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Protect your child from birthday party violence

Have you been to a child's birthday party lately and witnessed the parental inciting of violence? I'm not talking about throwing 20 kids into a moonwalk designed to accommodate only 10. The blood and gore resulting from such mild entertainment as jumping senselessly out of control compares negligibly to the brutality of other party activities; most notably, the breaking of the pinata.

Child psych researchers report that aggression on television and video games results in increased hostile behavior in children. I say, "Pish posh, hog wash." Today's birthday party is the root of all belligerences in youth.

We ply the party guests with cake, ice cream and red punch. Next, we shove them into the moonwalk where they wrestle like a pack of badgers in a gunny sack, allowed out only when visibly bloody. Broken bones and internal injuries must await verification after the party.

The piece de' resistance, the climax if you will, is the pinata. All the children, now frothing at the mouth, run out of the moonwalk to the staging area for the event. By this point, their adrenalin mixes with the red food coloring and high blood sugar resulting in an army of tykes with bulging eyes and foaming mouths. Add sticks and bats and you have the makings of a riot on your hands.

Backing up a bit to the birthday party planning, remember that the honored child agonized for hours over which pinata to select. In the end he chose his all-time favorite character: Spider Man, Winnie the Pooh, Scooby Doo or whatever. The important thing to note is that the child chose a character that she absolutely, positively, without a doubt LOVES! No other would do.

So, back to the children with sticks: At a celebration I attended several weekends ago I viewed the lynching of Power Puff Girl the size of a three year old. Just prior to witnessing the slipping of the noose over its head and its hoisting into the tree, my then two-year-old daughter carried on a delightfully meaningful conversation with her new friend.

She desperately tried to continue it as the Power Puff Girl dangled in the breeze awaiting the first blow. All the children lined up behind my daughter, who jabbered on, eagerly anticipating an opportunity to whollop the papier mache treasure trove. My daughter received the first try. Whack! Cheers rose from the crowd making her grin with satisfaction.

Whack! Whack! Whack! Parents cheered, clapped and shouted instructions like "Hit her harder . . . that was a great lick . . . really bust her now!" By the time every child had swung at the tattered superhero, we had them whipped into a raging frenzy.

A small child, about the size of the adversary hanging from the tree, stepped forward. His eyes appeared glazed over. He choked up on the bat until his knuckles turned white, drew it back as far as he could and swung accurately and repeatedly at the knees and lower body of the pinata. The primitive lower brain took over and his inner animal drove him to rip the poor girl to shreds, inspiring me to write a sequel to Lord of the Flies.

The Power Puff Girl burst open spilling candy on the ground. Still enduring the blows of the child with the bat, the sacrificial hero swayed over the group of party goers, who collected candy like a horde of feral swine grunting, groaning and growling.

Ironically, I allow my preschoolers to go to birthday parties but I won't let them watch PG-rated movies.

Web posted on Wednesday, July 7, 2004

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