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- Dear Editor,
I see much, living, as I do, near the Siesta Key Chapel, often used by (I suspect) non-residents as a parking spot for extended days visiting our beautiful island.
So I was watching, today, as a family of four - a pair of parents and their sons, or perhaps a son and his friend - as well as another adult couple, parked at the Chapel and unloading their six bicycles for a day of enjoyment on the Key. I smiled to think of this family, having fun, together, and relaxing in our beautiful ocean breezes and sunshine. It was lovely to see.
And, too, I watched, a few hours later, as they returned, and reloaded their bicycles onto the car racks. I watched as the adults stood and chatted and laughed, and the two boys tried hard, with plastic water bottles, bored with the adults' patter, to dislodge some unseen prize from one of the palm trees in the Chapel lot, tossing the bottles again and again into the air in an effort to knock the prize out of the heights. The adults were now and then distracted from their chat, sometimes coaching the boys in the best strategy with their bottles, apparently unaware, I thought, that a wrapper had come off of one of the bottles and landed in the grass.
I watched, as two of the adults got into their vehicle, bid their adieus, and headed down Reed Street, away from the island, and as the remaining two adults gave a few extra tips to the boys in their water-bottle tossing, to try to win, unsuccessfully, the thing in the tree.
I watched, as one of the boys gave his bottle one final unsuccessful toss. Watched it land a few yards away in the Chapel parking lot. Watched as the boys piled then into the car along with the remaining two adults. Watched as the foursome prepared to drive away, leaving their litter behind for those of us who live here to pick up.
I could watch no more.
I left my house, and walked hurriedly to the car as it prepared for departure, backed from their parking spot, began to move forward down Reed Street.
I scooped up the water bottle label left behind, as I walked toward the driver's window of that car, the label in my hand, held out toward the driver's view.
He stopped. Rolled down the window. I showed him the plastic label. He only said, "Oh."
"Your son," I said, " also threw one of the bottles into the parking lot, and left it lying."
"I'm sorry," said the driver. He took the label. "Thank you," I said. His window went up. I stood my ground.
The rear door of the car opened, and one of the two boys stepped out. He walked over to where the bottle lie. He said nothing to me, and he did not have to look for the bottle. He knew where he had thrown it, walked directly to it, picked it up, and returned to the car.
"Thank you," I said. He got into the car, without acknowledging me, and the car slowly pulled away.
H. Jackson Brown Jr. once said, "Our character is what we do when no one is looking."
I am sad to see, with increasing frequency, parents who have failed to teach that to their children.