared. The edges were too sharp, the surfaces too slippery. A child could fall and crack her skull. 'I actually kept tapping them to check if they were really rocks,' one commenter wrote on the Park Slope Parents Web site. 'It seemed odd to me to have big rocks in a playground.' Within two weeks, a stonemason had been brought in to grind the edges down. The protests continued. One mother called a personal-injury lawyer about forcing the city to remove the rocks. Another suggested that something be done to 'soften' them. 'I am actually dreading the summer because of those rocks,' still another complained."

From "The Ride of Their Lives/Children prepare for the world’s most dangerous organized sport" by Burkhard Bilger.

50 comments:

rehajm said...

Conclusion: Brooklyn residents bear children with exceptionally soft heads.

richard mcenroe said...

One of the most entertaining events at any rodeo is the "Mutton Bustin'"...kids as young as four or five riding stampeding sheep as far as they can across the field before they fall off.

Then there is the calf-tagging event, where kids are turned loose to snag tags off calves for prizes. The calves take one look at the wall of kids charging them, say, "Oh hell no," and take off in all directions. Hysterical...

richard mcenroe said...

Those Brooklyn parents are most likely hipster expatriates from Manhattan who are gentrifying the original life out of Brooklyn.

Ann Althouse said...

@richard mcenroe

The article is has a lot about the young kids learning by riding sheep and calves in the early years.

"The four-to-six-year-olds ride sheep, the seven- and eight-year-olds are on calves, the nine-to-eleven-year-olds on steers, and the rest on increasingly fearsome bulls."

SGT Ted said...

Its not so much that soft headed women complained about the realities of rocks, but that other people jumped to comply with their idiocy.

Rick Turley said...

Looked up a video of the referenced J31 (Bodacious) bull. That is a a full ton of really, really bad attitude. Had no idea an animal that big can get that far off the ground and twist like that.

Owen said...

When children are luxury goods (investment through college: easily 7 figures) they have to be protected. The cost of such protection --never mind the bill for grinding off the sharp corners of every rock in Brooklyn-- is stunted and deformed character. But that's not quickly or easily seen by the enablers, so the dance goes on.

BDNYC said...

When you wait until your late 30s to have that one special child -- after you've established yourself in your profession, won the respect of friends and peers, and so on -- you simply cannot afford to take any risks with that child. You likely will not be able to "replace" that child if something goes wrong -- at least not without enormous expense and difficulty.

This is the normal Brooklyn parent mindset.

kcom said...

"When children are luxury goods"

That is the baseline explanation for all of this.

It's r/K selection theory in action, modern Brooklyn style.

richard mcenroe said...

You get a couple of cryers once in awhile, they're kids after all, but most of the kids on those sheep are tigers, those sheep have to work to shuck them off.

richard mcenroe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ctmom4 said...

These are the kids who will grow up and write demands from their Ivy League perches about how they are too traumatized by a grand jury decision to take exams.

richard mcenroe said...

Duplicate post.

richard mcenroe said...

Wanna see a scary bull, try to find video of "Chicken On A Chain." That thing was monstrous.

I think it has since been put out to stud. On locomotives.

Tibore said...

The paragraph immediately afterwards:
"The parents at the camp flipped this attitude on its head. They valued courage over caution, grit over sensitivity. They revelled in the raw physicality of boys. The mothers sat in the bleachers taking videos and hollering advice—“Wyatt, just ride the way Daddy taught you!” The fathers straddled the chute, leaning over their sons to cinch the rope and shove the calf into position: “Are you ready?” “Yes, sir!” “You’ve got to take the fight to him.” “Yes, sir!” “You’ve got to want it.” When the gate blew open, they leaped up on the rail and watched their sons with clenched fists and narrowed eyes. They weren’t stage parents, for the most part. They just took following your bliss to its logical extreme. “I’d let my kid do whatever he has a passion for,” one mother told me, “even if he wanted to be a piano player.""

Sure, that's a contrast to Brooklyn. But the Oklahomans are soft compared to some really harsh country's societies. Go look up the brief vignette a soldier in Afghanistan once gave: They were on a long hike (don't recall how long, just that it took most of a day) when the youngest child - 5 years old? 6? - in the group of civilians started crying and lagging. A soldier thought it wise to pick him up and carry him the rest of the way. But the boy's father actually scolded the soldier, saying that life was hard, the kid needed to be taught toughness, and that the soldier wasn't helping.

A less physical but no less onerous story comes from my own mother, who otherwise actually led a comfortable life. She noted that when she was pregnant with me in Manila, she cried often over the children who's "jobs" it was to comb over the landfill piles of refuse for salvageable things to either sell or use. Literally small kids going over hill sized piles in a garbage dump. It's what drove her to enthusiastically agree with dad about coming to America.

Those kids... now that's hard living.

Some may laugh at the Brooklyn parents overreaction, others may be aghast at Oklahoman parents exposing their kids to such danger, but in both cases, the lives are still sheltered and comfortable enough to where such choices of life are even available. It's not a hard life until your circumstance is not of your own choice. I'd never say that hardship doesn't exist in America, Western parts of Europe, affluent parts of Asia... but for the most parts, what counts as dangerous in those settled societies gets laughed at in harsh ones.

