Sunday, November 2, 2008

Is it just “mischief” or is it vandalism?

Posted in Life tagged , , at 5:03 pm by Elaine Petrowski

Something’s been on my mind for a few days but I’ve been reluctant to share for fear of sounding like the wicked old witch at Halloween.

But maybe because the evidence has refused to blow, or wash away in some rain, as I hoped it would, and  maybe because I spent part of this golden and glorious autumn afternoon cleaning up streamers of toilet paper, it won’t let me go until I have my say.

And that’s right. I did say  “toilet paper”.  I gathered it up in 10- foot-long streamers from the shrubs and leaf piles in front of our home and from the side yards of the neighbors that face us.

“Toilet paper?  Why on earth is she cleaning up streams of toilet paper, ” you might be asking?

I ask that too. And I’ve asked that every year since I moved to New Jersey.

jack-o-lantern at the New York Botanical Garden

jack-o-lantern at the New York Botanical Garden

Call me crazy, but where I come from, in the 105th precinct, at the far eastern edge of Queens, NY festooning the neighborhood bushes and trees with unfurled rolls of toilet paper, pelting parked cars and houses with eggs, or covering them in shaving cream, or trespassing onto a neighbor’s front porch to steal, and then smash, their holiday pumpkins would have most certainly been defined by the NYPD ( not to mention my parents!) as VANDALISM, not mischief.

Did you ever hear of “mischief night” … aka cabbage night, goosey night, devil’s night?  I thought not.

Seems it’s a New Jersey phenomenon that defies all logic. Check it out  on  this web site ,which actually

claims that “the night of October 30th can be a healthy and creative outlet for inevitable teenaged rebellion.”


My own daughters will tell you my stance on this issue is nothing new.  When they reached the age where their friends were permitted to participate and they wanted to go along on “Mischief Night” antics, I held my ground. Absolutely, positively NOT, with no room for negotiating.  As I explained to them:  Where I come from, such activities were called juvenile delinquency.

So imagine my utter astonishment this year on the night before Halloween, when just after dark,  I thought I  heard voices and so went to the front window. There I witnessed a troop of five or six small children, perhaps  6 or 8 years old, happily yelping and tossing reams of toilet paper onto the properties of all the neighbors. A disturbing fact in-and-of-itself, made all the more disturbing because they were accompanied by their parents.

People, people what are you teaching your children???? That it’s  OK this once?  That this night is different? That everyone else is doing it? That you meant no harm?  That it’s fun and funny?  That it’s only paper?  That it’s someone else’s property and so doesn’t matter?

WHAT are you thinking? Or more to the point, ARE you thinking?

Grow up and be the parent your child needs.

1 Comment »

  1. deborah said,

    So now you know who the parents of class bullies are. Geez. I’ve turned my sprinklers on the delinquents…

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