When you’re a child, adults warn you to avoid strangers at all costs. What I don’t understand is, why doesn’t anybody warn you when you’re an adult to avoid strange children at all costs?
“Strange children? Whatever do you mean? Kids are sweet, innocent creatures, Candy!” you surely are admonishing me right now. To which I must respond: “Phooey!” Because there are a lot of mean children with less-than-honorable intentions out there, believe you me. And by “less than honorable,” I mean outright criminal. Why, just yesterday Skye, Mr. Candy, Drew and I were enjoying a lovely afternoon at the park. While I sat with Drew in his stroller, Mr. Candy oversaw Skye’s intricate Sand-Pushing Operation, in which she would dump sand on the sidewalk and push it back in the sand with her plastic gardening tools. Over and over again. Boring, but harmless — when out of nowhere, three older girls, old enough to know better, descended upon Skye and started grabbing her toys, as if entitled to them. They never asked for permission. Never acknowledged that these were NOT THEIR TOYS. Simply grabbed the bucket and shovel out of my two-year-old daughter’s hands and claimed ownership. Or, as any reasonable court of law would call it, petty theft. I could tell from Skye’s body language that she was not pleased. Perhaps it was her reaching out for her favorite toys and crying, “MINE!” that gave it away, I don’t know. But, perceptive mom that I am, I knew she was not happy.
“What are you going to do about this?” my eyes communicated to Mr. Candy.
“I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me, so I’m going to assume it means you want sex tonight,” his eyes responded.
Having infinitely more patience than I do, Mr. Candy calmly told Miss Skye to share her toys, because “sharing is fun!” Not with these brats, my furrowed brow implied. But I miraculously managed to keep both my brow in check and my mouth shut UNTIL… a girl ran off with Skye’s bucket. The bucket Skye loves. The bucket she got for her birthday. The bucket, it must be noted, with princesses on it.
Nobody messes with Skye’s princess bucket.
“COME BACK HERE WITH THAT!” I screamed, running after the three-foot blonde thief in the sand in my two-inch heels. The thief proceeded to hand the bucket to her dad — for safekeeping, I presume — and run off in search of more loot.
“That’s my daughter’s,” I informed the princess bucket thief’s father, my scowl indicating that he was raising a thug with curls.
“Whatever,” he laughed, throwing the bucket at me. He returned to talking about Fantasy Football with his dad buddy and paying no attention to his daughter.
No wonder these kids have no respect for others’ property. Their parents never taught them the basic courtesy of “please” and “thank you.” Never taught them to kindly refrain from absconding with a little girl’s favorite toy. I imagined what the father would look like with a princess bucket full of sand on his head. I immediately felt better about the state of the world.
Just as I returned to the scene of the crime, another girl, probably six years old, started walking away with one of Skye’s yellow cups.
“Mah lellow cup! Mah lellow cup!” Skye cried, wondering how we had landed in this bandits’ lair.
“Drop it,” I hissed. I stared the six-year-old down, my glare communicating that I would not hesitate to launch her from the see-saw if I had to.
Oh, she dropped it, all right. More like THREW it in the opposite direction, so I would have to chase it down — and shrugged as if to say, “Whatever.” Her glare communicating that she would not hesitate to flip me the finger to punctuate her point if she had to.
I noticed the girl’s mom watching us. I embraced the opportunity to take the high road.
“Let’s get out of here, Skye. These kids are RUDE!” I yelled pointedly, scooping up all of Skye’s toys. For the first time ever, Skye did not protest leaving the park.
Which is my way of imparting this important parental advice: If you go to the park with a princess bucket, be sure to wear your sneakers to chase down pint-sized thieves. Also, do not hesitate to teach those thieves a helpful phrase, one that somebody should have taught them a long time ago: “My daddy has hemorrhoids!” It may not ensure the return of your daughter’s princess bucket, but it will make you feel really good inside.