On an irregular basis, the local newspaper allows 500-word articles from members of the Youth Editorial Board. These are intelligent high school students. I am often impressed with their knowledge of social problems, and their mature suggestions.
I was recently sadly disappointed by a female Catholic student’s rant, titled Complaint About Rink, Masks a Bigger Problem. A family in this hilly little town had found a large enough flat spot to build a small rink in their front yard. By-law Enforcement had become aware of it, and the City gave them two weeks to dismantle it.
I share her opinion that Canadian kids are overweight and out of shape, and need all the outdoor exercise they can get. The City has sufficient good reasons to specifically make this behavior illegal, and mentioned several of them in their media release. To ensure compliance, a possible fine was stated.
Not one to let the facts get in the way of a good story, she went on to paint the family, not as lawbreakers, but as Phys-Ed heroes, and later, as downtrodden victims.
If she built a snowman on her lawn, would someone file a complaint about that too? If it were eight feet high and blocking sightlines at an intersection – Yes!
She felt that vanity(?) was triumphing over enjoyment. All exercise and fun obtained in a back yard would be just as enjoyable – and less dangerous.
She felt it was unfair that they had to dismantle the illegal structure because just one person filed a complaint. It’s possible that the entire street narc-ed out these people, or that only one did, with the knowledge and support of many others. How dare the City threaten a fine? It wouldn’t be imposed, if they just obeyed the directive.
The list of weasel-word excuses that she used to rationalize her denigration of the complainant was long and impressive. She listed: intimidation and oppression, lowering self-esteem, verbal and physical abuse, criticism can follow creativity, attack with negative words, victims, power and control, lonely perpetrator craving attention, jealousy, compensating for their own troubles, anger, unfair, bullying, and frustration.
The City’s main stated reason for not allowing this behavior centered around the 14 inch steel tent pegs used to anchor the frame boards. Things like this, driven into the ground, could damage telephone and cable lines, power cables, and water and sewer pipes. These would not happen if the rink were situated in the back yard.
Not mentioned by the City, were things like wobbly figure skaters or body-checked little hockey players crashing into passing pedestrians and baby carriages, or even worse, onto driveways, as cars pull in or out. Hockey pucks or frozen rubber balls can break windows and dent cars and garage doors. Kids chasing them into the street can easily be run over.
The midnight-shift worker who tries to sleep during the day would be none too pleased with a noisy crowd of kids beneath his front bedroom window. None of these things have anything to do with vanity or oppression, merely safety and good manners.
Just wait till she gets older, gets married and moves into her own little house in the suburbs, next to a neighbors-from-Hell family like the one she’s currently defending. The people who casually violate City ordinances about front-yard rinks, do it so that their kids have fun, not so that neighbor kids get exercise.
These same people are the ones who own a dog which is tethered outside 24/7, to bark its head off, or a cat that they let run loose to shit in your carefully tended garden beneath your living room window. They think nothing of having an illegal campfire in their backyard, which fills your house with smoke, and forces you to close all your windows on otherwise lovely days.
They feel entitled to blast loud music from their stereo out through windows and French doors, all day and night, while they throw loud, drunken parties on their deck, or in the pool or hot-tub. Now who’s intimidating, oppressing or bullying? Ah, the joys of living in the city, there’s one on every block.
When we moved in here, the 10-year old from across the street wanted to play one-on-one street hockey with his friend, using their driveway and ours as ‘goals.’ I told him clearly that I would not allow it. I didn’t want our car, or the house, dinged and marked, or the work and expensive garden plants wasted and ruined.
We left to go shopping one day and came back to a hockey net blocking our driveway, and the two boys resting on the curb. He jumped up and moved the net – the first time. I repeated that it was ‘my’ driveway, and I didn’t want him playing here.
We had lunch and went back out. On returning the second time, there was the net, blocking our access again, and he was now too tired to get up and move the net. My son got out of the car and threw it onto the boulevard.
Not five minutes later his mother came over to accuse the son of ‘putting a hole’ in it. It’s a hockey net. It’s all hole! And I don’t care how much healthy exercise he’s getting, it doesn’t belong on my driveway.
I think our little ‘fitness and fun’ defender’s entire screed “masks a bigger problem.” She needs to grow up, and I think when she does, our rose-colored-glasses wearing, sheltered little Catholic, is in for some nasty surprises about urban reality.