The Beginning of Success or Failure Begins in the Home

By: Maggie Griffin

Recently I came to terms with what I will not tolerate anymore as a homeowner and a citizen who takes pride in my home, the neighborhood of which I live and honor the fact I am in the public eye – simply by knowing right from wrong and helping others in need.

However, as a yearly “ritual” (and I say that with kindness), the young adults in my neighborhood once again caused the ever so act of vandalism on October 30th, 2010, the eve of Halloween to my property and the properties of others.

Let me take a few years back of the “happenings” on that same night that costs the municipality un-expected expenses to clean up and replace a few things. In 2009, young adults encouraged by their parents with supplies for mischief night, spray painted with hair color spray personal property items of homeowners, such as cars. Profanity written on stop signs, along with signs that clearly are there to alert drivers there is a “hearing impaired child” in the neighborhood. Broken eggs and pumpkins in the middle of the streets that caused people of all ages to fall get hurt and seriously injured while out on October 31st trick or treating. Toilet paper hung on trees and electrical lines, of which can impair a driver’s view, worse – cause electrical hazards.

But this year took my patience. Witnessing 3 times, over a dozen young adults that attend a local senior high school in my yard, running back and forth in my yard along with decorating the stop signs with soap and electrical lines on the corner with toilet paper, eggs in my driveway and the driveways of other residents, gave me reason to call my local police department. On the first call I stated there is a large group of teenagers causing serious mischief down my street. On the second call I stated they were in my yard more than once, now located at a specific address. On the third call I stated they are now at this address, back to the “reporting headquarters” also known as the house they all met at and left at – which at this point I now knew who it was.

I received from the dispatcher “It is only vandalism, it's not like a murder” – a statement that is clearly recorded when calling 911. Police finally came to my home for me to make my statement, admitting there were previous calls and they stopped this same group of teenagers and took away their back-pack of supplies, telling them to go home. They went home and got more supplies, obviously.

However, I wanted to avoid this prior to when finally knowing now who the leader of the pack was and trying to talk to him to stop, asking if I can talk to his parents – at this time it was around and about 11:00 at night. He stated “my parents are not home”. I than told him I am very upset that he and his friends did this, leaving the girls in this group calling me names I wouldn’t repeat in writing along with shooting out the “tough” statements “I will kick your ____”. Well, I may be an adult, but I was also taught to defend myself if anyone ever tried to physically hurt me, leaving me telling these young adult girls if they touch me, I will re-act back in my defense. Their answer “you cannot do that, we are minors – you’ll go to jail”. So of course, once again, a teenager knows it all after throwing toilet paper and eggs on other people's properties and the streets along with soaping stop signs at the corners of the street.

I have lived to see a lot of things in my teen years and adult years. Not saying that I was a perfect child, but as a daughter of a former police commissioner, my siblings and I knew better than to break any kind of law, which includes vandalism on mischief night or any day and night for that matter. I do remember those who went above the law and assumed “they couldn’t get in trouble”. Unfortunately, many of those people ended up jobless and on welfare in their later years. Therefore, reflecting on the moment, I gave advice, telling these young adults who caused the 2010 mischief, that if they continue this route in their lives and their choice of language, they will end up in the welfare line 10 years from now. It appears my words of advice was not understood by what I was trying to get across, leaving the boy who I wanted to reason with and ask him to stop coming in my yard and causing this mischief with his friends, resulted in him angrily, with his arms up, coming after me, on my sidewalk, telling me he is going to “Harvard”.

I do want to thank the other boy who grabbed him to prevent him from touching me as I heard him say “Do Not Hit Her, it is not worth you getting in trouble for assault and battery”. Obviously that boy has a conscious and is raised to know right from wrong. I must commend his effort by standing up to protect me, a complete stranger to me that is a high school student, because he gave an example, as a young teenager, that stepping up to the plate to prevent harm and protect another at his young age will result in his future as an achiever of success later in life in more ways than success can be delivered to one who knows right from wrong.

