Friday, June 02, 2006

Family Night Out

I used to be a Jaycee. That’s right. I was a card-carrying member of the Jr. Chamber of Commerce.

I joined when I first moved here, thinking it would be a nice way to meet some like-minded people, learn more about the community, and hey, it looks good on a resume, so what the heck. I had the opportunity to meet and work with lots of different kinds of people – through the Kid’s CARE ID program, the park and rec Easter Egg Hunt, the local camp that work exclusively with handicapped kids to rehabilitate, etc, etc. I help run athletic competitions for kids – Super Shooters, Pitch, Hit and Run – I helped paint parking spaces lines – you name it, I probably did it.

One of the fascinating events we did was when we told the local hockey arena we would sell programs for them. It was a fundraiser for us, so we could continue to send local kids off to state competitions – so we committed to have 4-5 people sell programs at every hockey game for the season. We had to wear dorky school bus yellow t-shirts, stand in these weird podiums on wheels and take money from people. It wasn’t so bad. After all, I got into the game for free, and those I knew would always come up and make fun of my outfit, and the excitement in the air was good. If you’ve ever been to a hockey game, you know what I mean. It was a pleasant experience all around. But there was one thing that I just couldn’t wrap my head around.

Stationed near the concession stand, I would watch family after family order candy, pop, runzas, hotdogs, pizza, beer and drop $30-$40 per trip on stuff for everyone. Then I would see the same kids come back an hour or so later, give the guy behind the counter a twenty-dollar bill and get more candy. It was amazing to me. Then I would watch the men go back for beer after beer. They weren’t allowed to sell more than 2 beers at a time to a person, but I would continually see men come back time and time again, and spend $3 a cup on a Bud Light. Amazing.

Now, I am no one to judge materialism. We are all guilty of some form of it. I admit to owning way too many CDs, too much scrapbooking stuff, having bookcases full of books, and entirely too many extra sheets for my beds and dishes for my table. But I do wonder: where is the so-called "quality family time" in this? Where is the education in this? Somehow parents consider a night out with the kids such as this a great alternative to sitting in front of the TV, and ha-zah to those who even consider too much TV a problem, but it seems like a lateral move to me. You’re still watching something, being entertained by something. You aren’t talking to each other; you aren’t learning anything except maybe a few new colorful words from the irritable fan behind you, but all in all? I don’t see this as quality family time, especially at that price. Buying a ticket to this place is not to attend a hockey game; it’s a $15 cover charge to go to a club. In fact, I was shocked at how many people around me didn’t even know what cross-checking was or how many times I was asked "When is 4th inning going to start?" Gah.

But it was easy to get caught up in these games. Hockey is not a sport I love, but it was fun to watch nevertheless. Then again I actually knew the rules. So I didn’t have to keep going back to the concession stand to pass the time.

What I’m listening to: Paul Baloche’s A Greater Song
What I’m reading: Ted Dekker's White

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