10:01 PM As I sit in my office writing this, and there are currently two local news trucks parked in front of my house. They have been there for hours.
One is a satellite truck that I suspect will begin a live remote from my front yard in less than an hour. (Now I know what Drew Petersen feels like. Okay, maybe not, but at least I wish we had replaced the curtains on the front-door windows after we painted so we could walk past them without being seen.)
Why are the trucks here?
Those of you who know us, know that each year we seem to add more kitsch to our crazy yard collection. We currently have five large blow-ups (Frosty, a Nutcracker, Santa and Rudolf, and yes, a nativity scene). We also have three trees that play music and offer a coordinated light show, and we have the usual lighting on trees, bushes, and rooftops. Until last Saturday night, we also had a blow-up Christmas tree.
Around ten o’clock last Sunday morning as we were getting dressed for church, a local dad who is also a part-time football coach came and apologized for his son and some friends who during the night had damaged our tree beyond repair. While a couple of kids sat in his truck, he stood at our door and took full responsibility. I thought it was a bit strange he wasn’t making the kids apologize and I found it even odder when the kids didn’t return later that afternoon as he replaced our tree with an oversized blow-up Christmas bulb. Had my son done something like that I would have made him do the hard, humbling work, and I would have stood behind him as he did.
However, we later learned why the kids weren’t there. They weren’t the only ones who were at fault.
In an effort to bond with his sixth grade team, it is alleged that he loaded the kids into the back of his pick-up truck, drove them across the street from his wealthy subdivision into our middle class neighborhood, and allowed the kids to wreak havoc on our neighborhood Christmas decorations.
When a neighbor caught and confronted him, his alleged response was direct, “You caught me. I guess I didn’t use good judgment.”
Turns out we actually know the dad. My son and his son played on the same team last year. His catering company donated food to a rather large football event and it was so good I considered hiring him for some things we had planned. And just the week before, my husband had actually run into him and his son at a walk-through-Bethlehem event at a local church.
But now, as a result of not using good judgment, he is being charged with criminal trespassing, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and reckless conduct.
This man has had to undergo some very humbling experiences–apologizing to victims, explaining his actions to the players’ parents, spending a short time in jail, and suffering the humiliation of having his mug shot shown again and again in local news in stories like this one.
It is weird to sit in your house and know that just outside they are editing videos and piecing together interviews that involve your story.
The 11:00 news. Live from my front yard.
This is the second local station to pick up on the story and they were much more concerned about the sixth graders putting lighted reindeer in compromising sexual positions. Apparently the parent-coach is no longer cooperating with police (probably on his lawyer’s advice) and the neighbor who caught him in the act quoted him as saying he was “just trying to have a little fun.”
A little fun. A little bad judgment. A whole lot of consequences.
As I watch from the window while the news team packs up their equipment, I am thankful that my house was on TV only because it made a good backdrop, not because I did something wrong. I can’t even imagine the shame and guilt of hiding out in your own house while the media peers through your windows.
Yet, neither can I imagine finding out that a coach would in any way encourage such activity with kids who were placed in his trust.
In the end, we’re not the victims. Just like the coach, we’re people who are capable of acting without thinking, people who want a little fun, and people who regularly make bad judgments. This incident is a reminder that not only should we walk through Bethlehem, but we should take some of it home with us. And pass that on to our kids.
Our tree may have been cut…but let’s hope it wasn’t the kids who were scarred.