Once, when I and my siblings were young, we were visiting another child down the street. And, while talking to her in her yard, some other kids from the house next door picked up some dirt clods and pelted us with them.
Unfortunately, while clobbering us, they also dirtied the laundry hanging on a neighbor’s clothesline.
Well, it wasn’t too long before my mother found out about the incident and that we had been involved. She insisted we go apologize to this neighbor for ruining his laundry. Not only that, but we were to take what meager allowances we had and pay for re-washing the clothes.
Our pleas that we had done nothing wrong—had just been standing there talking—fell on deaf ears. Mom insisted we must have done something to incite those other kids, because, of course, kids wouldn’t throw dirt at us for no reason.
Even though they had.
I remember taking what few coins I had and walking down to this neighbor’s house to apologize. While standing on the porch and ringing the doorbell, I wondered what on earth I was going to say. Something like “Sorry some kids threw dirt at me and soiled your laundry”?
Fortunately for us, when the man in question answered his door, it soon became clear that he had heard the whole story and knew we were not to blame. He refused to accept our money.
I admit I was pretty ticked at my mom. Nobody should have to apologize for being a victim. And especially nobody should have to pay for being one. That’s being victimized twice.
What’s even more sad is that this neighbor believed us when our own mother didn’t.
I don’t know if those other kids ever got in trouble for what they had done. Somehow, I have my doubts that children like those were well disciplined.