Trying to be good parents is a challenge to say the least. Being new parents, no one presents you with a handbook, where we can turn to page 63 and see what we're supposed to do when say, a child steals one of your children's toys.
The first house we lived in was in Pensacola Florida. My husband was a flag driver for the admiral, so it was a nice tour for him. This was the first house we owned. Unfortunately, we did not discover that our neighbors were mentally challenged in anyway until after we moved in.
The neighbors on the right slept during the day and cooked and partied at night. I suppose there were at least 15 people living in the house. When we decided it was time to go to bed, they decided it was time for supper. As they were feuding with the garbage people at the time, they bagged their garbage and stacked it on the side of the house facing our bedroom window. The smell...ah, the smell... We tolerated it for about a week, then made an anonymous call to the health department, who, in turn, made them come out and clean it up.
One day, the lady next door came over, introduced herself, a beautiful, cultured, black woman, and said, "Do you know what someone did to us?" Well, you know what someone did to them. We did it. I, of course, played dumb. "I can't believe it!" I said. We actually became good neighbors, well, she and I did. My husband never forgave them for the trash incident.
The house on the other side of us was the house that could have been occupied by Cheech and Chong had they been the parents of 6 or 7 children, we were never really sure how many lived there. The guy here ,too, only came out at night, and it was usually to work on some kind of diesel engine that required someone to rev it up over and over again. Or, one of his favorite past times was to grab his chain saw, and start pruning his trees. Maybe he needed firewood, (in Pensacola, during the summer of 79?). We just thought he was crazy, and probably should be avoided at all costs.
That changed when we noticed the black plastic car in their yard. Because EJ, all of 10 months old, had a black plastic car just like it. It was about a foot long, a convertible, and he could park his diapered ass on it and scoot around. It had been stolen! One of the nefarious little children from next door had snuck in our yard and had stolen it. At this time in our lives, we never considered confronting the parents and demanding the return of our child's toy. That would come later. With experience. Remember, we had no handbook!
We decided to wait until everyone was gone, hop the fence and steal it back. EJ had been walking for some time now. And he toddled after us as we made our way to the fence, checking the backyard for the crazy man, nope, he's gone, making sure the coast was clear. Then, my husband gingerly, standing on tip-toes, stepped over the fence, and keeping low to the ground, grabbed the black car, turned and ran like the devil, and practically leaped back over to safety. EJ was delighted. He sat on his little car and scooted around for a bit, while my husband and I sat on the front porch steps, feeling like theives, waiting for the sirens.
Then ,wordlessly, we watched, as he grabbed his little plastic car, walked to the fence, and, with all his might, through it over into the neighbors yard. Then he looked at us, expectantly. Then he pointed. "Ca! Ca!" he called. "WEll, shit!" my husband, said. He turned around and walked in the house.
When the boys were three and four, he listened to EJ cry and tell about a bigger boy of seven who had stolen his He-man sword, and went with EJ so he could show his daddy who the boy was. I'm saying, "let's just get him another sword." "No! It's the principle of the thing!"
So, my husband spent one whole afternoon following a seven year old boy, waiting for him to put his sword down so he could steal it back for EJ. We were watching TV when he came bounding in the house, "I got it! I got it!" We were so proud...until, we discovered EJ's sword behind the sofa. Which meant, my husband had just stolen a toy from a seven year old boy for no reason whatsoever.
The next morning, the little seven year old boy came to the door and demanded his sword. I gave it to him, and apologized, saying it was a mistake. He just looked at me, and asked, "Tell your husband to quit following me or I'm gonna tell my dad and he'll beat him up!"
"Yes," I said. "I will." What could I say? I didn't have a handbook!