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A word about 6-year-olds with bowling balls

By Tony Hicks
Monday, October 4th, 2010 at 4:31 pm in Uncategorized.

I’m back at work today, which is extremely exciting as it gives my life purpose and tangible value again, something I was lacking last week as I wandered hopelessly around my neighborhood while on “vacation,” not knowing who I was or why I’m on this Earth.

 Now I remember. I’m here to write about stupid $#@&.

So yesterday I was at my nephew’s 6th birthday party, trying to block out the sounds of screaming children enough to comprehend the magnificence of Jonathan Sanchez hitting a triple. And I started thinking about bowling parties when I was a kid (8th birthday in 1975 at the long vanished Walnut Bowl where Ross Dress for Less now sits in Walnut Creek. An older kid I invited gave me an LP of Elton John’s “Captain Fantastic” and I thought I was about the coolest thing since … ever).

Anyway, I also remember bowling was difficult. It took some concentration. Adults had to explain about the little dots, and how they related to hitting the pins, etc. It was fun, but it was kind of challenging.

Fast-forward to yesterday, where the kiddie party – like all kiddie parties at bowling allies – feature “bumpers” in front of the gutters, so the kids can’t roll gutter balls. Essentially, the consequences of not paying attention and actual failure is removed, allowing the children to feel good about themselves, everybody’s a winner, why keep score, let’s not have any hurt feelings, etc.

Which, you know, is stupid for a number of reasons. But that’s another rant entirely.

No, the real crime with having bumpers for little kids not to fail is that the kids – realizing they don’t have to spend more than three milliseconds thinking about what they’re doing – go absolutely insane, screaming, throwing balls overhand, whipping two-handers as hard as possible, etc. It was chaos. But what the hell – that’s what happens when you can’t roll gutter balls.

It was nuts. And I hate it. Just like I hate not keeping score in games and giving everyone the same sized trophy regardless of whether they win or lose. Then we bitch about kids growing up having a sense of entitlement and not being able to get up and dust themselves off when life tosses them in the mud. I’m not one of those sadistic, let your kids set themselves on fire, then throw them in a lake to see if they can swim kind of dads, But – really – bumpers? So their fragile little egos don’t suffer the scars of gutter balls? Good God …

But, again, my main complaint is that it allows them to not pay attention to what they’re doing and act like animals. And, worst of all, it keeps me from hearing sports on TV. That’s what really important here.

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