Tag Archives: kids



While the boys were obsessing over pocket knives, Little Sister was trying to pick out a souvenir of her own.

Pinecone earrings and bracelets sold in the mercantile.

To her credit, Bun Mom walked around the store with the girl and made suggestions. How about this cute pinecone necklace? How about the pinecone earrings or bracelet?

The girl picked up a $35 bobcat hand puppet. How about this? she asked her mother.

Bun Mom reminded Little Sister how they’d already discussed this souvenir shopping trip and how she’d explained each kid could pick out something small. The bobcat puppet, Bun Mom told Little Sister was not in her budget.

How about these dragonfly earrings? Bun Mom asked Little Sister. At $10.95, they were in the budget, and Little Sister could get her birthstone.

The mercantile sells these dragonfly earrings.

Little Sister spent a long time looking at the dragonfly earrings and the other items on the jewelry carousel, but did not reach a decision.

At one point, the girl was picking up and putting down and picking up again bear and bobcat bobble heads. These are only $6! These are only $6! she exclaimed over the $5.95 items.

You could get one of those, her mother told her, but the girl still hadn’t decided.

As the other family completed their transaction, Bun Mom told Little Sister to make her decision because she was about to pay. Little Sister ran around the store growing increasingly distressed.

I rang up Bun Mom’s t-shirt and Brother’s whistle and the Christmas tree ornament Little Sister had helped pick out for the family tree.

Anything else? I asked Bun Mom.

I’m paying, she called out to her daughter. Pick something.

By this point Little Sister was howling and whining and crying and stomping her feet. She didn’t seem to want something her mother said she couldn’t have. Her frustration seemed to be coming from not being able to make a decision.

She ran out onto the porch and her mother said she’d choose something for her.

I’m getting the pinecone bracelet, Bun Mom told her through the thin walls of the yurt.

No!  Little Sister howled. Not that, she wailed. Anything but that!

She came back into the store, and ended up picking out a pinecone necklace. I don’t know why she liked the pinecone on the necklace but hated it on the bracelet.

She continued to cry and ran back out onto the porch.

Bun Mom told me the girl had trouble making decisions and was overwhelmed by all the choices in the store. I would call “overwhelmed” an understatement. I think the girl was having a full blown meltdown.

We closed the store soon after Little Sister and her family and friends left.

The Man went outside to close the yurt’s window. When he came back in, he said, That little girl is still crying. He’d seen her run up to the store, look at the sign saying “Sorry, we’re closed,” and take off running while sobbing. She had probably wanted to exchange her pinecone necklace for something she’d decided was better.

I don’t think she’s enjoying her human experience, The Man said, and I had to agree with him there.

I took the photos in this post.



The two women and four kids came in ten minutes before the mercantile closed.

The women looked so young to me, although they were probably in their early 30s and were obviously the mothers of the children.

The first woman who came in had her hair pulled back into a tight bun. She wore those hiking tights so popular with athletic (and not so athletic) women these days. Her scoop-neck t-shirt dipped just enough in the back to show the tattoo of a lotus at the base of her neck. Her son was maybe nine, her daughter around six.

The second woman had loose dark hair and glasses with square black frames. Her shorts were quite short, and she wore white almost-to-her-knee socks with her boots. She had a sarong or a large scarf or an East Indian tapestry draped over her shoulders with a side hanging over each breast. At first I thought she was topless under the sarong/scarf/tapestry, but when she turned, I saw her black bikini top. She had two boys with her, one about five, the other probably ten.

They were on a souvenir buying expedition. The children were turned loose in the store while the women looked at magnets and t-shirts and Christmas tree ornaments.

I have twenty bucks! the littlest boy exclaimed, to which the boy who wasn’t his brother said, Who cares? (It soon became apparent to me that this boy had just about had it with the younger kid.)

The little boy’s mom said, That’s not cool to the older boy, but the grin on her face told me she thought it was all pretty funny.

It turned out that while the little boy was clutching a $20 bill, he had to share it with his brother. Each of the four kids had a $10 souvenir budget.

They circled the store eliminating possibilities. The walking sticks were too expensive. The t-shirts weren’t enticing (and probably too expensive anyway), and none of the kids were interested in stuffed animals.

The mercantile sells these wooden whistles carved to look like forest animals.

