Don't Crucify Parents
By Cap'n O
MAY 17, 1999: There could not have been a nicer day for what we two fourth-graders were doing. It was a warm, breezy spring afternoon, snake-like growths were falling from the cottonwood trees, and Jim and I were eager to complete our after-school project.
Jim had the nails. I had the hammer. We found the wood in the alleys around the neighborhood. We laid one piece of lumber on the dirt. We nailed a second piece straight across the first piece and nailed a small block of wood to the bottom of the first piece.
Then we held up our project. We were thrilled. We had built a kid-sized crucifix.
The next task was the most important part of our project. We went looking for the kid we were going to nail to the cross. We hunted for Daniel, a classmate. We rang his doorbell, checked his shed and looked in his basement.
Luckily for Daniel, we didn't find him that afternoon. I say luckily because we were going to nail him to that cross. We didn't like him. He made us mad because he tried to stand in line with us at recess and tried to walk home from school with us. Daniel wanted to be our friend. So we decided to crucify him.
In eighth grade, Jim, Gary and I formed a three-kid club called The Destructors. We wandered through alleys at dusk knocking over garbage cans, spreading garbage all over and making the alleys even more attractive to rats than they already were.
That same school year we had great fun spraypainting black swastikas on the garages of people we didn't like.
Although we weren't arsonists, we made small devices that could shoot stick matches 40 or 50 feet. We shot matches at houses and at people.
I always wanted to build a dungeon in the basement. Rich dreamed about derailing a passenger train, and Gary wanted to build a submarine, complete with torpedoes that we could fire at cruise ships.
Eddie read war books and plotted a world takeover. He had an enemies list that included his brother and his barber. Once for a school science project, he proposed making tiny electric chairs for mice.
Sometimes we were mildly crazy. Sometimes we were outrageous. But there's one thing about all of those crazy ideas we had and things we did that people must understand: Our parents didn't know a damn thing about those things.
They couldn't have. We didn't tell them. We never talked in front of them about derailing trains, building dungeons and crucifying classmates. And when we did have things like match shooters and spray paint that we didn't want them to see, we stashed the stuff outside of the home. We hid stuff on railroad track embankments, in fields and in small, three-feet wide spaces between garages that no one ever checked.
That's why it's sickening to hear all the hysterical talk in the aftermath of the Colorado high school shootings about how we now must charge parents with crimes for every dumb and dangerous thing their kids do.
It's easy to say that parents should be responsible for and know everything their kids do. But the truth is, that's impossible.
How can parents know that their kids are plotting to crucify a classmate when the kids decide to do it that afternoon and don't tell their parents about it?
How can parents know that their kids have been trying to
burn down buildings with matches when the matches and other things are stashed in a weed-choked field?
How can parents know everything their kids are thinking and doing?
They can't. So let's stop pretending that they can, and let's stop with the hysterical overreaction to the Littleton killings.
I do know that had our parents known what we were up to they would have beaten the shit out of us. Our dad used a leather belt on us. Today he'd be accused of child abuse.
But even though we were afraid of getting whipped, we still goofed off and plotted strange and improper adventures.
That's what kids do. It's human nature.
So stop the hysteria and let's act like reasonable people.
And if anybody sees Daniel, let me know. I've got another cross waiting for him.
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