Surely You Must be Joking! Mom Faces Possible $2,500 Fine for Letting Daughter Use Sidewalk ChalkMeredith Carroll
I wish I were joking. Because if this story is true (and, sadly, it is), then I’d better start saving my pennies — thousands and thousands of them — because I’m guilty, too.
Susan Mortensen, a Virginia mom to a 4-year-old child, has to serve 50 hours of community service or otherwise pay a $2,500 fine after she was “caught” letting her daughter draw on rocks with sidewalk chalk, according to The Huffington Post (via WTVR).
Using sidewalk chalk on a sidewalk is considered vandalism in Richmond, apparently.
Apparently it didn’t help that when Mortensen was ticketed, she “responded with an attitude and curse words,” but surely that in and of itself doesn’t merit that kind of sentence. And, apparently, Mortensen herself had been convicted of painting on rocks two years ago, although it’s unclear if and why that would have a bearing on her preschool-age daughter drawing with sidewalk chalk in the present day.
The judge in the case has told Mortensen she needs to paint 200 boundary posts on the side of a bridge, and if she fails to do so by January, she’ll be slapped with a $2,500 fine.
It’d be understandable if Mortensen’s daughter were spray-painting the rocks. Or painting them. Or even using crayons on them. But sidewalk chalk? That stuff that washes away when it rains, when a sprinkler hits it or when a dog pees on it?
That’s vandalism? A 4-year-old’s scribbles are vandalism? Last time I checked that was called a weekday afternoon activity. One that doesn’t hurt anyone. One that encourages children to spend time outdoors. One that gives children an opportunity to express their creativity. And one that certainly doesn’t merit criminal charges.
Even if you don’t like a child’s sidewalk chalk display, do you think it rises to the level of a crime?
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