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Personal Essay: Amateur Delinquents

Yasmin Garcia

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When my sister and I arrived home from school, there was a strong stink of dog poop and urine. We noticed a Converse shoe print on the poop resting in front of the living room television. Our clothes covered the floors, and my mom’s jewelry box was open wide.

“Woah, what happened here?” I asked, very confused.

“Someone broke into our house and tried to steal our stuff, stupid.” I could always count on my sister to be direct.  She rolled her eyes, typical of her.

My sister immediately called my parents. After our panic, we inspected our whole house.

My Nintendo and my books were still in my room. I let out a sigh of relief.

We waited for my parents to arrive, the seconds felt like hours. My dad realized his truck was missing, so he called the cops. They did their cop thing with pictures and fingerprints, but, even after months of waiting, they had nothing to report.  We would go in and check on the case, and they would always say they were working on it.

We took some independent action.  My mother had become so paranoid, we installed security cameras around and inside the house.

Three months later, the police called.

Apparently, some random hiker in the woods found the truck hidden between tall, old, thick trees very close to our house. The thief was the son of our very own neighbor.  Jose.

We saw that coming.  Kind of. But, we were still shocked. We didn’t think Jose would do anything to us, maybe other people, but not us.

I don’t know why we thought we were immune to his thievery.  I had heard stories about him since elementary. He would walk into stores and steal pencils, paper clips, erasers.  He stole nothingness.

Until now, it wasn’t really our business, I guess.

His dad had always been kind to us and was a friend to my dad. They would always have short, friendly conversations.

My dad, being a dad, knew how the kids of any dad could be. He was understanding.

We would always see Jose and his pals outside drinking or smoking while his dad worked. Our neighbor was so hard working and caring, and Jose was pretty much the opposite.

So, why our truck? Why were we Jose’s victims? I am not sure. Maybe it was just easier for them. It is easy to case a house that is right across the street.

My parents decided not to make a big deal about the situation. Jose was their friend’s child, and they didn’t want to cause more trouble. He had his hands full with Jose.

It seems like most kids do things without thinking how it will affect a parent. Jose’s dad had probably gone through so much and dealt with his kid through many things.

However, this might be the problem.

Parents tend to baby their children. Enabling parents are more common than we think. Enabling is any behavior from a parent that makes it easier for children to continue down a destructive or hard path. When their kids have any kind of problem, they let them step back and try to fix it for them. This might make it easy, temporarily. Like Jose’s father, they usually don’t yell at them or give them any sort of punishment for their actions.

Or, more importantly, they don’t model the ideal behavior in the first place.

One afternoon, my dad was viewing the neighborhood action on the security camera footage from the day before.

It captured a lot more than we expected.

We saw the sister of Jose arriving her house around 3 a.m. She would always go out, especially when her dad was home. She’d avoid him as much as possible. There was an obvious reason as to why this was.

Our neighbor created a broken family.

It started with his wife who couldn’t deal with it anymore and ended up leaving. The daughter was following her steps, and she’d find any excuse to leave the house.

Jose was following someone lockstep, but it was his father’s steps.

Although his dad seemed kind and hardworking outside his house, inside there was more to it. Inside their house there was yelling and throwing, sometimes even beating. Over the years, Jose watched this sad film on replay, and he learned from the antagonist.  

An enabling parent wasn’t the problem.


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Personal Essay: Amateur Delinquents