As I’m sweeping the leaves in front of our house I see a mother and her toddler heading in my direction. The child is kicking through the piles of leaves in front of the other houses, but surely she’ll stop him when they get to me. The mother and I lock eyes as the kid kicks my neighbor’s leaves onto my just-swept sidewalk. “I’m sorry, that’s probably not helpful,” she says, making no attempt to stop him. I guess there simply was no conceivable way to avoid this.

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