April 14, 2010

The Writing's on the Slide

I live in a fairly "normal" neighborhood. It's pretty much your standard middle class suburban neighborhood. It's relatively safe, but we have our problems. The biggest problem seems to be bored teenagers and graffiti.
I can look at most of the graffiti and shrug it off. On the mailboxes. On a stop sign. It's not helping the community, but things could be worse. It's the graffiti at the neighborhood park that drives me absolutely bonkers. There are "gang signs" painted on the play set. (I use the term "gang" loosely because I'm pretty sure it's a bunch of clueless teens who think they're "cool" for spray painting initials. After they "tag" the swing set, they then wrap all the swings around the bar so no one can reach them. Not really a sign of that the Bloods and Crips are taking over). There is profanity and slurs inside the tube slide. It's disturbing. This is where countless children play. This is where countless parents in the neighborhood take their families to unwind and let off some steam. Fortunately, my girls can't read. I can only imagine how some parents are explaining the words and phrases on the slide.
This isn't something that just popped up. Last summer our Homeowner's Association decided to install security cameras at the pool due to vandals. Right before the cameras were installed, someone hopped the fence at night and put some "unknown substance" in the baby pool. I'm pretty sure it was shampoo. I know for a fact that it wasn't harmful because when I arrived at the pool with four little girls eager for a soak, I bit the bullet and let them in the water. I was willing to risk a skin irritation over listening to tantrums about being kept out of the pool.
The summer before that, I perfected my "mean mom" look... the one moms give to kids who aren't behaving. I gave this look countless times to the teens at the pool who were swearing up a storm. They left before I had a chance to go lay in to them for their profanity and perhaps teach them a few new words.
I spoke with a neighbor yesterday who has young children. She, too, is disappointed by the graffiti and the way the local teenagers are treating the park. Her solution? There needs to be something for them... a basketball court, perhaps. I don't disagree with her, but if they can't behave now, why reward them? OK, I should also note that most of the teens in the neighborhood are nice, well-mannered kids. It's just a shame there are a few who are ruining the reputation of the masses. (The few bad apples include a teen two doors down from us who did a stint in juvie for burning down a barn near our neighborhood. I'm also convinced he's the (insert profanity here) who shot a BB gun at our picture window. I would love to ask him for the $500 it will cost to fix it. Why did he have to shoot out the biggest window?! Hmmm... what was I saying about my "normal" neighborhood?)
I will give the local police credit. They have stepped up their presence in our neighborhood. Lately, an officer has been stationed near the park when school lets out, although it seems like the graffiti is still appearing on a regular basis. Seeing the officer, has been good for my girls. She gave each of them a police badge sticker and it led to a great conversation with them about how it's not just boys who grow up to be police officers.
Now if the graffiti culprits could just find it in their hearts to leave park alone, things could go back to "normal" in my neighborhood.
On a lighter note, there's still time to enter the Spring Sweet Treats giveaway.


MaryAnne said...

We don't have this problem since there isn't a park nearby and the two town parks are (apparently) well-enough regulated to prevent graffiti. I still remember my shock as a 6yo child moving from a small farm town into a DC suburb where kids covered the playground in graffiti.

Sorry about your picture window - how frustrating!

Amanda said...

We had a graffiti problem when there was rumors of one of the homes in our sub becoming a group home. Funnily enough I think it was our HOA president, not the punk kids.

Anonymous said...

That is such a pain to deal with. I have park problems myself, mostly on the weekends, when teenagers sometimes hang out at the park in front of my house after it's closed, making a lot of noise. Glad you have a nice officer on the case- that can make all the difference :)

Brooke said...

We have the same problem at our local parks. Mo kept referring to one of the parks as the "ABC Park" and I couldn't figure out why, until he pointed out the large tag on the slide (he couldn't read at the time, just knew they were letters).

Quadmama said...

My girls keep asking if we can go to the "naughty" park!

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