Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Journey towards becoming angry, old man accelerates

Note: This column will appear in the 4/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/27 issue of the Peoria Times.

Well, it happened. I yelled at kids to get off my lawn.

Okay so, not my “lawn” exactly, as we do not have lawns in Arizona. What I literally said was, “Get off my property!” To a girl. Who is like, 6.

A little background, in my own defense. I have detailed before the children who gallivant throughout our neighborhood unsupervised and unaccounted for by what society traditionally describes as “parents.” Among those are several young girls who are not as openly mischievous as their male counterparts—with whom, by the way, they have recently joined forces to the benefit of zero people—but who must be watched closely. I used to believe any trouble or inconvenience the girls may have caused was born of their own naïveté, but recent events have proven this assumption incorrect.

They hang on people’s trees. They throw rocks. They toss garbage in the street. If your gate is unlocked, they will go into your backyard and hang out. If your gate is locked, they will climb the wall. They have, several times, awoken our napping daughter by ringing our doorbell to see if our dog could “come out and play.” Last summer, in the middle of a July afternoon, they rang our doorbell all sweaty and red-faced, and asked my wife for water, as if they were drifters who had just emerged from 40 Biblical days in the desert and didn’t live five houses away.

My wife had to reprimand them before I did. She pulled out of the driveway one day and had to slam on her brakes because one of them was just standing in our driveway. The other girls were at the side of our house messing with our outdoor water supply. My wife called them over to the car with a stern “get over here NOW before I flip out” finger wag and, through gritted teeth, explained that she was from Brooklyn.

Last weekend was my turn. I was already stressed just trying to leave the house, and our daughter was whining about something or other. I opened the garage door and standing there was one of the girls, messing with this metal, spinning daisy we have in our front yard. We made eye contact and, instead of saying, “Sorry,” and walking away slowly, she looked at me defiantly, and said, “What? I’m not doing anything!”

That was it. The other girls were nearby in the street. Here is a rough transcript of what I think I said, although my rage has somewhat clouded my recollection:

What are you doing? GET OFF MY PROPERTY! I’m sick and tired of you girls being in everyone’s yard, and so is everyone else (open arms to signify entire neighborhood)! You think I don’t see you hanging from trees and throwing your garbage in the street? Enough is enough!

This wasn’t said as smoothly as it reads here. There was definitely some stuttering as my mind raced to edit the desired profanity. As I turned back to my car, I think I heard one of them call me a “weirdo.” They’ll be back.

I was talking to my wife about it later, and we were saying, “Could you imagine if a neighbor yelled us when we were kids?” I would be so embarrassed, and scared, and remorseful, I wouldn’t go within 100 yards of that house ever again. Am I crazy? I might be crazy.

I would, however, like this to serve as my explanation when St. Peter stops me at the pearly gates and reminds me that I once yelled at a small girl for playing with a flower.

4 comments:

Dave Brigham said...

Cool. You have Dead End Kids in your 'hood.

mkenny59 said...

Darn straight. I suppose it would be better if we tried to rehabilitate them through some second-hand parenting, but right now I am content just yelling at them.

Bill said...

I subscribe to the Adam Carrolla theory where this is the coming out of the generation of kids ("Millenials" or whatever they are called) that have been constantly coddled, told all that "You're so special, everyone's a winner, and there are no losers" stuff, and as a result were turned into entitled little monsters. (That, or, ya know, their parents are just failures.)

Either way, keep fighting the good fight and never feel apologetic or guilty for standing up for your neighborhood.

I am currently having problems with young "adults" (I give them that title loosely) on my street who have loud parties that end with trash all over, and in one especially troubling instance, two young drunk men jumping the six foot block wall and into my backyard at 3 AM.

So as you can see, this topic strikes a nerve with me, and I picture the kids in your neighborhood as simply the "10-12 years prior versions" of what my street currently faces. Good luck my friend.

mkenny59 said...

Bill! Thanks for the comment ... although I am sorry to hear you are dealing with similar shenanigans. I imagine the older they get, the greater the risk becomes of being involved in an actual altercation in which you are talked back to and called curse words. CAN'T WAIT! Hopefully, one day both of us will have the experience and know-how to react like George Costanza in the movie theater.