Love them or hate them, most of us have neighbours. Neighbours are a mixed blessing - they can be our friends, or someone to call on in an emergency, or there to babysit our kids or lend us a garden tool we need. On the other hand, they can be hostile, noisy, inconsiderate or even threatening.
Most of the neighbours on my street are great. We don’t tread on each other’s toes, we chat when we see each other on the street, the lots are big enough that we’re not overcrowded, and we keep an eye on things when people are away.
Not so the neighbours whose backyard adjoins ours.
I intend to lay this issue to rest as much as possible once I’ve got this off my chest, but the main problem at first was the 9 year old kid dirtbiking in their backyard. This is a residential subdivision. When we moved in, all the houses and yards around us were presentable - we all kept up a certain level of maintenance and things looked good. The dirtbiking was a problem - it was noisy, it drove me crazy with the buzzing of the motor, and their yard turned into a weedy track with bumps for jumps. One day, this same 9 year old started riding around the block on a small roadbike - it was a Sunday afternoon, I wanted to enjoy sitting out on my deck on a peaceful day, and anyway I had doubts about the legality of a kid that age riding a vehicle on a public road. I went out there, stopped him and told him I didn’t want him to continue riding past my house. I have to confess I lost my temper. He went home and next thing I know his mother is over here tearing me off a strip for upsetting her son.
I checked with the RCMP and they confirmed that this boy should definitely not be riding on the road. He was subsequently caught in the act by the police and escorted home.
So, things were tense for a while. I still had to go down to the clothesline to hang out the laundry, which is not far from the fence dividing our properties. I was hoping that things would settle down and that we wouldn’t have any more problems.
However this 9 year child started messing about with the large rocks at the top of my yard. He started setting fires, one close to our fence. He has thankfully not been riding his dirtbike in the backyard any more, but he still takes his roadbike out onto the public road and rides it around. Recently, he and some friends were playing with paintball guns in their backyard and a couple of paintballs came over the fence, hitting my tree and my van.
The paintball thing was the last straw. I realised that perhaps the mother didn’t know what her child was doing and so I wrote a very polite letter expressing my concern for my family’s and my property’s safety. (I am way better with writing things down; I didn’t want another confrontation.)
I received a written reply yesterday, about 6 weeks after I wrote my letter. To summarize, this boy’s mother thinks it’s none of my business whether her son rides his motorbike on the road, she has said that the paintball guns were being used by a number of kids in her backyard so it may not have been her son who “accidentally” shot them into my yard, she says that he denies rolling rocks in my yard and she believes him (even though we have seen him do it and I said so in my letter), she has blamed another child for setting the fire, and ends up accusing me of harassing him.
We did take some photos of her son to back up our complaints to the RCMP and the municipality, and this is what she calls our harassment, though we haven’t done this recently and we didn’t even keep the photos.
I can see that even though this mother has discussed my letter with her son, she obviously thinks he is perfect and would never lie to her. Everything I mentioned in my letter to her, which I saw with my own eyes, she has blamed on other people’s kids. I can’t help but think that this child is growing up in an atmosphere of “you can do anything you like, honey” and “don’t pay any attention to those stupid laws or the nasty neighbours”!
One of my other neighbours agrees with me that this child is a nutcase. She has seen him driving a car around the neighbourhood (!), mooning her house because she complained about his behaviour, and when she called to talk to his mother about the fires he was setting, the woman had the cheek to blame the other’s son for providing the lighter to start the fire!
This boy’s mother says he is learning every day right from wrong. I worry that with the sort of blind adoration she seems to have for him, he will not be receiving any consequences for his anti-social behaviour at home, and one day his actions will have more serious consequences that will put him up against the RCMP. Better to have learned right from wrong from your parents, when the mistakes are likely to be small and relatively insignificant, I would think. What is it going to be like to be around this boy when he’s a teenager?
She tells me that how she raises her child is her business, which is true, however I hope that my family doesn’t have to suffer from her parenting methods.