Monday, April 21, 2008

History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man


There's not much that will make me (mentally) curse a kid. I mean, someone else's kid. My own kids I curse all the time. In my head. Mostly.

But I was almost speechless with horror and rage Friday afternoon when I stepped into the backyard and saw my vegetable garden trampled and all the stakes broken off at ground level. Multiple kids had been in the backyard that afternoon, racing and playing pirate and popping the heads off dandelions. But I knew goddamn well that neither of MY children, nor their friends, had done this. All of those children can recognize a garden and know not to step in it. My own children know that if you touch my garden stakes, you have to stand in the garden and support my plants all summer as penance.

No, I knew it was the neighbors' grandchildren, who were there for a backyard barbecue. This was tricky - I don't know those kids by name, and I don't know their parents, so I don't feel like I can yell at them. So I called Big Man and Mr. Four over, pointed at the garden, started yelling.

"WHOOO did this?" I bellowed. I felt kind of good about this, in a perverse kind of way. I knew they were going to say they didn't do it, and I knew they didn't do it, so I was anticipating Being Just and Fair.

"Well, if you two didn't do it, who did?" Pointing was the response. The grandchildren, curious as to what the fuss was about, were right there.

I turned to them. In a gentler, disbelieving tone of voice, I said, "Did you guys walk on my garden? Did you break my stakes?" They knew it was a big offense because they had heard me yell at my kids.

The thing is, they were completely baffled. One of them, coming toward me to see what I was talking about, walked straight across the vegetable garden again, mashing the carrot seedlings into the ground. "No! Stop!" my boys and I yelled all together. The kid looked at us in bewilderment.

What the hell kind of upbringing creates a kid so oblivious that he will walk right over 8" seedlings planted in a line in a vegetable garden?

Later in the evening, I was out back, chatting with one of the moms, when her children kicked over the garden border and tramped right over the peas again. "Hold up! Stop!" I'm hollering, while the mother gazes on, as clueless as her kids.