Sunday, May 15, 2011

Darn Hooligans

Here's a Hooligan you might recognize. Sorted by number and barcode, totally normal right?

I find myself jamming to the radio in the car, before I realize that Ben is hopefully napping in the back seat and I should turn it down. I turn a corner to find four or five boys on skateboards, outside our cul de sac. They aren’t directly in my way, and they move easily. They are between thirteen and seventeen, I would guess.

I wish I had visuals for this little play-by-play but I thought it would be somewhat strange to hunt down a group of skater boys and randomly take photos of them. Also, chances of success are extremely low. Also… way creepy.

So my first response was like anybody’s over twenty. Pretty much: why are you out in the street, in my way, don’t you have somewhere to go, stuff like that. Then, I had some kind of epiphany. I stopped and actually listened to the script that my mind was running, and I argued with it. You know what I realized? I am truly glad that I live in a neighborhood where kids are gathering on my road to skateboard. It means that our streets are quiet and slow enough, that they feel safe there. I am not afraid of them, and they aren’t afraid of me.

Further than that, I tried to learn how to skateboard when I was eighteen. Tried being the key word there. Where did I go? The road in front of my house. Where I felt sure that people would drive slowly and I wouldn’t be harmed. Where should I have gone?

When my kids are teens, I don’t want them to feel their society turn on them suddenly. The fear and suspicion we show adolescents makes them feel alienated from the world, at a time when they most certainly need embracing. They don’t have homes of their own, not all of them have safe homes to go to, and teen “centers” are either a myth or a poorly funded sham, depending on where you live. In California, most household expenses require dual incomes, and they are expected to look after themselves, or at the least, keep to themselves. Is it any wonder that it’s a time of emotional confusion?

After this little talking-to I gave myself, I see kids skateboarding in the streets, and I think: curb appeal. I wave to them and smile. I want them to know how happy I am to see them there, enjoying the community around them that is just as much theirs as it is mine. If they feel accepted by strangers around them, as opposed to ostracized, perhaps it will give them a sense of kindness and loyalty toward their neighborhood.

 I hope neighbors will see Ben playing out in front of our house someday and smile.


  1. Yeah, its funny how when i see teens gathering I immediately think they are up to no good. When did this happen? Didnt we all congregate when we were teens?

    I hated being a teen most of the time, and wouldnt wanna go back. Such a weird time isnt it? You were such a good friend though, and memories of you are happy teen memories I have!

  2. MARY LAUFENBERG. (that is all)

  3. Meem- I know, we certainly didn't look like we were productive members of society when we used to hang out, but we turned out great! Going so far as being role models to the youth and all that. I hated being a teen, too. Ugh. You were a great friend, too, and I hope Ben has friends that make him feel like he can be himself, too.

    Amy- weird to think that was once my name, and I just changed it because I could. I can still type it out suuuuuper fast. maybe faster than I can type Thomas.