■ Consideration of others
Saturday mornings were a time to which Janey looked forward. She often seemed to be in trouble for one thing or another: She hadn't done her homework, she hadn't been paying attention in class, and she was watching TV when the dishwasher needed to be loaded. On Saturday mornings she was free—free to play with friends and not have to worry about getting into trouble. At least, that was until they were playing ball. Janey threw the ball a little too hard and her friend missed the catch. It landed in Mr. Grumblebum's yard!
"Mr. Grumblebum" wasn't his real name, of course, but he had earned it among the neighborhood kids for good reasons. He always had something to grumble about and kids were his favorite targets. He was angry, period.
As Janey looked over the fence, she saw Grumblebum picking up the ball. It hadn't broken a window or knocked down any of his flowers but already she could see that he was angry. By the time he stormed, red-faced, into their driveway, Janey and her friend were looking for somewhere to hide.
Full ofrage, Mr. Grumblebum wasn't watching where he was going and stepped on Janey's skateboard. Whoosh, the skateboard took off down the driveway. Waving his arms about insanely to keep balance, Mr. Grumblebum lost hold of the ball and sped down the driveway across the path, doing an ollie as he leapt the curb.
Hey, thought Janey, I didn't know old Grumblebum knew how to skate. That was a cool ollie.
He raced across the road—luckily there were no cars coming down the street. The board hit the opposite curb with a sudden thump and came to a dead stop. Mr. Grumblebum flew into the air, doing an aerial somersault in the tuck position. "Wow, what a great stunt" Janey shouted to her friend. "I have to learn how to do that."
Now, every Saturday morning old Granny Gordon made her way up to the supermarket on High Street and came back down with a cart full of groceries. Everyone knows that you shouldn't take supermarket carts away from the supermarket, but frail old Granny Gordon had been doing it for years and nobody seemed to bother that she did.
Mr. Grumblebum hadn't perfected his skateboard trick. He would have really impressed Janey if he had landed back on the skateboard, but instead he landed on top of old Granny Gordon's shopping cart. She screamed in fright, let go of the handlebar, and Mr. Grumblebum took off down the hill. To Janey, Grumblebum's screams sounded just like those of excited kids on a roller coaster. "I didn't know old Grumblebum could have so much fun" she called, taking off after him.
Down the hill, Ms. Greenfingers had a lovely row of rosebushes that bordered the path. Every now and again she would go to the zoo and collect a bag of "zoo poo" an exotic mix of elephant, hippopotamus, monkey, and other animal poos that was supposed to be good for roses. She would mix it in a bucket with some water to make a thick, sloppy stew to feed her roses.
As Mr. Grumblebum shot past on the shopping cart on top of old Granny Gordon's groceries, he just clipped Ms. Greenfingers as she was bending over to feed her roses. With a fright she screamed and threw the bucket in the air. Janey would later recall it as if it had been filmed in slow motion. The bucket shot into the air, slowly tipped over, and the zoo poo stew rained down like water from a fire hydrant, drenching Grumblebum from head to toe. Then the upended bucket landed on top of his head. He looked like a helmeted knight of old charging into a joust on his shopping-cart horse.
The trolley careered down the hill and across a park, thumping into the wall that edged a large lake. Now he's showing off, thought Janey as Mr. Grumblebum executed another aerial somersault.
Water skiers looked forward to weekends on the lake as much as Janey did to her Saturday morn ing freedom, but one of them was in for a big surprise. Miraculously, Mr. Grumblebum landed between the skier's arms, his feet perfectly on the skis and his hands on the rope. The skier let go, falling off in fright, but the driver of the boat, obviously, hadn't noticed for they were heading for the giant ramp of a ski jump. Mr. Grumblebum hadn't noticed either because he was still wearing the zoo poo stew bucket like a knight's helmet—except it had no visor for him to see out. He shot into the air like a rocket off a launch pad, the bucket flying off his head, his eyes wide with terror. Somehow, in midair, he managed to turn his fall into a monstrous belly flop. Ooops, Janey thought, that wasn't such a great stunt, and decided it was time to go and collect her skateboard.
Of course, it wasn't the last she heard about it. As soon as Mr. Grumblebum had stumbled home and had a shower with lots of sweet-smelling shampoo to wash off the zoo poo stew, he was knocking on Janey's front door, carefully watching out this time for any skateboards on the driveway. Janey's mother invited him in for coffee, but he was already launching into an angry outburst about Janey's carelessness and irresponsibility.
"Yes," her mom agreed, "Janey may have been partly responsible for the ball going over the fence into your place. Certainly, she was responsible for leaving her skateboard in our drive. However, you were responsible for not looking, and stepping on it when you were so focused on your anger. We are all responsible for the things that we do."
Mom promised Mr. Grumblebum that she would talk with Janey but, in fact, she really didn't need to. There were some important things that Janey had already learned.
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