Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Evils of Kids Having Fun With Chalk Art


I took my kids to the annual chalk art festival this past weekend.  It is really fun.  Over 100 artists do some magnificent work on the streets around Larimer Square.  There are food booths, bands and a great kids area for physical activities and doing chalk-art of their own. 

My kids love doing chalk on the sidewalks at home.  We live on a block where all the houses face in to a central courtyard that is comprised of grass, landscaping boxes, a lot of sidewalks and a central area of concrete.  It’s a great place for biking, scooters and a wonderful canvass for chalk. 

On our first weekend in the new house, the boys and I drew a giant human board game in the courtyard.  Each sidewalk square became it’s own space on our human board game.  The outer courtyard sidewalk is a complete square making for a perfect Monopoly style game board.  We created all kinds of fun spaces such as:
  • Move forward or back X spaces
  • Stand on the big rock and yell “My brain is made of macaroni and cheese” as loud as you can three times
  • Stand in a cloud of bugs for one minute without moving (this was Will’s diabolical square as there happened to be a swarm of bugs by some bushes that evening)
  • Spin around in a circle ten times
  • Change places with any other player
  • Ding dong ditch this house (an arrow pointed to a neighbor’s house – I had to strike that one from the game, but I appreciated the creativity)
  • Eat a leaf (again, I had to nix this one)
  • Run around the courtyard square while slapping your butt and yelling “My pants are on fire!”
  • You must hop for the rest of the game
  • Give daddy a hug and tell him he rocks the world and also that he is very handsome (one guess as to who came up with this gem)
  • Crab walk to the tree and back 


There were about fifty game squares along with some free spaces.  We used a deck of cards for moving.  Some other kids came over and played with us and it was really fun.

The boys also do random chalk drawings just like all kids do.  Ironically, on the chalk-art festival weekend, it came to our attention that chalk is not allowed on the common area sidewalks.  The HOA sent an email out to all the homeowners (there are four blocks like ours comprised of the HOA).  About 80% of all the homes in the HOA have young children in the household.  And about 80% of those 80% routinely do chalk on the sidewalks.  This reprimand and warning caused an uproar amongst everybody.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m new or because I’m clueless and never signed up to receive HOA info (probably the latter), but I haven’t heard or seen any of the hoopla surrounding this issue from the HOA.  But the neighbors have told me all about it.  One mom even called the television stations and got some interest from them to come out.  She was aghast that the HOA would even spend time on this and demanded to know what assholes want to tell her children they can’t play hopscotch.

I speculated as to whether or not our human board game caused the HOA to send out the notice.  I was surprised that most people were aware of the human board game even though it only lasted about a day until the rains and sprinklers took it out.  They all said they loved it and their kids wanted to play.  But apparently there is at least one household that went to the trouble to find the bylaw in the HOA rules and made a formal complaint.  Nobody seems to know who it is.

Even the kids are in on the debate.  They don’t understand it.  I told them this is one rule they can mostly ignore.  I told them not to chalk the sidewalks right in front of other houses, but if they want to do the middle of the courtyard and in front of our house to have at it. 

They are amazed I am authorizing them to break a rule.  Will has taken it upon himself to protest by chalking the middle of the courtyard with messages such as, “Kids love art,” and “Why can’t we have fun?”  I am not sure I’m doing the right thing to let them violate the rule and even be part of the protest. There are other parents fighting the HOA and I guess we will honor whatever comes out of that battle.  But if the HOA sticks to their guns, I want them to tell all the kids in the neighborhood why they can’t have fun and do art.

As Denver celebrates art with a spectacular chalk festival downtown, a battle is brewing in my little neighborhood over the dark-side of chalk-art.  Which is what again?

22 comments:

  1. Seriously? No chalk? You are DEFINITELY doing the right thing... but I don't see it as you giving them a pass on breaking the rules, but teaching them how to peacefully protest. My God, how miserable is the asshole who came up with the idea of outlawing sidewalk chalk.

    By the way, that game sounds like fun and, I know I say it all the time, but you are SUCH an awesome dad.

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  2. Seriously? No chalk? You are DEFINITELY doing the right thing... but I don't see it as you giving them a pass on breaking the rules, but teaching them how to peacefully protest. My God, how miserable is the asshole who came up with the idea of outlawing sidewalk chalk.

    By the way, that game sounds like fun and, I know I say it all the time, but you are SUCH an awesome dad.

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  3. Okay, either Mo has lost her fucking mind or there is something seriously wrong with blogger. I hope this means that I rise to the level of those two great minds I have never met... but love so much!

