“I can’t take the Dude outside to play at the park,” Teen Son declared. “There’s broken glass everywhere there.”
Apparently some kids got a hold of a microwave and decided the appropriate thing to do was shatter the rotating glass plate on the public use cement patio behind our house. I sighed in frustration, bemoaned the wicked deeds of “darn kids these days,” and decided to call the housing area manager since the park isn’t actually my responsibility despite its proximity.
Then, a few hours later, my daughter tells me there’s glass in the front yard. “No,” I reply, “it’s at the park, in the back. Isn’t it?”
“Well I think there’s glass out front too.”
I investigate to discover the remains of a Vlasic pickle jar, not five feet from my front door, shattered on the cement walkway to the sidewalk. Chunks and shards sparkle between blades of grass beside the cement.
I’m out there sweeping and picking up shards in the dark with a flashlight, listening to my middle son describe what he saw, and thinking about the conversations I need to have with some neighborhood parents.
“[Kid 1] had the jar, and he wanted to break it. So he put a bunch of rocks in it and shook it really hard. But it didn’t break.”
ok, so first I need to make sure some parents talk to him about how dangerous and dumb it is to break glass in your own hand.
“Then [Kid 2] said he’d help. And he took it and smashed it on the cement.”
Then I need to discuss the fact I don’t want a sea of glass shards outside my front door.
“Yeah,” Teen Son adds, “those were the kids who broke that stuff in the park.”
Maybe I should take a closer look.
We check and discover not just a microwave but an assortment of kitchen items turned refuse. Plastic cups and jars, and a blender–plugged into the patio outlet and seemingly used to blend aluminum cans.
I don’t know any way to explain that to parents other than “So, boys being boys, it seems the kids decided to blend some cans and break appliances in the park patio, and that seems not too safe.”
Maybe it’s a form of karma. I broke bottles on train tracks and threw florescent tube lights like spears. I even punched one once–yes, that ended poorly. I was friends with the kid who tried to build bombs in his garage, so maybe my parents thought, “Well at least David isn’t blowing anything up.” Or maybe they didn’t know the full scope of my nefarious activities.
Now I can imagine what a number of homeowners must have felt back then at finding shards of glass scattered on their curbside. I didn’t think of it then, but I get it now. So I expect the neighborhood kids will be mad that someone talked to their parents, and they’ll probably be upset about being grounded (or whatever form of discipline if any they receive).
I don’t care.
I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of parents would rather be aware of their kids’ behavior, however blissful ignorance might be. If you catch my kid shattering jars on your front door (or throwing light-spears or lighting things on fire or planning to build a bomb), I’d love to hear about it. I’ll probably thank you and apologize, blushing profusely.
Then my kid will come clean up the mess. I might even hold the flashlight.