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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Time to be the grown-up and set example for others

This column appeared in the Oct. 6, 2012, edition of The News-Herald: 

I take a lot of ribbing because my bucket list isn’t that dazzling.

I don’t want to climb mountains or fly planes or run with the bulls.

I wish for mundane things — like going to a pancake breakfast or a fish fry.

The most adventurous item on my list is a long-craved trip to San Francisco. But the reason I want to go is certainly not that exciting — I want to see how many of spots made famous in the movie “Vertigo” are still there.

Another of the joke-worthy items that seem destined to remain on my bucket list is the Lake County Music Education Association’s marching band festival.

For the past four years, something has taken me out of town when it’s occurred. This year, I was in Tennessee at a conference when I saw our coverage on

Maybe I’ll get there one year. If history is any indication, though, it doesn’t look good.
I’ll always make time for events featuring children.

I’m endlessly fascinated by and amused by children.

It’s probably the honesty that makes me pay attention. But it might be the fun things they’re working on.

My nephews are no exception. The oldest is a sophomore at Lutheran West High School who plays on the football team. Nikolas has gone from a mild interest in sports about seven years ago when he stood at about my waist to me wondering if I’ll be at his waist when he stops growing in a few years when he’s almost certainly going to be playing college football.

His younger brother Sean is in fifth grade, and this year is experiencing his first organized football league.

PeeWee football is what it’s called, and that’s pretty accurate. The fifth- and sixth-graders wear full pads and helmets and little football pants as they take the field in full-contact football games.

It’s that last part that I focused on last weekend when I took in a Mini Horns’ game. Yes, that’s right, they’re “mini horns” — the high school team is called Longhorns. Get it?

Because the Mini Horns were the visiting team, they were stationed on the far side of the field from the stands where we sat with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Nik and a slew of other parents.

Just about the time we were settling into our seats, we noticed that among the youngsters standing on the sideline directly in front of us was decidedly different than the other children.

This young man stood head and shoulders above anyone else on the field.

Including the coaches.

A bunch of the parents were outraged when they saw him take the field. When I noticed he couldn’t really run that well, I dismissed any concerns from my mind.

I’ll admit, though, that the two forearms he laid into Sean’s chest made my blood boil.

I thought then that maybe he should be playing with bigger kids, because he’s a little too advanced for these little guys.

The parents kept up their complaints throughout the game, yelling for their kids to tackle him low and move the plays around him.

Pretty smart.

Toward the end of the game, though, the tenor of their conversation changed. It started to include a little name-calling.

When one of the fathers launched a “Lurch” toward the middle of the field, the opposing coach finally took notice.

“Are you kidding me? Are you serious? The kid’s in sixth grade. He’s a sixth-grader. He gets teased enough in class, and now you, an adult, does it? You’re an adult. You should know better.”

When the coach began speaking, a parent sprinted over and added his opinion.

“He’s in sixth grade, and you’re a jerk.”

They were both right.

It’s easy to forget when you’re watching a sporting event, that the participants in most cases aren’t professional athletes.

They’re playing to learn something and because they love the game.

When the helmets come off, there’s an instant reminder — they’re only kids.

They’re doing their best.

Sure, this kid was bigger than all the others. Yes, your kids aren’t going to be able to match up with him, or even in most cases move him.

But, you remember that he’s just like your kid — he’s young and he’s doing the best he can to help his team win.

There’s simply no reason to call him names.

Your son wouldn’t like it, would he? Be the grown-up and set the example for others to follow.
Twitter: @Lauranh


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