The boy who didn’t care about the little kid’s twenty bucks was the first to find his souvenir: a wooden whistle carved to look like a bear. He tried to get the other kids interested in the whistles too, but he was the only taker.

(How do you know it’s a whistle? his little sister asked.

Let her blow it, his mom said.

No! said the boy with concern on his face. She can’t blow it! We haven’t paid for it!)

The older of the brothers tried to convince the little one to pool their money and buy something they could share. He showed the little boy a breakable “I Love California” bank, and the little boy about had a fit. He screamed his negative feeling about the bank until—finally—his mother told him to chill out. I was beginning to think the little boy controlled the whole family.

Then the older of the two brothers saw the pocket knives.

We keep the pocket knives in the glass display case. People can’t touch them unless a worker hands them over.

How much are the pocket knives? the bigger boy asked.

I told him they were $6.95 plus tax.

Can I see one? he asked.

I didn’t really want to hand one over to the kid and have to take responsibility for whatever might happen, so I said, We’ll have to see if it’s ok with your grown up. The boy rolled his eyes behind his Buddy Holly glasses.

Bikini Mom was across the store. Grown up? I called to her. Oh, grownup?

She looked at me, blinking, as if I were an intruder in her secret dream world.

Can he look at a pocket knife? I asked her.

She said he could. She didn’t even walk over to supervise.

The mercantile sells these “razor sharp” pocket knives. We keep them in the display case until someone asks about them.

I pulled out the cardboard knife display and set it on the counter. The boy grabbed a knife and examined it.  His little brother watched with great interest.

I’ll get this, the big boy declared.

I want one too! I want one too! the little brother hollered.

You have to get your parent’s permission, I told them. No way would I have given that angry little brother a knife. I’m not sure the big boy was really ready for one either.

The older boy rolled his eyes at me again. Can I get a pocket knife? he called out to his mother.

I want one too! I want one too! the little brother hollered some more.

Bikini Mom said sure, they could get knives. She hadn’t even come over to take a look.

I turned to her and said, You know the box says they’re razor sharp, right? Of course, she didn’t know anything about the knives because she hadn’t come close enough to gather any information. However at the words “razor sharp,” she did walk over.

The little brother was still hollering, I want one too! I want one too!

The boy from the other family was very interested in the knives. He also wanted one. Bun Mom told him he was NOT getting a knife. He said he’d had a knife before…And it broke! his mother said, and you’re not getting one! Her tone of voice left no room for argument, and the kid dropped the subject.

Meanwhile, Bikini Mom and her oldest boy examined the knife. They couldn’t figure out how to close it. I showed them. Both moms started talking about safety and being very careful and this is not a toy. The little bother kept hollering about how he wanted one too, and I thought the big boy might roll his eyes right out of his head.

Bun Mom told her friend this knife thing might not be a good idea. Maybe she should consult with the boys’ father, Bun Mom said.

Emboldened by her friend’s caution, Bikini Mom told her boys they could not have knives. I was relieved and put the knives back in the display case.

The older boy followed his mother around the store, hassling her.

She must have said she didn’t want the little boy to have a knife, because I heard the big boy say, Then just tell him no! I could tell he was completely exasperated. I suspect the little boy was hardly ever told no.

The big boy finally wore his mother down, and she told him to go ask his father. Presumably, the father was on a campsite nearby because the boy wasn’t gone three minutes.

He said yes, the boy told his mom.

Even for your little brother? Bikini Mom asked.

Yep, the boy said. I wondered if he’d used the words “razor sharp” when he described the knives to his father.

The boys used their $20 to each get a knife, plus a box of candy and a pack of cheap plastic finger lights. The big boy immediately opened his knife.

How do you close this again? Bikini Mom asked.

I told her The Man would show her, and he did, but neither the mother nor son could do it.

If he can’t even close the knife, he shouldn’t have it, The Man whispered to me.

Can I carve with this? the older boy asked.

Absolutely NOT!  The Man told him. He told the boy the knife wasn’t made for carving. It would be dangerous to carve with that knife, he said. The Man tried to scare some sense into the moms by telling them about times he’s sliced into his own hand while carving and how now he wears a special protective glove.

You can only use this when you’re with your father, Bikini Mom told her boys.

Someone’s going to bleed tonight, I whispered to The Man.

He just shook his head and told me quietly that no one under 13 should have a knife.

I took the photos in this post.
This post contains a sponsored link.

Get a Job


Children in the parking lot love to sit in my chair.

