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When Life Imitates Art, Part II

alec vanderboom

Turns out Miss Chili Pepper isn't even the hardest thing my life. While my husband was still at home on paternity leave our neighbors called the police on Maria, my four year old daughter, for riding her trike in the street by their house. The side walk ends 10 feet from the corner on our block, so it's a problem. Yet we live on a quiet street with little traffic in West Virginia, so its not like our Maria faces an "instant risk of death" due to her negligence.

My solution was to call my kid out of the street, make her do three push-ups as punishment, and then demonstrate how she's supposed to pull her trike safely across the grass.

Our neighbor didn't come out of her house to tell us directly that she disagreed with my parenting approach. Instead, she called the local police to complain about Maria--for a third time!

 After the third call, a policeman came to my house and asked to interview "the girl with the curly hair and the jean skirt". He gave Maria a bicycle safety lecture. Then the officer kindly admitted to my husband that this whole exercise was fruitless because "four year olds don't listen to anything!"

I tried to talk to the neighbors directly after this incident but they wouldn't answer the door bell. So now they just scowl every time they drive by our house. Meanwhile, I lock all the doors before I take an afternoon nap and try to keep better count of all five of my children. (I also mentally sing Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" every time Maria asks to ride her tricycle.)

Long story short, when there was a loud knock on the front door at 11 AM on Saturday morning, Jon and I woke up with a start from napping after a hard night. We were sleeping in our crowded bedroom with Baby Abigail and Miss Tess. "Where's Maria?" we both asked. "She's still upstairs, right?" "I'll go deal with it," Jon said, grimly expecting to open the front door to either irate neighbors or the police.