Troublesome neighbor boys pour sugar into gas tank of new car

Lefty Graves
Car parked in driveway.Photo bySamuel CharrisonUnsplash

** This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as shared with me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

It seems that every neighborhood has one nuisance child that seems to get under everyone’s skin and cause problems. My friend Ellie’s neighborhood is no exception. Ellie lives in an upscale neighborhood. It’s a gated community, and everyone seems to know everyone.

Unfortunately, one particular family seems to be at the center of a lot of neighborhood controversy. They have two boys, and both of the boys seem intent on causing problems for their parents and the neighbors surrounding them.

Ellie’s neighbor Tom just bought a new car a few months ago and had to take it in to have it serviced recently. At first, Tom thought he had simply purchased some bad gas that had perhaps been watered down. However, the new car is Tom’s baby, and he usually purchases the highest quality fuel that he can buy.

Ellie was reviewing her doorbell camera the other day and saw the two aforementioned neighbor boys pouring a white substance into Tom’s gas tank and realized that she had to say something. She started with the boys’ mom. Elizabeth reviewed the video with Ellie and admitted that those were definitely her boys. She also mentioned that the boys had asked her for a cup or so of sugar for a friend who was baking cookies.

Putting two-and-two together, it wasn’t difficult to figure out how the strange substance got into Tom’s gas tank. Elizabeth borrowed the video to show her husband. They then took the boys with them to Tom’s house and showed Tom the video. This was the first time the boys had seen the video, and they tried to deny everything, but of course, they couldn’t when it was clearly on the doorbell video.

Elizabeth and her husband took the bill from Tom and paid it in full. They also assured Tom that the boys wouldn’t be outside unsupervised again. They then took their boys home, where they emptied their allowance banks and repaid themselves for their boys’ antics.

The boys, ages 10 and 12, are no longer allowed outside unsupervised. They also have to adhere to some new rules, and their parents insisted on putting them into counseling. Vehicles are expensive, and thankfully Tom’s car was able to be repaired. It could have been much worse.

The boys are also required to do more chores (since they obviously had too much time on their hands) and maintain their school grades. Parenting is no easy task, and Elizabeth certainly has her work cut out for her. At ages 10 and 12, one would think that boys (or even girls, for that matter) are old enough to know better than to sabotage someone else’s vehicle. What do you think? Did Elizabeth handle this right? Were she and her husband right in paying for Tom’s repairs and then taking the money from their boys? What would you have done?

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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction recovery, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming, and an eclectic mix of other topics. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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