We live around the corner from these people in Portland who decorate for most holidays. And when I say decorate, I don't mean in the way that common mortals put a few pumpkins on their porches or string lights at Christmas. These Super-heroes of the Holiday World must have a storage unit somewhere with their stash of goods for Halloween, Christmas, the Fourth of July, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day. They go so far out at Halloween that The Oregonian did a story on them last year and hundreds (probably thousands) of kids make their way by the house this time of year.
Since we live so close by, friends and relatives will sometimes stop by our place at night to go to the Halloween House all lit up and spooky. It's fun to walk over and then come home for hot chocolate. Kids love this place. The house features: a Bates Motel sign, ring of ghosts in the front yard with a pot of dry ice in the center (every night, not just Halloween night), various skeletons and skulls placed about, horror movie cardboard characters looking out from the front windows, hands reaching up out of the ground, big plastic candycorns, a bloody head in shackles, etc. It's hard to remember what all is there off the top of my head. Just believe me: it's over the top and wonderful.
Yesterday while babysitting a friend's two kids for a couple of hours, we walked over to the Halloween House so they could have a look. As we walked up, this fancy Lincoln Continental pulled up and parked next to the house and four kids poured out. All four kids proceeded to admire the decorations by running through the yard, even amidst all the goodies including the ring of ghosts (my favorite part). I was shocked.
Now granted, these were grandparents taking their kids there, so maybe it was just an issue of grandparents spoiling grandkids and not that these four kids were disrespectful brats. Of course, the three-year-old in my charge saw the goings-on and wanted to run around with them. I explained, loudly enough for the clueless grandparents to hear, that the decorations are for admiring from the sidewalk and that we were not going to trespass.
I know I probably sounded bitchy. I'm sorry. But not really.
After a few moments, the grandmother mosied over towards me and actually said, "Oh, I know I shouldn't let them run in the yard, but...oh well...it's there." Huh?! It's there? What kind of logic is that? What is wrong with people today? How is it okay for these four kids to be allowed to run around touching and stepping all over the hard work of the owners of this house? I had no idea how to respond to this woman, so I just walked away saying nothing.
In retrospect (because isn't that always how these things work?), I thought about how I wished I had told her, as nicely as possible, that I'm a neighbor and appreciate what these people do every year and that I want them to continue doing it and that if people driving by don't respect that, then the happy Halloween-lovers might get pissed and get tired of the bother.
Sigh. Am I crazy for getting so mad? Maybe it's the old-fart in me, thinking about how this kind of thing is exactly what's wrong with people today: a sloppy lack of respect of both self and others. It's easier to just let kids run wild. Actually making the effort to teach them that dignity and respect are values that honor oneself and others takes some work. It doesn't come naturally to most of us. I know it didn't for me, which is why my Momma could make me straighten up the slouch (usually during a long church service) by just pursing her lips into a tight line from the choir loft. I was not a perfect child by any means, but one thing for sure is that Momma taught us to respect other people's things (which is why I had to save up my allowance to buy my sister a new rubik's cube when I "solved" hers by taking all the stickers off and putting them in the "right" place--and they still somehow let me into the gifted program a couple of years later).
So that is my daily rant. I'm curious what else I could have said, how else I could have responded in this situation. Maybe I did the right thing by just walking off, but probably not. I could have at least rolled my eyes at her before I turned around, right?
Now this is in no way connected to the above rant, but I found it interesting anyway. These spiders look a lot like the thousands we have in our backyard now and maybe is the same kind that bit my face last weekend. If you like spiders like I do, enjoy (oh, and possibly a PG-rating as well):