In reflecting on this night, It was obvious that when two police officers finally came to take my statement, the female officer clearly did not want my statement to be given, over-riding what the male officer told me to do, which was “we need to speak to those kids and I will be back to get a statement from you for you to sign – would you mind sitting on your porch to wait?”. As they came back, the female officer clearly told me “There is the he said, she said and the truth is in the middle and it is up to her to find the truth”. Well the truth was sitting in my hands and garbage pail of the toilet paper I cleaned up and I left one egg in my driveway to show her, an egg that was clearly behind my daughter’s car. This same female officer brought up my health being a cancer patient in remission and told me to go back inside and go to bed, leaving me feeling discriminated, disgusted and disappointed at this female officer.

The following day, after my husband cleaned up more debris in my yard and is now aware of the “future Harvard student coming after me” as my daughter saw this from her bedroom window and came running outside that night and told my husband the following morning what she saw. However, by the time she came outside, I was back on my porch crying because my heart was broken by this boy’s actions that he clearly denied to his parents. However, my husband made it clear to my neighbor that this was unacceptable behavior and if he ever went to try to strike me again, he will go to Harvard with a limp. If the neighbor is as smart as he claims he is, he will then be able to comprehend the words of advice my husband stated and understand that what my husband advised is simple logic that means; “Act like this now, there are consequences by your own actions and someone may eventually retaliate if you do that to someone else. There is time to change your ways now, especially if your wish is to go to Harvard as this is not acceptable behavior in any school, college or university”.

This is our real world, teenagers not understanding these days the consequences of their words and actions yet encourage by their parents, as it was told to me that the father was out with an 8 year old causing mischief as well, and I should shut up.
Let’s call a spade of spades – what a child learns in life begins at the home.

My examples are my Daughter and Son. As I am proud to admit, my Daughter, who is now in a highly respected University. She graduated high school class of 2010 as a National Honor Roll Student, CAPT and Varsity scholar, receiving scholarships and acceptance to all universities she applied to - there she is on stage at her graduation wearing the golden sash, the metal and 2 tassles for her achievments.

Another proud moment is my Son leading a group of his fellow friends and classmates his own age in a food drive back in middle school, resulting in tripling the amount of food donations from the year prior during the holiday season, earning an honorable citation given to the school, presented to them by Republican State Represtantive Vincent Candelora on behalf of the State of Connecticut for their dedication to the food drive and the community.

Having given my examples in how I teach my children, I am proud of my children and the friends they choose to have in their lives.

Keep in mind the beginning of failure or success begins at home. What you as a parent say and do teaches and encourages your children to perform and repeat the same acts you present in front of them - good or bad.

Going back to what Halloween is. It began in the 1950s where children would dress up in costumes going door to door saying trick or treat with trick meaning “give me a treat or I will do a trick to your home” – “treat” meaning handing out candy to avoid a trick to a home. This is a fact. Where the ritual of mischief night began, nobody knows. But it is considered a night of violence and criminal activity the night before Halloween. People who perform these acts ruin the fun of the Halloween date for people of all ages to dress up in a costume and have honest fun by trick-or-treating. Today, homeowners will decorate their yards to what they deem fit to fulfill the “trick” in this old adage, following handing out candy.

I do want to emphasize another fact about mischief night, criminal vandalism and inappropriate activity. On October 30th every year is a night where Police and Fire Departments are on a triple duty so to speak because of mischeif activity that causes danger, accidents and injuries. They are obligated to protect and to serve the public. Not just catch, talk to and let anyone of any age causing vandalism or harm to anyone or to someone's home; worse – another form of criminal intent beyond vandalism, by telling these young adults causing such harm to stop and go their marry way home. Through my experience and seeing vandalism to other properties in my neighborhood, what happened to the obligation to protect and serve? Without exercising their obligation to protect and serve the public upon a 911 call is more expensive and harmful cost to both residents of any neighborhood in any town and municipalities. The cleanup of streets and the road signs to be cleaned or replaced cost the municipalities heavy funds that are not expected to spend as well. By not following procedure on that night, and telling these kids to go home after taking their back packs of toilet paper and other supplies away, cost the towns more unexpected money to spend to clean up the streets. Keep in mind this is not the only time of year where vandalism takes place in a town or city, but the ending result on the municipality level is costly; therefore, before a resident complains, don’t encourage acts performed on mischief night or any day or night – remember a homeowner’s property is a value, which also means keeping that same value of pride clean from neighborhood streets and anything that is the responsibility of our municipalities such as roads, road signs, electrical wires with debris hanging from the wires, etc.

