Kid Court

Spotlight On
Clark Westfield
April 2014

I have three daughters. I have never done anything better in my life. It’s also the payback for everything I’ve done in my youth. Day in, day out, they are alternately the joy of my life and the bane of my existence. I say yes, they say no. I say black, they say white. It is amazing to me how much little girls love their daddy’s when they are little. You read “Goodnight Moon” and “Is Your Mama a Llama” and they stare up at you with that adoring gaze, and you swear to yourself that heaven on earth is right there on your lap. Then they become teenagers and just like that the gates of hell open up and you sit there wondering what happened. I swear, at thirteen they turn to the dark side. My girls who once doted on me and made me happy crayon pictures all of a sudden stopped communicating with me. I used to tease them and say, “Well anyway, none of you were exactly planned. For all intent and purposes your names could be ‘Oops,’ ‘Uh-oh,’ and ‘Are You Kidding Me?’

Say that now and within five minutes the kid could hire a lawyer and slap you with a lawsuit. Pardon me, but I had a very hard time understanding the recent legal wrangling that happened here in New Jersey with a certain young lady (whose name I shall not mention because I believe that this case has already seen its share of sensationalism) and her parents when lawyers were brought into the picture and she sued her parents. Say that out loud. She sued her parents. Let that sink in. I was brought up in a different era. A child misbehaves today, he gets a “time out.” My father had knock out. If my dad took a “time out” it was because his hand hurt from hitting my butt. Kids seem less respectful, even in school where they actually yell at their teachers. Amazing. When I was in third grade, my teacher called me a moron, an idiot. And I was home schooled…

I certainly don’t mean to make light of the family and their troubles. Every family has its share of problems. Where I think the situation crossed over from the merely tragic to the absolutely absurd is when the girl’s BFF’s father, a renowned yet misguided attorney, decided to take the girl’s misery and confusion and turn it into a 3-ring circus. No one really knows what life was like under that roof but the family themselves. Accusations of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment belong in family counseling, not on the nightly news, which escalated to the point where it more closely resembled a reality show. No sooner than the story broke did people take sides. Because that is what we do. The kid is a spoiled brat. The parents should pay her tuition. And on and on it went. It got to the point where it was all we talked about. It even, dare I say, even knocked “Bridgegate” out of our water-cooler conversation. In a word, to me it was just sad.

As I write this, I am thinking of my girls, and later on I will give them all a big hug and tell them I love them. Because that, my dear readers, is really all the news that’s fit to print.

More to Come…CW


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