It's only in safe, protected, peaceful and developed nations where people can consider cases of well fed kids sleeping in comfortable beds, supervised by loving parents and caring chaperones while they do what they want as being polar opposite situations to each other.

Anglelyne said...

I'm OK with this. My children are going to eat their children.

madAsHell said...

Everybody must get stoned!!

MayBee said...

My two favorite contestants on The Amazing Race have been two cowboy brothers from Oklahoma.
They are always kind to each other and never get flustered.
My least favorites are Margie and Luke, a mother and (deaf) son. Luke is always protected by his mom and even as an adult is a big cry baby.

We don't need to bubble wrap our children. I don't think it creates good adults.

Owen said...

" Ctmom4 said...
These are the kids who will grow up and write demands from their Ivy League perches about how they are too traumatized by a grand jury decision to take exams.

12/11/14, 10:16 AM"

Ctmom4: what you said. The pathology is widespread and chronic. And tragic, really: because it is a good and proper thing for parents to love their children and want the best for them. But it goes wrong.

exhelodrvr1 said...

This attitude is why we have to put so much effort into the grouse/drilling issues, when your common sense is screaming "WTF!?"

Tibore said...

Heh! This is actually a fun article.

" At one point, I watched one of the fourteen-year-olds leave the arena after getting thrown off his second bull. He sat down, took off his helmet, and smashed it into his forehead. Then he did it again, methodically, five times in a row. “That’s gotta hurt,” someone next to me said. It was the first time I’d heard that at a rodeo."

The Drill SGT said...

Rick Turley said...
Looked up a video of the referenced J31


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoeDSZEmh8M

The only thing that saves most of those riders after they fall from a ton of murderous retribution is the fact that bulls have poor eyesight and the Rodeo clowns, who deserve a lot of credit.

Man that is an ugly Bull.

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...

I usually don't read New Yorker articles but that was a good read. I relate to the cowboys, having been to a fair number of rodeos in my younger days. It's interesting that both groups, the NYC helo parent readers and the OKC Rodeo parents will have a hard time relating to the behavior of their counterparts.

softening rocks sets a new low...

Christopher J Feola said...

@Tibore said "A less physical but no less onerous story comes from my own mother, who otherwise actually led a comfortable life. She noted that when she was pregnant with me in Manila, she cried often over the children who's "jobs" it was to comb over the landfill piles of refuse for salvageable things to either sell or use. Literally small kids going over hill sized piles in a garbage dump. It's what drove her to enthusiastically agree with dad about coming to America."

To sell, or use, or to...eat. Magic Mountain still haunts me, decades later. Like your mom and dad, my wife and I decided to raise our kids here. And if you ever want to see an epic beatdown, have someone mention "poverty in America" to my wife, who will explain, in that iron fist in velvet glove Filipina way, that there is no poverty here. Because the number one health problem of actual poor people in, say, the Philippines is not obesity. It's starvation, followed closely by malnutrition.

Here's the thing about Magic Mountain -- the ironic name given to the endless village that keeps reappearing in the Manila landfill. It keeps reappearing because, bad as it is, people keep moving there from somewhere worse.

mikeski said...

@MayBee -

My two favorite contestants on The Amazing Race have been two cowboy brothers from Oklahoma.
They are always kind to each other and never get flustered.


Yep. Jet & Cord. "Good gravy!" Love those guys.

My least favorites are Margie and Luke, a mother and (deaf) son. Luke is always protected by his mom and even as an adult is a big cry baby.

Yep, again.

Henry said...

I'm happy with my kids playing with rocks. I'm not letting them ride large animals. Motorcycles are less dangerous.

John said...

A boy named sue did not grow up in park slope.

plenty of boys named susannah probably have but that is a whole different issue.

john henry


John said...

A boy named sue did not grow up in park slope.

plenty of boys named susannah probably have but that is a whole different issue.

john henry


buwaya puti said...

The idea that people won't let their kids take any risks because they haven't any spares is right.
This may be a hidden partial cause of many modern phenomena, the collapse of entrepreneurialialism and small businesses, low rate of technical innovation, choking regulations, even the death of art and music.
Mothers crippling fears may have created an unenterprising and uncreative couple of generations. Maybe a healthy culture requires a certain birth rate.

Kate Danaher said...

I have always thought that there was an element of competition in mothers showing off who was the most hyperprotective mommy.

FullMoon said...

Three year old riding tricycle inside home falls and needs a few stitches. Child protection services called by hospital, parents chastised for letting kid ride without helmet.

tim maguire said...

I'm not surprised. Except that it sounds like they are describing Pier 6 park, which has all of these things, a pump, a stream, rocks and for the 2 years Pier 6 and I co-existed in Brooklyn, there were no complaints, even though there were a few significant injuries.

tim maguire said...

buwaya puti said...The idea that people won't let their kids take any risks because they haven't any spares is right.