When mischief happens, whatever kind, to someone’s home, it brings down the property values in the location and increases the crime rate and insurance of the homeowner’s home and personal property. Our Police and Fire Departments must take every call into 911 very seriously as well, however in my case on 10/30/10, the female officer chose to tell me a few things rather than protecting my civil rights as a homeowner, taxpayer and resident of the neighborhood. To conclude, she also told me to stop calling 911. The male officer in my eyes, ears and opinion, felt lost of words when he was prepared for me to make a statement and sign it because of the female officer’s opinion. Well, the next day, when trying to reason with my neighbors, it was clearly told to us from my neighbor, whose son and his gang caused such mischief, “if the police didn’t have a problem with it, why should you?”

The common complaints and questions we come to hear in municipalities are these questions - “why did my taxes go up; why did my homeowner’s insurance go up?, why did the value of my home go down?” Did you ever stop to think that no matter what time of year it is, vandalism, such as that performed on mischief night, is a crime? Trespassing without an intent to speak to your neighbor, but to cause nothing but disturbance on another person's property is a crime? Did you know the amount of calls into 911 for a specific area stay noted on records? As a Real Estate professional I will tell you that these acts will bring down property values and increase the crime rate in the location along with insurance as these are recorded, and noted, by municipalities and become public knowledge when researching a specific area's information. When it comes to town property, such as street signs, it is a large unexpected expense for every town to replace or repair any sign, or clean up a road because of these unacceptable acts of vandalism from others.

But when I hear; “My Own Father is doing mischief with an 8 year old” I shook my head and wondered to myself what is wrong with this picture? Following, the next day I am asked by my neighbor if “the toilet paper bothers me” - yes it does – have you looked into EPA lately? It is also considered “littering” as well. But this experience is an act of mischief vandalism to homes in a nice area.

As for the female police officer holding the power of a badge, the truth was the broken egg you saw in my driveway after I cleaned up the others, along with the large amount of toilet paper in my hands and arms that you refused to take note of. Stating to me “maybe it flew from the street” when my home is clearly set back a ways from the street, you also refused to look in my garbage pail for the rest of the mess I cleaned up and felt no need to note the amount of toilet paper I was holding in my hands to my arms. You made your own assumption giving me a tone of difference; to include you did not allow me, nor found it necessary to sign a written statement per the instructions of your fellow officer, remarking to me that you responded to a 911 call a few years back to get me to the Emergency Room - at that moment I clearly reminded you I am still a cancer patient in remission – something that had nothing to do with my call of vandalism, yet bringing to your attention I just had major surgery and this is unfair to me to have to clean up my yard of debris, like eggs, that can cause critters such as skunks and possums or even mice, to be attracted to my yard because of broken eggs. All you had to say is "I am sorry about your health, go in your house and get some rest" and you and the other officer left upon your instructions. What in the world did all of that have to do with my call about vandalism to my property?

As for the dispatcher that stated to me when I called 911 “it’s only vandalism, not a murder”, I have news for you – vandalism is a crime that can lead into young adults to commit worse crimes in their older years. But that’s OK because as the parent told the female police officer “it’s a ritual between us neighbors" The other residence, including myself, beg to differ.

If you are a parent, keep in mind everything you do, say and encourage is how you teach your kids. Things can be worse – where do kids learn unacceptable acts from? Where does it begin? Not in our schools, but unfortunately what a child learns at home, tends to bring it into a school.

