Walking home from work late Tuesday afternoon, I came upon my neighbor Jeff three doors down, sitting on his front porch. He was talking to and laughing with two young girls (whose names I do not know) who are neighbors to him, another house or two away. They intentionally interrupted our conversation with playful banter, as pre-teens do, giggling more than communicating by words. I essentially gave up my attempt at a conversation with Jeff. We both shrugged our shoulders, smiled, and I walked away.
On my departure, the girls no longer had a conversation to mediate, and so they jumped from his porch and climbed to the lowest branches of a diciduous tree that grows from the space between the walk and the street. I turned to look over my shoulder when they asked, nearly in unison —
“J-e-f-f! Do you have insurance?”
Jeff responded, “What?”
“Do you have insurance?” the older repeated.
Jeff laughed, a bit nervous, “Uhh, yeah, of course. Why?”
Without hesitation, “Well, if we fall from your tree, we want to know if we can sue you.”
Yikes! I kept walking, shaking my head and wondering if a modern childhood can truly be that heavily burdened with such frightful concerns.