When Jason Hartanov's 17-year-old daughter forwarded a Snapchat of their San Clemente, California, front yard covered in toilet paper to let him know they had been hit by anonymous vandals, she was apologetic and promised to help clean it up.
Hartanov was disappointed in the kids who "TP'd" his house, but not for the reason his daughter expected. In fact, when he saw the strands of toilet paper hanging from his trees, he told TODAY Parents his first thought was, "This is the greatest thing ever."
Hartanov felt compelled to take a picture of his house and post it on Facebook. "To the kids who TP'd my house last night... THANK YOU," he wrote.
"Thank you for restoring my hope in the youth. Thank you for bringing fun in a way too serious world. Thank you for finding a great use of the excess toilet paper people bought during Covid.
"Thank you for being KIDS. Thank you for modeling PLAY. Thank you for showing CREATIVITY. Thank you for embracing LIFE IS SHORT, HAVE FUN."
But then, Hartanov had more to say.
"To these kids' parents and educators... THIS IS SHODDY TP-ING WORK. We should be ashamed," he wrote.
"We need to teach our youth about doing things with excellence. We need them to focus on the details. They needed better coordination and leadership. We need American kids to step up their game!
"KIDS... Next time, ask me for more TP so we can fill in the gaps," he offered. "The trees are too bare, the roof has little to no paper, and you left half-rolls sitting on the ground.
"Ask me for help, so I can show you how to coordinate an attack and TP the right way."
Hartanov's post went viral and was shared over 2,000 times over the next few days.
The dad of four girls ranging in age from 11 to 20 helps CEOs grow their businesses as an executive coach. He also has what he calls a "transformational coaching" practice in which he helps his clients find inner peace and happiness.
Hartanov told TODAY Parents that just as in his work, his reaction to his house being TP'd was "all about mindset."
"It's like the hokey internet meme says," he said. "'It's not what happens to you that matters, it's your response to it.' It's not what your kids are doing, it's how you respond. We parents need to pause sometimes and realize there is another way to look at a situation."
That is why instead of being angry about the mess, the results of the mischief making filled Hartanov with "an immense sense of gratitude that this is still alive in the world."
"Everything is so freaking serious right now," he said. "There's no more kids just being kids. We're so tired of our kids being on electronics or watching Netflix, stuck in house because of COVID. We need more of this — to get out of the house, get off the electronics."
Hartanov said that he and commenters on the post agreed that TP'ing a house felt like nostalgic fun that didn't hurt anyone. "It's a rite of passage to TP a house," he said. "These kids are keeping traditions alive. It connected me back to my own childhood — I miss living in the moment!"
Rumor has it that the TP bandits might have been a roving band of middle school age girls — a thought that only delights Hartanov more and explains their poor performance, he said.
"They're new. They're not professionals or high schoolers," he laughed. "Nobody has trained them."
Though his daughters offered to help him clean up, Hartanov said they had no reason to feel sorry for the incident. "You never TP the houses of people you don't like," he noted. "You TP the fun people. I appreciate that someone cares enough about my daughters to do it to us.
"I'd be bummed if no one ever TP'd me. I'd think, 'Why doesn't anyone love me?'" he said.
Hartanov's house was hit a second time after the post went viral. "Second time was better. Just a little weak!"
Hartanov said he meant what he wrote to the perpetrators at the end of his Facebook post.
"Thank you for spreading joy to me and my girls. I applaud you."