I have to admit, when I first heard about the “Ball Pit Dad” video, I thought it was probably much ado about nothing, and yet another example of the Judgy Judgertons of the world weighing in on things that were none of their business – after all, that’s a national sport in Canada, one we play even better than hockey. And parents are among the worst offenders.
But then I watched the video, and found myself wishing I could have been there to stop it.
You see, the video is shot from the point of view of a Dad who has climbed into one of those massive playscapes with his 4 year-old son. And before I go further, I should give him a ‘thumbs up’ for that. Those places can be exhausting for parents, and from his commentary in the video it sounds like they go there frequently. Way to take one for the team.
However, things quickly go downhill. The child starts trying to throw those familiar, soft plastic balls and hit the side of one of those tunnel-tube things that the kids go through like a maze. Dad chuckles at this, and then proceeds to explain that his version of his son’s game is to take those same balls, and bank them off the tube in such a way that they hit his son in the face. “I try to hit the tube, and then his face,” he says.
Then, after explaining to the viewers that hitting his kid in the face with a ball is his intended goal, he laughs uproariously when the little guy takes a couple in the kisser. His son, confused, calls out his Dad on it, and says “That hit me in the head.” Dad laughs again and starts saying things like “it was an accident”, “it’s not my fault”, and “I think it’s the balls – the balls are broken.”
So let’s recap: We liked that he took his kid to a fun place to play. But then, he starts trying to hit his kid in the face with a ball – and when he does, he laughs at the boy and lies to him about whether he’s doing it on purpose, and then tries to shift the blame somewhere else.
That, friends, is how you raise a bully: You teach your kids that other people are simply tools for your entertainment, and that people who can’t understand, or can’t really defend themselves, aren’t worthy of things like respect and truth. Nope – it’s actually good when you can shoot a mean-spirited video of somebody you’ve taken advantage of, and put it online for other people to laugh at.
There’s also an especially disturbing, even more malicious side to this video, and that’s in how he describes it on his YouTube channel. In the description, he says, “There’s nothing like putting your balls in a 4-year-old’s face.”
Oh, I’m sure with this guy as his Dad, there’s plenty more that’s even more humiliating. What’s amazing is that people are leaping to the Dad’s defense. Although many of the negative comments get removed (or get so many negative votes that they simply aren’t shown unless you go out of your way to see them), one of the more thoughtful commenters suggested that it was refreshing to see a parent not treating their child like a fragile, priceless Ming vase.
I’m not a fan of the “bubble wrap and duct tape” crowd either. However, I’m pretty certain that there are myriad ways a parent can “toughen up” a kid without resorting to this kind of garbage. I would never stoop so low as to say this guy’s a “bad Dad”, because from the sounds of what people say about him, he absolutely adores his kid. And one 80-second video in no way, shape, manner or form puts me in any kind of position where I’m fit to judge someone else. (I belong to that “judge not, lest ye be judged” crowd that feels like only The Big Guy is fit to judge anyone, and anyone else who tries is just being an ass.) All I’m questioning is what happens in this one video.
Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m being too soft on my eight year-old by treating her with the same respect that I expect her to demand from others when she grows up. Maybe it’s bad that I’m going to teach my kid that it’s not okay when someone makes fun of you, and that it’s not okay to do it to someone else.
God, I hope it’s not just me.
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