Monday, September 27, 2010


Think back to your childhood. Do you remember the neighbour whose property you wouldn't dare set foot on for fear you'd be yelled at or threatened within an inch of your life? I am not that neighbour.

Kids traipse across my lawn daily on their way to school. I know this not because I see them (I've usually gone to work by the time they walk through) but because they are the bane of my neighbours' existence.

"Those kids were walking through your yard again," they'd say, more exasperated than I.

"I told them you have a video camera," said one.

"We should set up a blockade," said another (he may not have said "blockade" but that was the spirit of his suggestion).

Yet another blamed the fact that a nearby church had been vandalized on the fact that I hadn't cracked down on the children cutting through my yard.

Recognizing the turmoil my lack of action was causing for my neighbours, I decided to talk to the offenders. I decided to appeal to their logic (a sound approach when dealing with children). I would point out to them that walking through my yard was not in fact a short-cut; it was no more efficient, shorter or faster than walking on the street (this is a fact). Yes, I was certain that once I pointed this out, they would change their ways, having learned an important lesson - in life and in math.

As I was heading out the door to work one day, a bit later than usual, two unsuspecting seven-year-olds walked the familiar path through my backyard and to my driveway. They were struck with fear upon seeing me (well, at least surprise).

"Hi," I said, feeling no need to be confrontational. "I want you to walk around from now on. I don't want you to walk through my yard."

The little boy nodded. The little girl was not swayed so easily. "But it takes too long to walk around," she argued.

This was my chance. "Actually," I said, "It's the same distance. Cutting through my yard isn't any shorter." She looked doubtful.

"Yes it is."

"No it's not."

"Yes it is."

"Really, it's not."

The little boy chimed in, looking at his friend, "Actually she's right. It's not any shorter."

"HA!" (OK, I didn't say this out loud but I was thinking it.)

"Oh," the little girl said, deflated. She looked at me. "Well, can you drive us to school then?"

"No she can't drive us to school!" her friend exclaimed. (I am relieved at his clearheadedness). "She has to go to work!" (Oh dear. Have they not heard of "stranger danger"?)

With that they were on their way. I haven't seen them since, at least not their faces. I thought I saw the backs of them running out of my driveway the other day, and I suspect they still cut through regularly. I can't be bothered to get too worked up about it. As for my neighbours, they've moved. Coincidence, I'm sure.

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