Let’s mention bonfires. If you reside in a neighborhood that is not zoned for bonfires, don’t have one! Back yard or front yard, you are risking a fire that can reach high to the trees and leaves, traveling to your neighbor’s property line and causing your own home at risk. When you have a bonfire, you are teaching your child how to start a bonfire with their friends when you are not home. I have a major concern about this because the previous town I lived in, I was impacted extremely by a house fire during the holiday season of 2001/2002 – my reason why I sold my previous home and moved to where I am today.

Funny – I can go back and do a lecture at their school in full make-up and hair design, dressed up as the “Maggie Griffin” they see in the papers as the columnist to celebrities and in other publications, or the Real Estate professional talking on career day. But on October 30th, 2010, I experienced these events in my P.J.’s and my hair rolled up in a bun, wet, without make-up. Not to be vein, I will include the picture of me that is seen in many publications as a columnist, wearing my make-up properly and my hair done – this was taken in May of 2010 at the ripe old age of 41.

Therefore, to correct the young lady when calling me an “old fart” – an “old fart” is human gas that smells and tends to hang around too long, disturbing those who smell the odor of the fart that never seems to go away, resulting in using an entire can of Lysol to dis-infect the bad odor. For humans with bad odor that seeps through the words in their mouths, luckily there is anti-bacterial mouth wash that does not contain alcohol.

When a neighbor asked my husband and I if the problem is “the toilet paper”, I said yes. Having served on Legislative Committees, I will have to be clear that when toilet paper is misused in the nature it is used for vandalism purposes, it is considered an EPA issue if not used properly. As a fortune cookie once had a message that stated “one who does not use toilet paper for butt, wakes up with smelly fingers” is one ironic fortune cookie that I have to admit is true.

As for the eggs that miraculously appeared in my driveway at the darkness of night on October 30th, 2010, I stated to the female police officer, and I hope she remembers this statement when I said it, “I find it amazing that chickens can fly and hatch eggs in the sky at night”.

Back in 2007, I was featured in a book called “work like a dog” in regards to the career of Real Estate. I told my own experience in buying this home and selling my other home, with the author titling my story called “The Money Pit” after the movie because the situations were very similiar when I bought the house I reside in today.

Now, I live the real life version of the TV series “Desperate Housewives” in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, I have a problem with meeting with my neighbors who choose to gossip. Therefore, I chose to stay as an independent homeowner – but I do get a good laugh when the gossip gets back to me. That is why I teach my children gossip is a way of words that are used from someone who just has nothing else better to do, so ignore the gossip and focus on your own goals. Oh the tangle webs I witness, some good, some bad, some that belong with the toilet paper flushed down the oval office in my bathroom.

I hope this article touches every reason that I am pointing out. We all want to protect our children, but protecting our children does not mean teaching them to do stupid things to harm another and denying the truth of the matter at hand because they learn the basics starting from the home.

Back in the 80’s there was a TV commercial every night that said “It is 10:00, do you know where your children are”. They don’t play that commercial anymore as those children are now parents. But now, there should be a commercial that says “It is 10:00, do you know what your children are doing?”

Our youth is our future. It is up to the parents of our youth to teach in the home, starting at birth, right from wrong, not encourage any acts of harm of any kind. What we do and say as parents are absorbed by our children – good or bad - starting at birth.

Below is an example of something that is even worse, and a nightmare, that our youth learns, starting from the home, where failure can begin. I encourage you to watch as vandalism is a crime, even if a child sees their parent do it on mischeif night with toilet paper, eggs and soap. But the smallest of crimes children learn from the parents who may feel is harmless, may also lead into worse crimes children and teenagers may enounter in their future because of what some parents feel is "harmless" by criminal acts conducted on mischeif night, or any night for that matter. Teach your kids right, starting at birth. Being a parent does not mean reliving your childhood through your children. What a child sees from their
parent(s), they learn - good or bad.

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