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  4. @6FM: Seriously? No chalk? You are DEFINITELY doing the right thing... but I don't see it as you giving them a pass on breaking the rules, but teaching them how to peacefully protest. My God, how miserable is the asshole who came up with the idea of outlawing sidewalk chalk.

    By the way, that game sounds like fun and, I know I say it all the time, but you are SUCH an awesome dad.

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  5. Just playing. I am lacking original thought and six and wow are great with comments. My inner smart ass took over.... I just amused myself. But true that great minds think alike.

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  6. @NicePeace: You have issues... but I still love you. xoxo

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  7. Sounds like you and your kids came up with a creative idea for a really fun game. It's a shame someone has to be a killjoy!

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  8. Maybe asshat would rather the neighborhood kiddos have spray paint and pellet guns. Those are fun too!

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  9. Hi there. This is your pissed off neighbor who called the news. Here is the news piece from last night:

    http://denver.cbslocal.com/video/7373178-hoa-members-in-stapletontry-to-stop-chalk-art/

    Down with moronic HOA "rules!" We'll continue to protest with more sidewalk chalk. :)

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  10. @eva: Chalk art is just the first step towards pillaging and vandalism.

    @sead: Right? I guess if my kids can't do chalk art we will have to start a marching band and see what the HOA says about loud parades. :)

    @sarah: How in the world did you find this tiny blog?! Awesome little segment - great job. I will be coming over to high-five you this weekend! And let me know how I can help the protest.

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  11. I thought I'd just witness some huge coverup that The Six-Fingered Monkey and NicePeace were one and the same person!

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  12. My husband was doing sidewalk chalk research (yes, we are going to bring this damn HOA down), and he found it. We love it! Glad you're in the 'hood and that your kiddos can help us keep up the criminal activity!

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  13. can i play too? your larger than life size monopoly game made me want to be a kid again. and since you used the word hoopla i can't stop thinking about hula hoops. wish i had one right now!

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  14. Go to hardware store, and get some yellow do not cross "police tape". Everyone take turns laying down on sidewalks while someone does a chalk outline of them. Wrap tape around nearby trees, or use stakes for a creative way to protest.

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  15. Want me to write a letter of complaint? I'm really good at being diplomatic. O_o

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  16. Wow that is crazy! I can see how if they were like writing nasty things or going right up to people's doorsteps...but aside from that, it sounds ludicrous to me.

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  17. Fantastic! Teaching them to stand up for what is right. Stick it to the man, little Bretthead kids! Power to the People!!

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  18. When I was a kid there was no homeowners association to harass us about our chalk art. Of course, there were no sidewalks, either, so we drew all over the street. Also, no one paid to have their yards sprayed so they could have that perfect lawn. And fences were all chain link. Except ours. We had something you normally see around a horse pasture.

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  19. Please keep us posted on what happens with this. I just had this happen in our HOA today. The maintenance guy came over and told us no more chalk, not even in front of our garage, because it is all shared property and 3 neighbors in our row of 8 complained yesterday when my boys were out chalking the driveway. No-one else was outside - no-one asked them to stop. Had I known, I would have made sure they only play right in front of our garage before someone feels the need to complain.

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  20. @mandy: They are the same person in that they both have serious internal issues, however each also has many persons of various disorders and personalities inside their respective heads and therefore are completely unique.

    @sarahc: Somebody told me CNN picked up the story. And then I'm sure you saw the Stapleton MCA email clarifying they are the good guys and that they encourage kids to do chalk art in all the parks and common areas. Our HOA needs to get with it.

    @dinamo: I'm looking at two hulahoops right now. My kids are good.

    @tam: That is good and will be added to the list of unscrupulous retaliation tactics to be used under dire circumstances.

    @vapid: YES! You write the best complaint letters ever! I don't think they can kick me out like what resulted with your last letter, so let's go for it!

    @mel: Well, they did have some ding dong ditch squares, but they didn't actually to them. Even so, it sounds like 90+% residents agree it is stupid so we have to overturn the 10% that somehow made this decision.

    @dawn: I can visualize the pom poms!

    @memphissteve: Things are different out in the sticks.

    @uta: You are in Minneapolis? That is nuts - your own driveway is your canvass. Sounds like a smaller HOA and you may have to fight it. Or take a passive aggressive approach and chalk protest at night. :)

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  21. Yup, Minneapolis. We have 68 units in our HOA, mostly made up of building of 8 units each. We've been gone for a while, but I will have the kids slowly start using chalk in our driveway only and see what happens. Any news from your experience? I'm sure you saw the Anderson Cooper RidicuList video, right? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=629jNsI3omM

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Gimmie some lip