Imperfectly Nice

The emotional stages experienced by victims of yard rolling

My husband is a football coach, and a well-loved football coach at that. He loves those boys as much – maybe more – than they love him. There are all sorts of life lessons and bonding and fathering going on there. It’s all very touching. I, however, am not a football coach and don’t know these boys that well, if at all. I like them in a once-removed sort of way. I like them because I hear what he says about them, but I don’t teach them life lessons or mother them, although there is always the hope of becoming the next Leigh Anne Tuohy. I mean, I may not be the millionaire co-owner of a chalupa chain, but I still have a lot to offer and Claire Danes could play me in the movie as we have the same ugly cry face. The point is that I do have a certain amount of affection for these boys that I hardly know, but not so much as my husband, obviously. That affection by proxy is being tested this week …

Because this is homecoming week and 14-18 year old kids across the county are joyfully launching rolls of toilet paper into the air leaving two-ply streamers hanging from tree branches like so much white Spanish moss. As I am married to the aforementioned coach, we expected to wake up to a white yard at some point this week. Tuesday was the day.

Tuesday 7:15 a.m.
The Denial Phase

I was walking through the kitchen to grab my son’s lunch box and I saw something white fluttering from the trees outside of my kitchen window. I went to the front doors and saw my yard was a toilet paper wonderland. They rolled the trees, the bushes, the ground, the door handles, even the mail box. I surveyed their work and I laughed. I was a teenager once, after all, and rolled a few houses – and maybe even a school – in my time. Maybe last year, the adults in my neighborhood would roll yards after the kids went to bed. Anyway, it’s good times! Ah, those crazy kids.

I told my son to just wait and see what was in the yard. He walked outside, mouth open and stood for a moment. Then he ran, squealing through the mounds of white on the ground, the streamers hanging from the tree branches tickling his face. “Mommy! This is the best day EVER!” he said. “Who DID this for us?” So cute, I thought, that he thinks someone did this for us and not to us. I even snapped a few pictures and posted them, poking fun at the whole situation.

My neighbors were texting me, “I swear it wasn’t me!” And “My kids love your ‘Halloween’ decorations!” There were lots of “LOLs” and “hahas.”

Tuesday 5:30 p.m.
Still the Denial Phase

I pick up my son and tell him we are going to have to spend “a few minutes” cleaning up when we get home.

Tuesday 6 p.m.
The End of the Denial Phase

Wow. They really put a lot of toilet paper in my yard. Like, a LOT. And they not only threw it and left it on the ground, they really tore up each individual square and left them scattered around the ground. I mean, there must be hundreds, maybe thousands, of little toilet paper pieces. Did I mention we live on almost three acres?

Tuesday 6:30 p.m.
The Anger Phase

If I have to pick up one more piece of this paper, I am going to lose it. I have been doing this for a good 30 minutes and it looks like I’ve done nothing.

Tuesday 6:35 p.m.
The Acceptance Phase

Our friends see us outside and come to help in the cleanup efforts. Our boys have a glorious time and work on their rolling technique, using the half-empty rolls left behind to try and hook the paper over the branches when they throw. This isn’t so bad! The kids are having fun.

Tuesday 6:45 p.m.
The Anger Phase (Yes, again)

A truck drives past and the neighbors say they see the driver taking photos. As our neighborhood consists of two streets that end in cul de sacs, I know they will be back. I wait. And wait.

Finally, I see them coming again, and pretty much put myself in the path of the oncoming truck, saying, “Well! Did y’all come back to show your friends your handy work?!” At which point I realize there is a grown man driving the truck. But he was driving kids around and they were taking photos. I had an internal battle standing on the edge of my yard and decided that passive aggressive was the way to go, especially after hearing his lame excuses and realizing he is a not very nice person who lives near us and is a lying liar who lies.

Tuesday 7 p.m.
The Bargaining Phase

My husband calls to tell me he is on the way home from football practice. I ask him if he has a truckload of football players with him to help with the cleanup efforts. He says no. I tell him that I am fine with the little juvenile delinquents having their fun, but they should be nice and come help. (Because that is what I always did! If always means never.) He laughs.

He, the man who was at practice with these kids while I cleaned up their mess, laughs. At this point, I may be headed back to the anger phase.

Wednesday 7 a.m.
The Bargaining/Acceptance Phase

No new toilet paper hanging from my trees. Happy day! I think I may even put a sign on my door tonight that says they can have their fun, I won’t be an old jerk about it, and will even buy them pizza, but I would really like it if I saw them at my house to help clean up if they do it again.

Wednesday 8:30 a.m.
The Anger Phase (Yes, AGAIN)

I hear that a bunch of girls were in on the rolling of my yard. So … not just the football players my husband cares about and I care about by proxy. Other kids, kids I do not care about by proxy. Which, fine, the girls were there with their friends. And they are probably some of my husband’s students who love him, too. THEN I hear one of them gave a big “whatever” when she hears I was joking about making their trespassing behinds do cleanup work in my yard. Oh, I do not like a “whatever” from a 16-year old. I do not like it at all. And Miss Whatever isn’t even a beloved student of my husband’s. He doesn’t even know who she is. How quickly they have made the transition in my head from kids having a little fun to a bunch of law-breaking troublemakers.

Wednesday 8:35 a.m. – present time
The Plotting Phase

So now I wait. I think the little psychological terrorists know the waiting is the worst part. Or perhaps I am giving too much credit to kids who had yard rolling t-shirts printed WITH THEIR NAMES ON THEM for this week.

Honestly, I do believe these are kids having a good time, just like I did back then. (And maybe last year, too.) But I would sort of like to scare the bejesus out of them if they do come back. We obviously didn’t respect parents enough to say, NOT, roll their yard when we were in high school, but we still had a healthy fear of them and would have cleaned and groveled and begged had we been caught. I would like for these kids to have that same, healthy fear. I don’t want to report them to the police or call their parents. I just want them to believe that maybe I am slightly unbalanced and they shouldn’t “whatever” me.

The thing is, whatever I may plot I may concoct to scare them has one fatal flaw. It is the one thing they have one over me – youth. I may be perfectly prepared to do something to freak them out a little but this will do me absolutely no good if I can’t manage to stay awake to do it. So, it looks like the probability of me waking up to yet another toilet paper wonderland in my yard this week is high. And that’s okay. But, kids, have a little respect for your elders. Especially if that elder isn’t going to turn you in or call the police. I will be cool about it if you are but if you “whatever” me, I may have to call your mom/boss/principal and tell him you keyed my car.* You totally didn’t but will anyone really believe you, you little criminal?

*I would never actually do this. Or would I?



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