Those of you who know me know this – I am a big fan of Surrey’s youth.
I believe this city has some of the most intelligent, talented, creative and classy kids on the planet.
You see proof of this at one of my favourite annual events, the SASSY Awards, which honour the city’s most inspiring youth.
You see it every year on stage at the Bell Centre, where students of all ages, backgrounds and abilities dance their way into your heart during the Surrey school district’s dance festival.
And you can see proof of it, like I just did, at dance recitals all over Surrey. I watched in awe Sunday as my step-daughter Macayla and her Panorama School of Dance peers performed like seasoned professionals at the Bell Centre, complete with heartfelt speeches of gratitude from the school’s graduating students after the recital’s finale.
â€” Beau Simpson (@My_Grace_12) May 19, 2014
And you see it in these very pages – regular readers already know that the Now’s news team loves showcasing young people who are making a difference in our community. Just look at today’s front page for evidence of that.
It’s easy to see that we have amazing kids among us. As a community – and as their parents – we should be proud.
But on Saturday, my faith in youth – and in our community’s parenting abilities – took a big hit on the fairgrounds of the Cloverdale Rodeo and Fair.
Now, I want to be fair here and not paint all fairgoers with the same brush.
Did I see young, polite, well-behaved children thoroughly enjoying the rides and games with their parents? Absolutely I did.
Did I see teenagers who were having a great time with their friends in a responsible, mature manner? Yes, I saw that, too.
But if you were with me on Saturday, you would have seen many other, much more disturbing things.
You would have seen kids stumbling around from ride to ride blind drunk.
You would have been shaking your head in disbelief as you watched girls looking as young as 12 walk by, seemingly engaged in a competition with their peers as to who could dress the most inappropriately for their age.
And if you are a more conservative parent like me, perhaps your head would have also shaken when you saw the countless mohawk haircuts on kids – some of whom were so young they could barely walk (I know this comes down to personal taste but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why parents would want their child to project that image at such a young age).
On the fairgrounds, you also would have seen cops confiscate many a mickey from under-aged drinkers.
You would have heard a dad call his young son, who was maybe seven or eight, a crude name that rhymes with "wussy" because he wouldn’t go in the haunted house attraction.
And you would have heard this classy line from a young girl, whose voice sounded no older than 15 and who brought a boy into a port-a-potty (yes, a port-a-potty): "I hope you brought protection because I can’t afford birth control."
Overheard in rodeo porta-potty: "I hope you brought protection cause I can’t afford birth control." Stay classy, Surrey. #surreybc
â€” Beau Simpson (@My_Grace_12) May 18, 2014
And finally, you would have seen a completely plastered, handcuffed young man – with his dad in tow – smack face first right into my wife’s chest, followed closely by a cop who was struggling to corral him, despite the teen’s drunken efforts to make a clumsy escape.
You also would have heard the news that alcohol is suspected after 10 young people left the rodeo the night before packed in a pickup truck – eight of them in the box – and miraculously survived after the driver lost control of the truck and it rolled, violently throwing the kids from the box.
To say the least, a day at the rodeo does not leave you with the best impression of our city’s young people, or the hard work we parents do in raising our kids properly.
In contrast, had you walked over the rodeo’s main stage on Sunday, you would have seen a much more positive representation of Surrey’s youth and their parents.
The BC Junior Talent Search always gives a glimpse of the talent we have among our youth.
At the finals on Sunday, you would have heard beautiful young voices coming through the massive speakers, accompanied by the supportive cheers and hollers from proud parents.
I wasn’t there this year but have been honoured in the past to help judge the contest and it always leaves me feeling good about Surrey’s families.
The Cloverdale Rodeo and Fair is a proud tradition in Surrey and it does a lot of great things for our community.
But for me, what it does is highlight the importance of parenting – and this scares me because Surrey is a city full of young people and young parents.
If a day at the rodeo is any indication, we seriously need to up our game as parents. Our community is depending on it.
Is Beau out of line with his views on youth and parenting? Let him know at email@example.com