If it were only kids coming off the trail who wanted to sit in my chair, I’d speculate they were tired and/or their legs hurt. However, kids who are just getting out of cars also want to plop their butts in my chair. Is the novelty of a seat they’ve never sat in more than they can resist? Are kids these days simply so lazy they can’t stand for five minutes?

If there is a crowd at the front of the parking lot and I have to be a few steps from my chair, I’ve learned to keep an eye on it. If I look away from it for too long, I’m bound to find some child relaxing in it when I look back.

One Saturday morning, an extended family arrived in the parking lot in six vehicles. When everyone finally tumbled out of the minivans and SUVs, there must have been twenty little kids milling about. Haven’t these people heard of birth control? I muttered to my co-worker. I had to stand for some reason, them step away from my chair. Sure enough, when I looked back, some tween was relaxing in my seat.

I walked up to the kid and said, Excuse me. That’s not your chair.

The kid looked at me like What? Isn’t every chair my chair? (I hate people with a sense of entitlement, especially when those people are too young to be entitled to much.) But he moved his ass.

I went on with whatever I had been doing. When I glanced back, a different kid from the same family was in my chair!

I walked over and said (loudly), Excuse me! That’s not your chair!

Again, the child moved, but didn’t exhibit one bit of embarrassment or remorse. Apparently, every empty chair is for a kid to sit in.

In no instance when a child has plopped down in my chair has an adult responsible for the kid said, What are you doing? or Don’t sit in the lady’s chair. or That chair doesn’t belong to you. or We don’t sit in chairs that don’t belong to us. Nothing. I’m convinced the majority of parents and adult guardians will allow the children in their care to do anything if it garners them a moment’s peace.

One morning as I walked across the roadway to pick up a piece of trash, a young woman approached my co-worker to pay her parking fee. A little boy (about eight years old) was with her. The kid was running around, and the young woman (his mother? his sister? his babysitter?) was paying absolutely no attention to him.

I saw the kid eyeing my chair, so I hustled over and sat my butt down in it.

As I sat, I heard the boy say, something, something, chair!

This is my chair, I said,

The boy said, I would like to have a chair like that.

You better get a job, I told him. (Oh, how my co-worker burst out laughing when I recounted this part of the story.)

The kid physically recoiled from me. Who could blame him? I don’t want a job either. But to get a nice chair like mine, he’s going to need money, and to get money, he’s going to need a job. (Of course, I got my chair from a free pile, but I wasn’t going to give the kid that information and get his hopes up. To read about the free pile where I got my chair, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/01/25/the-free-pile-at-the-rtr/.)

I took this photo of the chair kids love to sit in.

I took this photo of the chair kids love to sit in.



Sometimes a whole family is a mess.

It was the first Saturday in August, and the parking lot was a bit slower than it had been throughout July. Sure, the lot was crowded, and we were busy, but the sense of chaos wasn’t quite so intense.

My interaction with the family started with the grandmother, who wanted to park with the other two vehicles in her party. She tried to park beside some trees (instead of nose-in, between trees, like most people park), but that didn’t quite work out, even with a young man standing behind her car, waving his arms and giving directions. Grandma gave up on this potential parking place rather quickly and drove off deeper into the parking lot to find an easier spot.

My next interaction with the family came when Dad (the young man who’d tried to direct Grandma in parking) approached me and asked about the location of the water slides. I pulled out a map, pointed to we are here, then pointed to the waterslides are there. The man exhibited no glimmer or recognition. Nothing. The lights were on, and yet, nobody seemed to be home.

Can we get there from here? Dad asked me.

Why yes! I wanted to say. This is a map. What a map does is show how to get there from here. Instead I pointed out the two roads he could take.

Dad walked away, skeptical, until his brother-in-law said he had directions.

Then Grandma joined the rest of the family in my vicinity.

I left my purse in the tent, she announced. I have to go back. I’m worried. I left my purse in the tent.

Her daughter thought she had left her purse in the car, until Grandma made her understand by saying, I left my purse in the tent at the campground.

Something in the word campground made the daughter’s brain click that tent and car are two different places, and the old lady’s purse was not a short walk away.

Grandma was insistent that she had to go back to the campground because she was worried about her purse in the tent. Her daughter said they were going to walk the trail before they went back to the campground, which didn’t seem to be nearby.

