I’m ready to begin a Charlie Bronson vigilante campaign against teenage hoodlums that terrorize their families and our neighborhoods. How I would love to shatter the knee caps, prune the tongues and staple the lips of these demonic kids I see disrespecting their parents, elders and others with impunity.
With it being illegal to dust these little bastions of bad behavior (unless they commit a forcible felony against me) I’ve come up with an alternative avenue to release my angst, as most efforts to change these terrible teens are hopeless. Only by becoming the prison bride of a big guy in jail, catching an STD or via a Damascus Road experience will these Legion-possessed lemmings leave their path of doom.
Therefore, I’ve decided to turn to you, the new parent, and give you some guidance in rearing that fresh little bambino God has just blessed you with. Omit these foundational lessons, and your kid will probably try to stab you in your sleep for not getting him the new Nikes he asked for.
The principles I’m about to volley into your court are not new or original. They have been a part of the South and its heritage for many years, and their roots are biblical. Herewith is my ripped-off version of the recipe I got from Clint Johnson (who got it from Emily Post, who got it from whomever) for Southern Fried Children.
1. Don’t flaunt your advantages. The Southern Fried Child doesn’t flaunt who they are, where they went to school or their net worth. Yeah, the bells and smells, the incense and nonsense afforded by certain advantages (earned or otherwise) don't mean Shiite to a Southerner if used as a fig leaf to veil ones lack of character and humility.
2. Everyone deserves respect until they demonstrate they don’t deserve it. The Southern Fried Child believes that all men are created in the image of God and should be treated with respect until that person shows they don’t deserve it (like Rosie does on a daily basis).
That means you don’t slap, spit or drop the F-bomb on your parents, sonny boy. I asked Ted Nugent one time what he would do if one of his sons told him to F-off like Kelly and Jack Osborne regularly tell Ozzy and Sharon to do. Ted said, “I’d tear off their head and _______ down their throat.”
It’s amazing to watch 3, 5 & 15 year-old kids unleash their venom on their parents and others and then walk away smacking their gum. If my kids ever did that to me or their mom, their teeth would be lying on the ground. The Southern Fried Child respects parents, old people, teachers, police, peers and opponents—unless forced by said person to do otherwise.
3. Titles are important. The Southern Fried Child still calls their elders “sir” or “ma’am.” I’ve got friends who have adult children with families of their own who make a very nice living, are close to my age and still call me “sir.” When the Southern Fried Child addresses a man, it is always as “Mr. (last name)” and a woman as “Mrs.” or “Miss (last name)” until they’ve been green lighted to use their first name or nickname.
4. Everyone else matters before you do. The Southern Fried Child is here to serve not be served. They do weird stuff like open the door for others. They don’t rush an elevator knocking down granny to get on first. When they come into a situation they assess what others might need, not what they can get from people or places.
5. Be helpful. The Southern Fried Child sees a lady with a flat on her car and helps her. The other day I was out in front of a Publix Supermarket and watched a burglary in progress. The guy ran out of the store, cash in hand, with the clerk and security guards chasing him. It looked fun so, I joined in the chase. The clerk and the guard ran out of juice, and I (along with a cop) got to tackle the dude and jam his face into the cement. (One of those little perks God drops in your lap every now and then.) Bottom line with those raised south of the Mason-Dixon is: whether it’s with tackling a punk or packing a trunk, The Southern Fried Child is programmed to H-E-L-P not hinder.
6. Be friendly. The Southern Fried Child smiles. They’re not sullen or vexed. They’re not walking around like the psycho chicks and metrosexual males in Miami in a pout pretending to be the next angry supermodel. The SFC says hello and starts friendly conversations. When I take my buddies hunting with me to Texas or Alabama, they’re blown away at how friendly people are. We’ll be driving down a Farm to Market Road in the middle of nowhere, meet a truck coming the opposite direction and our host will wave. Invariably, one of my friends then asks, “Who was that?” and our host replies, “I don’t know.” Then my jaded friends give me a confused look and ask me quietly why he waved. I whisper back, “People down here are friendly . . . . watch out—it might rub off on you.”
7. Use the right words. When asked a question, the Southern Fried Child doesn’t reply with “Huh?” “What?” or “Yeah.” It’s “Please,” “Thank you” or “Yes or no thank you.” They are kids who respectfully ask and don’t demand.
Southern families, by and large, don’t allow their kids to act like a spoiled, rabid, egocentric animals. Good manners and propriety are expected of us “stupid” old rednecks and our offspring. New mom and dad, instill the above Southern qualities into your new baby, and when he or she grows up, they’ll thank you in spades—and they’ll be leaders wherever they go.
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