When Mark was 5 years old, like most children, he had a bicycle. We lived on a street with very little traffic, and a city park was a scant 2 blocks away, so there were plenty of places to ride.
One day I noticed that Mark had come home, but the bike had not.
When I asked where the bike was, he said, “Bobby’s got it.”
I knew Bobby because occasionally he would ring the doorbell and want Mark to come out and play. He was older, maybe by two years, and he was bigger. He wasn’t one of the usual neighborhood kids.
“Go tell Bobby you need your bike,” I said.
“I told him, and he said he wasn’t going to give it back.”
“Do you know where the bike is?” I asked, getting a little annoyed.
“He said he put it in a ditch.”
“Did you tell him your mother was going to be mad if you came home without your bike?” Now I was getting irritated.
“Yeah, but he said he didn’t care. He said he was keeping the bike, and there wasn’t anything I could do because it was his word against mine.”
Okay, now I was really ticked off. How dare this kid, who was older and bigger, take advantage of my child? Immediately, my mind started cooking up some good punishments for Bobby.
But then a better idea came to me.
“The next time Bobby is around here, let me know,” I said to Mark.
I really didn’t know if Bobby would have the nerve to show up to play with Mark like he usually did. I mean, the boy had stolen from Mark and then bragged about it. Anyone would stay away in case the parents got nosy about that bike.
Anyone except Bobby. I said he had nerve, I didn’t say he was smart.
I heard him talking to Mark, and I went outside.
“Hi, Bobby,” I said, smiling at him. He immediately looked nervous and stammered out a “Hi.”
“I wonder if you could help me with something. Mark can’t find his bike, and we think someone has taken it. You know, stolen it,” I said, really laying it on.
His eyes widened and his mouth hung open.
“It’s a shame, too,” I said. “If it doesn’t turn up in the next few days, we’ll have to call the police…”
Bobby’s face turned red and then white (must be an Alabama fan).
“.. and if the police get involved, well, I wouldn’t want to be the thief who stole it. No, I feel sorry for that guy. Because the police will charge him with theft, and he’ll have to stand in front of a judge and explain why he stole a little boy’s bike.”
Now his face turned kind of orange and then a shade on the blue side (I was wrong – Auburn fan).
“I’ve heard that if it’s a kid that steals, he gets sent to some kind of juvenile place down around Birmingham (100 miles away). It seems a shame they can’t at least keep them here while they sit in jail.”
Bobby looked as if he would faint.
“But if the bike was found by someone and brought back by someone, we wouldn’t have to call the police at all.”
Bobby nodded vigorously.
“Mark could ride his bike anywhere he wanted to, and no one would bother him again. Because I know that after today, you’ll stand up for Mark because he’s younger than you are.”
More vigorous nodding.
“Well, Bobby,” I said, feeling the poor kid had had enough, “I know you’ll be on the lookout for that bike. I really don’t want to have to call the police, but Mark’s dad said he would in a couple of days.”
I went back in the house.
The next day, the doorbell rang, and guess who! Bobby!
“Look, Mrs. Weeks, look what I found! It’s Mark’s bike!” he said, breathlessly. “Now you won’t have to call the police!”
“Oh, this is wonderful, Bobby!” I exclaimed. “I just knew you were going to be able to help us with this. Mark is so happy to have his bike back!”
Bobby nodded so enthusiastically, his head looked as if it would fly off.
“And don’t worry,” he said, jumping up and down in his euphoria, “I won’t let anybody bug Mark.”
“Or take his things?” I asked just for emphasis.
“Won’t nobody take anything that’s his,” he said, sticking his chest out. “I’ll beat ‘em up if they try!”
“Thanks, Bobby!” I said. “You’re a true friend.”
I wasn’t worried that he would actually beat somebody up.
And even if he did, it would just be his word against mine..
|Mark 5, My Dad, Alice 14 mos.|
Beg as loud as you can for good common sense.