Should we stop being annoying neighbors?
October 3, 2013 6:35 PM Subscribe
Is hanging laundry in the front yard inconsiderate? How about children playing in the front yard? How about kids leaving their toys in the front yard?
posted by mearls to human relations (98 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
We moved to a new house last year in a neighborhood where we new several of the neighbors before we moved in and were absolutely thrilled to have found it. It has an acre of land, the last house on the block on this side at least. And everything was great for most of the first years... or so we thought. When we put up a clothesline in the front yard, a neighbor two doors down asked us to take it down. Well, we didn't. I brought them a bottle of wine and said that with a baby running around, this was really the best place for it for our family at this time. And they took this well.
Our neighbor across the street said that she had thought that this was a very strange request from those neighbors and that it had made her feel weird about the whole neighborhood.
And now we get to the part that I am most confused about. The neighbor across the street had been very friendly, to the point of taking my kids with her to walk her dog on a regular basis. We looked after her cats when she went away and we asked her to take care of our cat when we went away. When we came back there was a note to the effect that our house was VERY MESSY. And she had a point. She thought that we didn't have a litter box - which we did in the garage accessible via cat door and the cat did use it. It wasn't until two months later that she said she was very disturbed by it and has a job where she has to report this kind of thing and that we put her in a really awkward position. She treats her pets like family. She had been cold to us for the past couple of month but it wasn't terribly noticeable, we are all pretty busy. Bu I thanked her for telling me and went on my way.
My wife sent her a note explaining that we a busy and children take priority and such. I didn't read the note. And today we got a letter that both criticized us for not teaching our children to put their toys away (yeah, it's true. not a big priority.) but saying that it is wonderful that they are not inside watching TV. "But can't you use your back and side yards/" she feels like she is under obligation to be an audience and that she doesn't want to "run the gauntlet through all of us" every time she comes and goes. "I can't get into or out of my house with out their attention." "I've noticed that some parents assume everyone is as enchanted with their children as they are - and put them in the middle of every occasion so that they can be maximally admired." She wants us to move the play equipment to the back and side yards. She suggests that we put up a fence.
I presume that if two people are complaining about the same aspect of my life, I probably have something to do with it. But, I live in a detached house a good fifty yards away from this lady. True, we can see her car in her driveway and she does have to drive past our house to get in and out and my six year olds and one year old do look at every car that comes our way. We do have monkey bars and a swing set in the front yard under the big shade tree. Yep, kids are riding bikes and tricycles all day long. We have a picnic table under the shade tree too and eat lunch out there most days and dinners some nights too. We like to watch the sunset.
So it is just awkward as hell. I don't know what to tell my kids. "Don't go over to the neighbors house anymore?" - which they haven't in months - kids are sensitive. They didn't feel welcome. Don't look at her car? Don't wave? That's ridiculous. One year old's are just learning how to wave. It is exciting for them.
So how should I respond? Should I respond? Where is the boundary? Should I be concerned that she is going to report me to someone? Who? Your thoughts and ideas are appreciated, O wise metafilterites.