The past few days it’s been very quiet at our house. Partly because in 95 degree sweltering heat kids aren’t outside walking and playing around as much. Partly because we closed the trampoline. We found that a few of the kids were sneaking the kids ATV out from the garage, into the woods. It doesn’t work without the key, which I rarely supply, it becomes a difficult thing to control. I thought it was odd that they’d would be pushing each other on it, how could that be fun? I didn’t think much of it the first few times I saw them pushing it back, I talked to them and warned them not to take things without permission (a unique request for some of these kids!). Then the other day I figured I would get the key and start it up, allowing some of them to roam the neighborhood trails. To my shock, the ignition was completely ripped out, the wires leading to various parts of the engine unplugged, the battery wires all stripped. These monkeys had been attempting to hotwire it, and in the process has completely destroyed parts of the ATV.
The next day we were eating supper on our deck, and heard some voices in the forest, then kids running. They had taken it again! Right from under our noses! They were pushing it back into the garage when one of them noticed us eating outside and signaled to the rest.. off they went, parking the ATV on the edge of the treeline.
I have a pretty good idea which kids were involved, but not certain. Instead of guessing, we’ve decided to put group pressure on them (it’s worked before on similar issues). We’ve taken the bouncy mat off the trampoline, and placed signs around the property which state:
“The trampoline is closed today. We will open it again when the kids that took the ATV without permission come and see me – bruce” .. in Russian of course.
Well the note has caused a bit of a stir. Every day we have kids coming and reading the sign. This afternoon we had a group of teens on their scooters come and park out front and discuss the situation. They all love the trampoline, some of them come and lay on it, play cards for hours. It’s just a metal frame now, awaiting the guilty party to come and talk to me. Bronwyn thinks I’m hoping in vain, she may be right. I know the pressure is on the guilty party though, I want every kids around to know that I’m ready and willing to open it back up once those kids do what is right, and come take responsibility.
There is a conscience inside of these kids, even if it’s abused regularly. They ran off into the forest each time because they know what they did was wrong. They are professional liars too, so convincing. I have been extra kind to two of the kids I know were involved. I’ve had a heart to pray for them, and show them love. I’ve rewarded them just last week for helping me find some missing items (which they probably hid), took them for ice cream. I think this event could be a life changing one, because they are used to yelling and physical intimidation from adults. I’ve never raised my voice, and always asked for respect for property and our instructions. They will be banned from the trampoline for a season when they do confess, but ultimately I want to show grace and see Christ continue to work on their wicked little hearts.
Pray for these two boys (and whoever else in involved), that they would see God the father in me, that I would represent justice and mercy, give them a picture of responsibility but also forgiveness. I’m not able to change their hearts, but God can and I think wants to win some of these more troublesome characters for His glory. I keep looking at these little guys and seeing godly husbands and fathers some day. I think these little experiences will help work on their hearts and through prayer bring them closer to a real relationship with God.
In the meantime everyone is paying the price for their folly, and it’s a shame because most of the kids are truly respectful and are great to have around. I’m going to give it a few more days, the weather is hopefully cooling down and the boredom is sure to increase… even the boys who did it will be itching to get jumping again and swallow their pride… I hope!
Our kids have enjoyed playing in their yard by themselves, it’s been months since our yard has been a sanctuary.. at least for us. I’m ready to open the trampoline up though, because I think for a large number of the kids, our yard is a sanctuary for them as well from difficult situations at home.