Tag, you’re outWritten by Bob Frantz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
”Hi, I’m Jaiden, wanna play? Tag, you’re it!”
Just like that, my 4-year old daughter, who’s about as shy as her big-mouth dad is, is off and running. Without exception, some kid who will be her new best friend until she leaves the mall’s play area will chase her like she stole her last cookie. Within minutes, she’ll become the Pied Piper of the playground, leading a procession of previously private pipsqueaks in a manic game of chase-the-stranger until their parents make them stop.
She’s been instigating public games of tag since she was two, which means my not-so-innocent little girl has been putting other kids in danger at playgrounds and shopping malls all over Northwest Ohio for more than 2 years. There was a time when I thought her mischievous antics were cute, but I now realize her reign of terror must stop.
Thanks to a Spokane, Wash., elementary school principal, who last week revived the national call to remove all things perilous from children’s lives by banning the barbaric pastime, perhaps it will be.
”Tag” is too rough, claims the principal, who perhaps still bears the psychological scars from being chased around a yard and whacked on the shoulder by a giggling would-be assassin as a 6-year-old; it encourages kids to become aggressive.
”There’s a potential for some victimization,” agrees the National Association of School Psychologists’ Mary Beth Klotz, who, if her surname correlated in any way to her motor skills, probably didn’t enjoy such physical challenges as a child.
A Santa Monica, Calif., principal was among the first to insulate his children from the ravages of being a child, when he banned the game in 2002 because it ”creates self-esteem issues for weaker and slower children.”
A liberal Web site commentator discussing the ban opined games like ”tag” encourage boys to be boys, which is precisely what’s gotten our country into ”the mess we’re in right now.”
It’s high time we heed words of wisdom and warnings such as these, and put a stop to this brutal activity, before any more feelings are hurt or arms bruised.
In the interest of protecting the physical and emotional well-being of America’s youth, perhaps we should slam the brakes on all the games that put our children in harm’s way. Left to their own devices, today’s kids might play themselves right into a group therapy session.
From this point forward, the following children’s games shall be deemed inappropriate for actual children:
Hide-and-Seek: This exercise in hostility encourages children to hide from one another, essentially teaching kids they can’t be different; that they must hide their true selves from those who seek to ”out” them. And what of the designated ”seeker?” This lonely soul is being intentionally ostracized by his ”friends” who do whatever they can to avoid him, bringing about feelings of loneliness and isolation that may leave lasting scars.
Red Light, Green Light: In this contest, one child is made lord and master over his playmates, designating when they are allowed to advance themselves and when they must stop, rather than allowing each child to progress at his or her own pace.
Simon Says: This identity-destroying activity actually encourages children to give up their own individuality and conform to the whims of another. Kids are forced to march in lock-step with a narcissistic megalomaniac who is satisfied only when his minions are emulating his every move.
Duck, Duck, Goose: How, in a supposedly ”advanced” society, can we honestly defend this savage exercise in hostility and exclusion? We place large groups of children in giant circles, while purposely excluding one child from the group. The lonely outsider is then encouraged to violently vent his frustrations by repeatedly smacking each child on the back of the head before finally goading one of them into chasing him, thus creating a vacancy in the circle and prompting a wild race for inclusion and acceptance.
We are talking about our children, the most innocent and vulnerable members of our society. It’s time we stopped treating them like Roman gladiators, abusing one another for our amusement.
Bob Frantz hosts ”Eye on Toledo” weeknights on WSPD 1370 AM. He may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.