Teenagers are idiots. There. I am officially old enough that I said it. Language warning, by the way. I’m still rather pissed off about this one.
I took Noah to the park yesterday to practice playing catch with our brand new nearly-broken-in baseball mitts. About a month ago, I saw a dad and his kid out throwing the ball to each other, and I realized… holy smokes. My kid is almost ten years old and we don’t even own baseball gloves. One spontaneous splurge and a two-day-shipping-wait later, and we had our new gloves. We wrapped ’em with rubber bands and shoved ’em under a giant stack of heavy crap in his bedroom.
Yesterday was the second time we took the gloves out so that Noah could learn. The first time didn’t go too well as Noah got walloped smack dab in the bridge of his nose early on and went down for the tear-filled count.
Yesterday was attempt number two, and it went much better because I remembered something important. He’s supposed to always keep his glove up in the air. Oops, sorry kiddo. It’s been a few decades since I put on a glove or received any instruction of my own.
Anyway… Yesterday was going awesomely. I invented a little game where I would toss him the ball very close, then every time he caught it I would take a step back. The goal was always to set a new record, always getting further apart from each other. He was laughing. I was having a blast. Life was good. And then the idiot teenagers showed up.
Four teens, probably 13 or 14 years-old, all came rushing into the park.
A couple of young girls were playing over on the playground, probably six or seven-years old. Noah and I were over in the grassy flat area. The entire park was smaller than a square acre, very small as parks tend to go.
The teenagers were all wearing big protective black masks, and carrying big ass paintball rifles, which looked like automatic assault weapons.
Without any care for who they were putting in danger, they started sprinting, dodging, jumping, and ducking around the park, leaping in and out of the playground itself, and opening fire on each other with wild abandon. The two girls froze in terror, paintballs exploding against the slide and against the climbing wall just feet from their unprotected faces.
As I tried to absorb what was suddenly happening, and what the hell I was going to do about it, one of the teens ran by, a few feet from Noah, holding his gun in the air. He fired a shot at his little pal across the park. Noah burst into terrified tears, not knowing what the hell was going on, except that a bunch of masked guys were suddenly in the park with big guns, opening fire.
Beware the wrath of this dad. You don’t terrorize my kid and put his safety at risk, and you don’t do it to anyone else’s kids either.
Now, I realized in the moment that had these punk kids decided to all unleash on me at once, I could have been hurt pretty badly, having no face – or groin – protection. But when your kid, and other people’s kids, are at risk… You just don’t give a shit about that. You really don’t. It’s not noble or anything. It’s just parental instinct to give zero shakes to the wind what happens to you when those in your care are in danger.
I angrily approached two of the teenagers and demanded they stop shooting. They stopped dead in their tracks and looked at me like deer in the headlights. The other two caught sight of me and stopped as well. “All of you get the fuck over here,” I barked. They knew I wasn’t messing around, and amazingly they obeyed.
Now, I tend to be a very calm and peaceful man, but I am also a big ass 6’4″ muscularly framed and bearded man. If you’re a scrawny little teenager, I bet the version of me who is ready to rip your head off is more than just a little scary.