By this point, most of the members of the extended family that had arrived in three vehicles were clustered near where my co-worker and I stand at the front of the parking lot. Grandma was joined by her two daughters and at least ten children ranging in age from 3 to 14. I don’t know why they were all standing there—probably waiting for folks to return from the restroom, get water out of the cooler, or otherwise get their shit together.

The two smallest children were milling about fully in the parking lot’s roadway.

You probably want to get out of the street, folks, I said to the crowd. People drive into this parking lot fast sometimes. (Which is true.)

The first small child moved closer to the other children, but the littlest girl remained where she was.

Lyla, come here, one of the adult sisters said to the girl standing in the roadway.

Lyla turned her head away from the woman and ignored her command.

Lyla, come here now, the woman said again sternly.

Lyla had apparently lost the ability to hear, for she took no heed of the woman’s words and didn’t move a muscle.

Dee-lye-la! the woman shouted. Get over here NOW! This is a street!

A miracle! Lyla could hear again. She languidly turned her head toward the woman with a look of Oh? Are you talking to me? on her tiny face. Then she slowly left the middle of the roadway and joined the clot of kinfolk.

About that time, I looked to my left and over my shoulder and saw Junior, approximately age nine, sprawled in the middle of the roadway, messing around with his shoes. He’d managed to remove his red flip flops and put on his white socks. He hadn’t yet put on his sneakers. He was just sitting on the pavement, shoes strewn around him.

I should have just let him sit there, slowly figure out what shoes are for, how they relate to feet, how to go about the next steps in his task, but I imagined disaster and jumped up.

Sweetheart, I said, you don’t want to sit in the middle of the road to do that.

The grandma and the two adult sisters sprang into verbal action. That’s a street! they admonished the boy.

Junior shuffled around in his stocking feet, holding his sneakers and his flip flops, looking for a place to sit to put on his shoes. Apparently standing while putting on shoes was beyond his capabilities. None of the women could come up with a place for him to sit until Grandma honed in on my chair, which I had abandoned when I jumped up in astonishment at seeing an unsupervised little boy sitting in the middle of a place where drivers pull in too fast, where drivers often claim not to see me (and I’m a not insubstantial adult standing and waving my arm).

I should have let the kid sit in the road and go about his oh-so-slow business of putting on his sneakers. Maybe one of his parents would have noticed him and had him move. If a car had come in, I could have jumped to the rescue. But I’d had to open my big mouth and get involved, and worse, move my butt from my chair. Now Grandma was asking if the boy could possibly, just maybe, only for a moment sit in my chair while he put on his shoes.

I said yes. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t have an alternative to suggest, and I knew this family was not going anywhere until Junior had his shoes on.

So Junior sat in my chair and slow-as-getting-out-of-a-warm-bed-on-a-cold-Monday-morning, he put on his sneakers. His mother never told him to hurry up or bent down to humiliated him into getting his ass into gear by “helping” him. Everybody just stood there and waited.

I looked over and saw a second tiny girl. This one had her foot propped up on my chair. I realized she had her foot on my chair’s attached folding table, the table who’s top I’d collaged. She had her foot up on the folded down table, rocking it back and forth on its hinge. If any of the adults had noticed her activity, no one had told her to cease and desist.

This was all I could take. I rushed over to that side of the chair and said, Sweetheart! (in a tone of voice that really meant, Hey you snot nose brat!)

Don’t put your foot on my chair! You’re going to get it dirty!

To her credit, the child immediately removed her foot from my collaged surface. She actually looked repentant. (I probably looked like a rabid ape lady.)

This photo I took shows the collaged surface of the folding table the girl child had her foot on.

This photo I took shows the collaged surface of the folding table the girl child had her foot on.

Her mother directed the child to Say you’re sorry!

The girl child looked up at me with big cow eyes and whispered, I’m sorry; I almost felt bad.

I couldn’t take one moment more of this genetic pool, so I hid behind the information board until they all went away.




Say what you will, but I’m pretty sure I manifested those people.

Exhibit  A: I’d been reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test for about a week. I guess you could say I’d been savoring it. Oh man–Merry Pranksters and LSD! Just a day or so before, I’d gotten to the part where the Grateful Dead became the house band at the Acid Tests.

