Other kids’ parents
“Hey,” I said to my kid the other day as he returned from his friend’s house. “You guy’s have fun? What’d you do?”
“We played nicky-nicky-nine-doors,” he said. “It was awesome.”
“Really? I don’t know if that’s a great idea,” I told him. “It’s not very polite, and if you do it too much, people might get annoyed enough to call the cops.”
“But my friend’s dad told us to,” he said. “He told us to do all the rich houses down the street.”
“Right, well, I’m asking you not to do it anymore, even if other parents say so. Okay?”
I decided it was worth a follow up chat with the father in question, so I dropped by his place a couple of days later. “Why,” I asked him, “would you tell the kids to go annoy the neighbours? It’s a good way to get them into trouble.”
“It’s only the rich people,” he said. “They’re all jerks anyway. Serves them right. And, really, what are they going to do about it? The cops aren’t going to arrest a couple of eight-year olds.”
“Maybe not now,” I said, “but you don’t want your kids getting a reputation with the police, and you don’t want to teach them things that could get them into trouble later.”
“It’s no big deal,” he assured me. “It was actually pretty funny. They climbed the fence of that big house at the corner, and the guy came out and was yelling like crazy.”
“So they were trespassing too?”
“Relax, man. It’s just some old rich guy. He needs his cage rattled.”
I didn’t pursue it any further. It wasn’t worth the conversation. I did take my kid to apologize at those houses though, and we had a good long chat about treating people with respect, no matter how much or how little money they have, no matter how old or young they are, no matter how jerkish they might seem to be.
We also talked about how he wouldn’t be going to play at that friend’s house any more. I told him the friend could come hang out at our place or go to the park with us, but that I wasn’t really comfortable with having the friend’s dad be in charge of him.
He took it pretty well. In fact, he summed up the whole situation with a child’s typical simplicity. “Yeah,” he told me, “some parents still act like kids. But maybe they’ll grow out of it.”
I hope he’s right.