Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Park Cleanup: Boys and Graffiti

Jacob's cub scout pack volunteers to clean up our local park for the annual Easter egg hunt. It's one scout activity that I actually enjoy. The boys are hard workers (as are the parents) and the weather is usually nice. Also, I am convinced that if we spend enough hours picking up trash during these years, my son will not be one of the boys throwing his beer bottle against the handball courts in ten years. I hope.

This year, we discovered more than the standard fast food wrappers, broken beer bottles, and cigarette butts. Several of the boys were picking up butts around a bench a few dozen yards away from me. I saw them huddled around the edge of the bench, then they all came scooting across the lawn to me. "There's some writing on the bench!" I looked around for other parents and realized that I was the closest to the action, so I allowed myself to be pulled back to the bench. One of the boys read the graffiti in his very best read-aloud voice. "For mindless sex go to ..." followed by a web address. The boys all looked at me with big eyes as the reader asked, "What does it mean?"

I gulped, then attempted to distract. "Oh, what a shame! Who would write on a bench like this? That is just not nice. You boys know better than to vandalize the park like that! I'm so glad that you are nice boys! Good job on the cigarette butts. Let's go over by the garden and look for more!" Six eyes stared back at me. They weren't about to let me get away with it.

"But what does it mean?" They waited expectantly.

"You boys are going to have to ask your parents. Jacob, wait here and we'll talk about it." The two other boys shot across the park with lightning speed, screaming for their parents the whole way. I blabbered some sort of explanation to Jacob, most of which I can't even remember. I do remember wrapping it up with a stern warning that the writing was not appropriate for children and that if the other boys had questions they should talk to their parents about it. Jake wandered off after getting bored to tears by my lecture. I made my way back up the hill to the other parents.

"Sooooo, what did you say?" I asked.

"Well," replied another mother. "I said that we'd talk about it later. And then my son said that Jacob's mother knows what it means and if it was ok with me, he'd just go back and ask you again." She laughed and we went back to picking up litter. Ten minutes later, the boys were back at the bench again.

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