Exhibit B: Just the day before, I pulled out the hemp and began making necklaces between collecting parking fees.  [amazon template=image&asin=B001689Y8Y] I started with whimsical mushroom pendants sent to me by a friend. The necklace-making went so well (three necklaces made in a four hour shift), I figured I could do it the three slow days of my parking lot work week. I was working on a hemp necklace when the people pulled into the parking lot.

It makes perfect sensed to me: focus on Merry Pranksters + LSD + Grateful Dead, throw in the repetitive, meditative motion of making square knots from hemp, and Deadheads are bound to appear.

The people arrived in a puff of sage smoke, with maybe a bit of marijuana in the mix.

The car was banged up, a real beater, and was hauling a battered pop-up camper. I didn’t know who the people were at first. I thought maybe they’d mistaken the parking lot for a campground (as happens fairly often). I thought maybe they were just tourists in a scruffy car, regular people who wanted to see some trees.

When the car stopped next to me, the driver had to open his door to hear my rap. (My van’s driver-side window doesn’t go down, so I’m never surprised when I see other people in the same situation.)

Are y’all here for the trees? I asked, and the driver said yes.

There’s a $5 parking fee, I said.

At that point I looked into the car and began to see.

I noticed the driver first. He had a black mark on his forehead, above his nose. He looked like a Catholic on Ash Wednesday, but having been raised Catholic, I know Ash Wednesday doesn’t come in late July.

Then I noticed the child in the backseat. She was probably three and tiny and dirty and her hair was in ratty dreads that meant her mamma had quit fighting her about brushing it. Only hardcore modern hippies have kids with hair like that.

Next I glanced at the dashboard where a lot of papers were piled up. Peeking out from the pile–upside down– I was pretty sure that was Jerry Garcia on that poster.

WAIT! These weren’t tourists. These were maybe–possibly–oh, I hope!

These were the kids!

Is that a Grateful Dead poster on the dash? I asked.

The driver said it was.

I said, There’s no parking fee!

Kids don’t charge kids, man, and these were the kids, and I’m a kid too, under this brown polyester uniform, in my heart.

The driver asked the adult in the backseat (a man younger than I am, but probably the oldest of the bunch), Do you have…something…mumble…mumble…something?

I thought they were fishing around for five bucks, but instead of money, they produced a cardboard sign featuring the words I need a miracle and an awesome drawing of a skeleton.

Hell yeah! I miracled those kids right into that parking lot!

They’d been at a Dead & Company show the night before (or maybe the night before that), and they were heading to a Dead & Company show that night (or maybe the next) but I just had to take a detour and see some trees, the driver told me.

While they parked, I got some granola bars together for them. (Being on tour is hungry work.) The granola bars were met with enthusiasm by the two men, the tiny child, and the fourth person in the party, a young woman resplendent in bold face paint and a fuzzy tail swinging from the seat of her shorts.

They weren’t gone as long as I thought they might be.

When they returned to the parking lot, I asked them how they’d liked the trees.

There were many expressions of approval and thanks.

We’d stay longer, the driver told me, but we have a date with Bobby. (That’s  Bob  Weir of the Grateful Dead, Furthur, and now Dead & Company for folks not in the know.)

I wish I could go with you! I said.

Come on, the woman said immediately. Quit your job! Come with us!

It was the perfect answer, just what I wanted and needed her to say. I’d been dreaming of running away with them from the moment I realized who they were. The last week had been hard with the heat and the bugs and the idiots, and I’d really been wanting to leave.

Turns out just being invited to go with them was enough.

I didn’t go with them, not because I didn’t want to, but because that’s not the path I’m on at the moment. Also, the last time I cast my lot with Deadheads I didn’t even know–well, let’s just say the trip was longer and stranger than I’d ever imagined it could be, from the snow of Colorado to my Southwest Louisiana homeland. Getting out of that one mostly unscathed has made me less likely to run off with strangers.

In any case, when I said I couldn’t (wouldn’t, shouldn’t) go, the older (but still much younger than I) guy stopped and looked at me, told me he appreciated what I was doing keeping it locked down for these trees. That made me feel good too, even though I’m mostly just a parking lot attendant. But yeah, I’m here for the trees, and I’m here to recognize the kids who need a miracle every damn day. (I need those miracles too, and that day, those kids were my miracle.)

The crew headed back to the car, but a few minutes later, I heard a voice say, This is for you.

The woman had returned, and while she didn’t hand me the party favor I’d been trying to manifest, (but I understand, it’s not safe to hand sacraments like that to strangers in polyester-blend pants), I was very pleased with the bundle of California white sage she presented to me.

