Explaining Vandalism to Kids

Parenting Blog - VandalismThe kids and I walked under the bridge, the noise of the cars zipping home from work a counter point to the silence of the hike awaiting us. I adjusted my backpack and shifted the water bottles as the kids ran ahead to check the map at the trail head. The stopped so abruptly it would have been funny if the looks on their faces hadn’t been so upset.

“Mama!” Joseph exclaimed, pointing to the wood shingled awning covered kiosk. “Who would do something like that?”

I looked ahead and sighed. Bright purple spray paint marred the smooth surface of the botanical notes of interest.

“I’m not sure, hon.”

“It wasn’t there on Sunday.”


“Do you think the police caught whoever did it?”

“I don’t think so.”

Elizabeth’s lower lip jutted. “They ruined our map!”

“No!” I rushed to stem the tide of tears. “The map is still there. They just covered the pictures of the flowers and plants.”

We walked to the kiosk where I pointed out the map and showed them our hike was still going to go as planned. Less than five minutes later, it was evident the purple painter had decided to “decorate” the log benches dotting the trail. At our favorite, the one under the tree with a broken red star Mardi Gras necklace tangled high in the branches, the paint job was more severe.

Joseph started to sound out the words, “Ffffff…” he started.

“No! It’s a bad word, baby.”

“Do you think teenagers did it?” Joseph asked solemnly.

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“I’ll never do stuff like this when I’m a teenager,” he declared. “I’ll remember that it’s not nice to ruin something that is everybody’s.”

Elizabeth nodded in agreement while we tried to figure out a way to remove the paint. In the end, we decided to call the parks department.

And hope it doesn’t happen again.