A tongue-lashing for playground vandalism
Hinsdale 11/20/07 Western Springs Columnist: Vicki Gonia Doings photo by Steve Johnston
Updated: October 1, 2012 3:24PM
If you were my child, and I found out you’d been involved in vandalizing playground equipment in Western Springs, you would hear the following, while shifting from one foot to the other, trapped in a corner of the kitchen with no way to get around my acidic voice and my pointing finger.
You know who vandalizes playgrounds? *Expletives* vandalize playgrounds. *Expletives* with no respect for their own home turf, their neighbors or their parents. *Expletives* who have so little imagination that they think gouging obscenities into playground equipment, and then using brute force to rock playground equipment off its bolts is fun.
Was it fun? Are you an *expletive*? Answer me. No? Are you sure? Because what did I just say? (I’ve got a flailing-arm thing that I do at this point — you’d be bobbing and weaving to avoid being hit.) *Expletives* vandalize playground equipment. You vandalize playground equipment. Do the math.
You know who paid for that playground equipment? I did (I stab my own chest with my finger here, for effect). I paid for it, and so did every other ADULT living in Western Springs. We paid for it with our taxes and in some cases, outright donations. Do you want to learn about taxes right now? No? Quit shrugging like that. That’s really annoying.
Lemme just give you a quick rundown. When you own a house, like this one that you live in, you pay thousands of dollars every year in property taxes. Your property taxes go to the state, to the county, and to the schools and the town in which you live. Property taxes pay for libraries, and schools, and playgrounds — all kinds of stuff that make your precious little *expletive* life so awesome. You can thank me later, but you should thank me now.
What’s that? What did you just mutter under your breath? Your life isn’t awesome? Are you sure? How about we hop in the car right now and take a little drive and I’ll show you awesome. Maybe I can find someone to adopt you. And hand over your cell phone, your laptop and your iPod. We’ll give them to someone who deserves them.
You know who uses that playground equipment that you, with your *expletive* friends, whilst surely giggling like the bunch of stupid little *expletives* that you are, pushed and pulled until it came off it’s moorings? Little kids use that playground equipment.
You used to be a little kid.
You probably don’t remember, but I used to take you to Spring Rock almost every day. You used to stand at the helm of that playground ship and twist the steering wheel and shout “Ahoy! Matey!” Don’t snicker, you little *expletive*. You want to see the pictures? No? Why not? Because you’d realize you just ruined the opportunity for other little kids to have that kind of fun? Because you did.
I’m serious about the tour of another neighborhood. You know what you’ll see at those playgrounds? Burn marks and damaged equipment. Obscenities scratched and painted into the slides and the pretend ships. And no one is cleaning them up or replacing them.You’ll also see emptiness, because kids are afraid to play there because they might get shot. Shot at the playground or on their way to school. You know, with a gun. You like damaged playground equipment so much, why don’t we move to that neighborhood, huh? I’d save a heck of a lot on property taxes, though I’d be a little worried about you getting shot.
You setting fire to, or scratching obscenities in, or pushing and pulling and giggling until that really big piece of equipment became separated from its bolts? You just told me that you don’t care. You don’t care that I work hard so that you can get an excellent education and grow up in a safe place. You don’t care. Since you don’t, let’s move. You’re not entitled to this place, and you certainly don’t deserve to live here.
I’ve written in this space, pretty recently, about giving kids a break. They make mistakes, we made some of the same mistakes when we were young, yadda yadda. But that doesn’t mean we let them off the hook.
I’m not entirely sure why I’m so angry about vandalism at our parks. It probably has something to do with how many sacrifices my own parents made to ensure I got an excellent education while living in a safe neighborhood, sacrifices that reaped great rewards, and are 100 percent responsible for the fact that I am now able to call Western Springs home.
Our children need to know how lucky they are. Many of them don’t. And if they don’t know it, it’s our fault.
Readers can contact Viki Gonia by leaving a message at (708) 824-8027 or by sending an email to email@example.com.