The Kids Are Alright

There’s a lot of feral children in my apartment complex. I don’t really see them much now that the weather has started getting cooler, but in the summer, packs of them roam the lawns and parking lots till well after sundown.

I worry about our youths. Many of these children don’t seem to have any sense of “stranger danger.” I haven’t lectured any of them yet, but there were a couple times this summer I came close. The closest was when a young girl on a bicycle stopped near the picnic table I was reading at and introduced herself by telling me her full name, apartment number, and where her mom was (spoiler alert: it wasn’t with her) before asking what my book was about.

I drive very carefully through the complex in the summer because said packs of children run amuck wherever they feel. I’ve also come close to complaining to management about the children running in the roadways, especially since there’s one particular blind-curve situation said packs seem to always congregate.

Because the feral children are mostly seasonal, I haven’t been as diligent in taking that curve very carefully, and thus, ruined some child’s Christmas two days ago.

I came around the curve and ended up slamming the brakes because two small children, a boy, and a girl, were standing directly in my path. I idled with my foot on the brake as they blankly stared at me for a moment before sauntering out of the way. What didn’t make it out of the way was one of their toy remote control cars that I didn’t see until I heard the audible crunch of tire on plastic once I’d started driving again.

I put the car into park, and although a part of me really wanted to get out and lecture the children about playing in the road, a bigger part of me felt awful. These kids couldn’t have been older than 5 or 6. Maybe I’m painting with a broad brush, but I’m assuming they really didn’t know any better. I got out of the car and started walking towards the kids. I was planning on apologizing and even forking over some of the Christmas cash weighing down my wallet for a new car, but when they saw me walking towards them, these kids bolted as if I’d exited a white van. Ya know? Smart move. I’m a stranger who ran over their Christmas toy. I shouldn’t be trusted. I smiled to myself and thought, maybe these feral kids will do ok after all.

Yesterday as I was sitting at a stoplight driving home from work, I witnessed a grown man in a blue tracksuit wearing a wizard’s hat in a competing shade of blue perform some yoga-esque routine for his tripod-mounted smartphone in the parking lot of a Wendy’s.

It’s not the kids we have to worry about.

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