Friday, September 09, 2005
Hooray, I'm the neighborhood B...

Yep. I'm so proud.

It's not intentional! Circumstances have aligned such that I am surrounded by irritating teenagers, and so I end up looking like the bad guy for dealing with their snotty attitudes.

It all started a few weeks ago. I'd had just a crappy day - lots of errands to run, no nap from Jacob, much whining from Emily, etc., etc. Then Willem came home with the news that he'd been offered a position as a teaching assistant at his college, which is fantastic in the sense that it means tuition is now paid for plus he gets a stipend, but it was extraordinarily stressful because we found out with two days' notice, and it meant some major rearranging in plans and schedules around here. So, the kids were in the bath and he and I were sitting on the couch trying to hash out the details.

From our couch, you can see the street, including where our mailbox is. So I was facing directly that way when three teenagers walked past (this was in those last endless days before school starts, and these beasts had obviously reached the age where back-to-school equals more moping, not excitement). One of them was opening all of the mailboxes with flags up. And I had finally gotten around to writing thank-you notes for our housewarming gifts, so for the first time in weeks I actually had stuff in there. So, I hopped up off the couch and very delicately waltzed to the screen door and uttered, "HEY, GET OUT OF MY MAILBOX!"

The girl was very small and delicate-looking, and I scared the bejesus right out of her. She jumped, she jolted, she turned red, she gasped. Her two friends, another girl and a boy, immediately gave her the universal "oooooh, you're in trouble now" look. She had to save face - I mean, I'd already made her soil herself by catching her in the act, so the only way she was going to survive this, socially, was to mouth off, right? Right. So, with the maximum possible level of teenage snarl, she said, "Relax, lady." I gently replied, "Stealing mail is a federal offense. Want to argue with me?" She declined, though I have to say that her grasp of sign language is rudimentary, at best - the sign she flashed me, while being negative in nature, was clearly more abrupt and crass than the typical sign for "No, thank you."

So, I watched them walk down the street, they tried to act all tough but within about 20 feet the culprit started to cry, it was all very adolescent. I felt bad that she had to be nosy on the day when I was having such a crappy day to begin with, but such is life.

A single incident is not enough to cement my reputation, of course. But I had a follow-up last week, so it may now be permanent.

One of our neighbors, a few doors up across the street, is blind. I don't know how long he has lived there, but the town put a brand-spankin'-new sign up about him last week. (Which I always wondered about: Do blind people know that there are street signs up about them?) It's on the line between our property and our neighbors', right up next to the street - a fantastic place for a street sign, I must say.

Anyway, we were unloading the Jeep after a grocery trip, and the two juvenile delinquents who live next door (different from the Mailbox Gang) were out in the front yard throwing things at each other. I don't know if they are, legally speaking, truly juvenile delinquents, but it's not for lack of trying, swearing, hitting, whining and general nastiness. So, when throwing rocks got boring, they went over and started trying to yank out the new sign. In the middle of the afternoon. 50 feet from me. Idiots.

So, I gently and calmly (really - I was having a good day this time!) asked, "Hey, guys, can we leave the sign alone, please?" Their descent into angst and anger was instant - they obviously have much more practice than the Mailbox Girl. "It's our property, we can do whatever we want here." I disagreed, but just gave them my still-protozoic Mom Glare (I've only had to use it on Emily a few times, it hasn't been perfected yet) and they skulked away. They resumed their prior assault on each other, and to my surprise they haven't removed the sign yet - though I did see their father out checking on it the other day. Wondering what he'll be charged when his kids destroy it, no doubt.

So, sigh, by now all the teenagers in my neighborhood will know who I am and how horribly unfairly I treated those poor, innocent miscreants.

At least I'll know WHY when my house gets egged on Halloween.