I have to believe there is an element of that--my parents had 9 kids and it's unbelievable what they let us do. And all 9 of us are still alive. But supoose one of us got killed? My parents would be devastated, of course, but with 8 kids left, the dynamic of the house wouldn't have changed much.

Meanwhile, I have 1 child. All my eggs are in that 1 basket and if something happened to that child, every aspect of the rest of my life would be dramatically altered.

buwaya puti said...

Re: Filipinas
Iron hand in velvet glove is right. US feminists may want to have a look. That is actually a matriarchal culture, where its barely hidden that women run things in the background. That country is way further along in "feminist" accomplishments than the US was, in spite of being poor and backward. And they do it without being unfeminine or lesbian, and without storm and strife.

Biff said...

I'm starting to understand this whole Eloi versus Morlocks thing.

Biff said...

By the way, the linked article had some great photography. From the looks on their faces, I'd wager that the young mutton busters, Jadeyn Lara and Shayne Spain, are more likely to become truly strong, independent, liberated, self-actualized women than most of their sheltered Park Slope contemporaries.

Biff said...

Continuing the "people won't let their kids take any risks because they haven't any spares" idea, I'm thinking of my sister and her kids.

With the first kid, Sis was all, "No-no-no-no-no! Stop-stop-stop-stop! Careful-careful-careful-careful!"

With the second kid, Sis was all, "Keep doing that, and you'll be sorry!"

With the third kid, Sis shifted to, "Don't bother me. You know where the first aid kit is."

Helenhightops said...

Biff is right. The picture of the two little girls is precious.

paminwi said...

On a vacation to Colorado we went to a rodeo. Boys between 5-8 were allowed into the center arena to try to get a ribbon off the tail of a calf. My son, age 6, city boy that he was (from Madison), had on a new pair of cowboy boots and a new cowboy hat. He ran around that arena with 6-7 other boys and had the time of his life. He now lives in Brooklyn and tells that story to his real big city friends and they can't believe you can do that to that poor little calf.

You never know as a parent what will stick with your child from a vacation as a great memory!

Bill said...

Years ago, I fell into conversation with a National Park Service employee at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. When I complimented her on silencing a group of rowdy teens across the pond, she drawled, "People need to show respect here. It's like a church." (pron. chorch.)

She was both lovely and tough. I had the impression of someone who could plug a moving rabbit with her sidearm, and hem a dress at a moment's notice.

Big Mike said...

The parents in Oklahoma are raising their sons to be men. The Brooklynites are raising their sons to be children all their lives.

RonF said...

I once had business with my Park District board, so off I went to their meeting.

First up was a woman who thought that the benches in the park were clearly a hazard. Why? Well, they were made of wood! Wood can splinter! The parb district should rip them all out and put in plastic or aluminum ones.

The second person up was another woman, who was scared that children might fall off the sides of the slides. She suggested that boards should be fastened on both sides of the slides to make chutes out of them so that the children could not fall off. She did see one difficulty, however - some of the moms' rear ends would be too big to allow them to slide down the slide holding their child.

Seriously. You can't make this stuff up. I was just biting my tongue the whole time.

I'll give the park district board credit - they told her "We have our insurance company come in every year and they tell us we meet all national standards." instead of doing what they asked.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

I am pretty sure it was in the movie A Mighty Wind (about folk music) one of the characters shows a picture of himself growing up as a kid in brooklyn.

The picture is memorable because he is astride a pony AND wearing a motorcycle helmet. I think he was supposed to be 7-8 years old at the time.

"Shoot low, boys, he's riding a Shetland!"

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Here is something I just noticed today:

At lunch I wanted to post a comment from my phone and it displayed the captcha to prove I am not a robot.

I could not read the captcha so tried posting anyway and it went up.

Tonight I am home at my laptop and just posted a comment. I wondered what would happen if I ignored the captcha.

Nothing, as it turns out. My note went through as if the captcha didn't exist.

So what is the point of it? Robots are not smart enough to figure this out?

And I don't get a captcha all the time. Seems a bit random and I had gone some months, maybe a year, without seeing one.

So what's up with these, Ann/Meade?

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

And when I just posted that note about not needing a captcha, I got asked to enter one again.

This time a house number "239"

I wondered what would happen if I entered the wrong captcha so entered 18A.

Note posted with no trouble at all.

I have long thought captchas were annoying but was willing to live with them as I thought they served a useful purpose. Now I find that their only function is to be annoying.

Thanks, Google.

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

One last comment:

Entering "Fuck you, Google" as the captcha works just fine too.

John Henry

Oh, crap. Who is that beating on my door at this time of night? What are all those cars doing in my yar

RecChief said...

Glad these delicate flowers weren't around in the '30s and '40s. Or the time of my childhood for that matter.

Rabbi said...

The Drill SGT,

Please, sir, not clowns, bull fighters.

Harold said...

buwaya puti said...
Re: Filipinas
Iron hand in velvet glove is right. US feminists may want to have a look. That is actually a matriarchal culture, where its barely hidden that women run things in the background.
***
In most of the happy marriages I know, such as mine, that's pretty much the way things are. My contribution is being the breadwinner. It's old fashioned and cliched- but it works.