Smart Kids Do Stupid Things

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I will be the first to testify and, despite my obvious bias, I still believe that I am completely accurate when I say that my parents are the best that any kid has or will ever have. My mother, though, regardless of her efforts, repeatedly made a fatal error my upbringing; she never learned that, despite her trust in me, any adolescent boy left idle and unsupervised for any length of time will eventually turn to no good. Such was the case on a particular August afternoon.

August, for any grade-schooler, is without a doubt the most despicable of months. Even

May, when pre-adolescents are being driven mad by the promise of summer lying so close but unattainable before them cannot compare to the sultry anticlimax of August. Indignant with both the boredom of the summer’s general inactivity and the prospect of having to go back to school, most boys seem to focus the bulk of their energies, subconsciously or with purpose, into getting in trouble. I was no different.

It was a miserably hot day, two weeks before the start of the seventh grade. Having been

literally forced out of the house by my mother (who was, no doubt, a little weary of the constant company of her sons), my neighbor Mike Jones and I were restlessly loitering about the back yard. Now mom considered Mike a class A bad influence on her me (she told me so often and with fervor), but despite her disapproval, half-hearted though it was, I made it a point to spend nearly every day with him. No doubt, we were growing a little weary of each others’ company as well.

The day had been spent frivolously; endeavoring to keep cool in the stifling Midwestern

humidity, we mostly stuck to squirting each other with water guns and hoses. It was close to three o’clock in ...

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... to me!” she called after. I bumped headlong into Mike as

I was entering my room. I grabbed him by the collar and without a word dragged him bodily back into the kitchen. As I entered, my heart skipped a beat. Mike screamed.

The pickup was sitting in the driveway.

“Okay,” I stammered, “we were playing with the water balloon slingshot and decided to

shoot a few over the highway.” My mom narrowed her eyes. “We didn’t mean to hit that guy.”

She sighed. “I’ll go talk to them.”

Mike was so scared after the whole thing that he forced me to walk him home, afraid that the pickup would be lying in wait at his house, ready to extract revenge. I considered myself lucky that I wasn’t literally killed by my parents afterward. Today, its a story on which my mom and I can look back and laugh, a reminder that even the best kids of the best parents do stupid things.

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