The car left as it arrived, in a puff of sage smoke, camper trailer in tow. On the back of the trailer was a heart, inscribed inside with the words Not Fade Away, as in a love that’s real not fade away.

Don’t even try to tell me I didn’t draw those people right to me. [amazon template=image&asin=B000E1ZBFO]

I Didn’t Like It


The rush of midday in the parking lot had mellowed out into a slow afternoon. I was sitting in my chair, reading, when I heard a little voice to my right say, Excuse me.

I looked over. A boy child about six years old was standing there. I said, Yes? or maybe just looked at him expectantly. He made some word sounds that my ears heard as gibberish.

His mother-type person was walking far to my left. She understood what the boy child said, or thought she did.

What did you just say? the large woman in capri pants and tank top bellowed. Get over here right now!

The boy child was at her side immediately, and I heard him say feebly, It was a joke.

I don’t think it was very funny! she told him.

By the way the woman reacted, I wondered if the cherubic tween had suggested I fuck my grandmother or said something something rude about my appearance.

You just saw some amazing things! the mother-type person told the boy child, then went on to call him something along the lines of ungrateful or unappreciative.

He tried to tell her again that he’d only been joking, but she told him she didn’t want to hear another word our of his mouth.

Whatever he’d said to me sure had made that woman angry.

Ten minutes later, a giant motor home stopped on the roadway leading to the exit. If there had been any traffic, the motor home would have blocked it. I recognized the driver from when he pulled in. I’d told him to park before he paid me because I didn’t know if he’d find a spot for the behemoth he was driving. I couldn’t remember if he’d paid me. Maybe he had stopped there in order to hand over the parking fee.

I walked over to the motor home and asked the driver if I’d collected the parking fee from him. He said I had. Then he said, since you’re here…mutter mutter mutter…He called someone from the back of the RV, and the boy child from earlier came to stand between the driver’s and passenger’s seats.

I could tell the boy child had been crying. His eyes were huge and watery and his face was streaked with tears. He stood very straight and said, I’m sorry for my behavior. (It was obviously a rehearsed speech.)

I said something like I really didn’t even understand what you said, but thank you for apologizing. The whole situation was super awkward for me.

The woman in the passenger seat was not the mother-type person. The woman in the passenger seat seemed like a grandmother-type person. After the boy child had escaped to the back of the motor home, I again expressed bewilderment over not having understood what the boy child had said to me. The grandmother-type person stage whispered We thought it was very rude. He said he didn’t like it.

What? All of that brouhaha because the kid said he didn’t like the trail?

If the kid didn’t like the trail, I think he’s entitled to express that. If I had understood him to say he didn’t like the trail, I probably would have said, Oh, I’m sorry to hear that or What didn’t you like about it? I would not have been personally offended that some kid barely old enough to scrawl his name did not enjoy a trail I did not build and do not maintain.

My job brings me in contact with a variety of rude people of all ages. People hold me responsible for what they see as the (many) failings of the Forest Service. Some people think they can talk to me any old way they want. Finally someone apologizes and it’s for something I din’t even understand, something I wouldn’t have been offended over even if I had understood it.

And, what if, as the boy child told the mother-type person, he was only joking? I hope this incident does not deter him from a career in comedy.

NeoTribal the Gathering: You Kids Get Off My Lawn


It was early in the morning; the air was still cool. Children were running around the festival, fed recently enough to have lots of energy, not yet sapped by the heat. I heard the sounds of their voices change as they ran through the Healing Garden.

Then the voices seemed to congregate in one place. I heard the door of a Porta Potty slam repeatedly, as well as what sounded like thumping on its walls. I walked to the front of my vending area and saw a group (five? six?) of kids standing in front of one of the portable toilets. There was more slamming of the door and general squealing of children.

I walked over calmly. The kids looked at me skeptically. I spoke in a low voice and said to them that the Porta Potty was not a place to play. I asked them if they could find another place to play.

They started talking over each other, trying to explain what had been going on. One boy said he hadn’t been playing, he’d been trying to use the restroom, and the other kids had been kicking the walls of the Porta-John while he was in there!

I again requested they find another place to play, and added, We’re all going to be sad if that porta potty gets tipped over.

Especially me if I’m in there, the boy added.

The kids wandered away, and I went back to my jewelry and my shiny rocks.