who could resist a baby animal?
July 18, 2010 5:10 PM   Subscribe

How can I politely inform my neighbor that we would like some advance notice on visits?

My neighbor has a very cute little girl who is in love with our very cute little baby animals, and they've been showing up unannounced to come play with them. It was fine at first, but it has been happening quite a bit. We are new to the area, so we are not sure how the previous dynamic worked with the former tenant. We really like the child and the parents, so we don't want to be rude! What would be a good way to politely ask them to call before coming over?
posted by 200burritos to Human Relations (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd just say something like:

"Hey, could you give me a ring before you come over? Gives me a moment to pick up and get things ready!"

Depends, I suppose, on how much notice you're looking for though.
posted by Rendus at 5:13 PM on July 18, 2010

Well, a soft way to do it might be to be "unavailable" the next (few) time(s) they come over and suggest that they call ahead to make sure you're free before coming over.

But that might be too subtle. I don't think it would be rude to be direct and say what you just said: "hey we love it when you guys come over, but can you call ahead first to make sure it's a good time?"
posted by danny the boy at 5:16 PM on July 18, 2010

Are you just hoping for notice, or that they'll ask for permission.

When I was in a situation I said to the child, "Oh, it was nice of you to come but I'm just about to leave. Why don't you call me this evening to see if I'm home?" It worked for a bit, but the perps were my landlady and her daughter, and her daughter finally just stole the key and let herself in.

But barring crazy like that, it might go a ways towards establishing a boundary. If it doesn't work, say more directly to the parent, "I like having Kiddo play with my pets, but please call ahead next time you'd like to come by." Then, set an example by calling them before stopping by for something (drop off a book, walking a puppy?). Good luck
posted by motsque at 5:19 PM on July 18, 2010

This sounds a little bit like an ask vs guess problem -- I'd assume that the girl's family is an asking family. It's ok to say no! It's not rude! They're, I'm sure, expecting you to say no if it's a problem. And it's also not rude to say exactly what danny the boy suggested: "hey we love it when you guys come over, but can you call ahead first to make sure it's a good time?." Again, this is not even sort of a tiny bit rude. Saying no is OK!
posted by brainmouse at 5:20 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think if you're just straightforward about it, and let them know you're happy to have them, but want to make sure you're available and ready to receive them (i.e., decent, place picked up, no other company), they should understand.
posted by xingcat at 5:24 PM on July 18, 2010

They're, I'm sure, expecting you to say no if it's a problem.

Yeah I totally agree. Next time they knock, answer the door with a genuine smile and say, "Oh hi there! Now's not a very good time to visit the animals. Do you mind coming back another time? Here's our number, give us a call anytime to see if we're free."
posted by hermitosis at 5:33 PM on July 18, 2010 [6 favorites]

Well, drat. There's a kiddee involved. That shoots down my suggestion (answer the door in the nude, then apologize, and say you didn't have time to get dressed when the doorbell rang).
posted by galadriel at 5:47 PM on July 18, 2010

Honesty might be a good policy here. Is it just that it's annoying, or is there a particular reason (something they're interrupting, maybe?) that it's inconveniencing you? Next time they come by, just say, "Hey, I love having you two over, but I've been really busy with X lately, so we might have to cut down on visits for a bit. Would you mind giving me a ring before you stop by?" You might want to think about how much you'd ideally want to have them visiting, and suggest that you guys schedule a time that works for both of you so you can get X done around that.
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:10 PM on July 18, 2010

Ack kids. One the minus side you probably care enough to tred very carefully on little feelings here. On the plus side, you can spin this really easily because, you know, the person we're spinning for is four years old.

Put an invitation to the child in the post box. Kids love mail and invitations are special. Invite this child to come over for a bunny tea party or whatever you can come up with on Saturday at 2 pm or whenever is convenient with you.

A bunny tea party, by the way, is juice in plastic cups and some bunny cookies when you're four years old. This is not a big deal.

Include a note with your phone number for the mother, saying "Dear Roz, We love having Rachel come over to visit the animals and look forward to seeing you Saturday if you can make it. You're welcome to call us any time to arrange other visits. Best, The Burritos."

Basically, I would avoid barring them at the door which is... inhospitable and could be very upsetting for a kid. Instead I would extend an explicit and happy invitation to the child and include a note for the mother encouraging her to call re other occassions.

You can do that any number of ways, I just happen to like bunny tea parties.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:22 PM on July 18, 2010 [17 favorites]

If you're comfortable enough with the parents, how about just explain that you might be doing some adult stuff that they probably wouldn't want their little girl to be surprised by or start asking questions about, but if they can just ring ahead you're happy to get presentable and make sure that the door to the S&M dungeon is closed and locked. (Or probably something much less salacious of course, but you get the idea.)
posted by XMLicious at 6:30 PM on July 18, 2010

I'd be tempted to say, "I'm sorry, it's not a good time, I'm in the middle of something/I'm just on the way out. But I know you love to play with the animals and they love playing with you too. Hey, mother-of-child, how about we make a regular time for you to bring Offspring over? Say, every Wednesday at 4pm?"

And then whenever they turned up NOT at the agreed time, I'd be very apologetic that I'm too busy or the aniright now. Every time.

But then I don't do assertiveness or confrontation very well (oh, ain't THAT the understatement of the year).
posted by malibustacey9999 at 6:36 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

The daughter might be running the show, not giving in with the mom until they come over, so it might be helping out the mom to put some boundaries on the issue.
posted by Edward L at 7:18 PM on July 18, 2010

Personally, if I don't want a visit, I don't answer the door. Just because someone knocks at your door doesn't meat that you are obliged to open it.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:35 PM on July 18, 2010 [9 favorites]

I don't think proposing a standing cute-animal-playdate lacks assertiveness at all, malibustacey! I think it's a great idea! It gives the neighbor kid something to look forward to every week, and sets a clear boundary with the neighbor parent. You can totally frame it as a positive ("I know I have free time on Sundays to supervise an animal playdate") rather than a negative ("I don't want your kid to come over at random"). Then, if the kid or her mom asks for time with the animals on a different day, you can go case by case, saying yes or no depending on how you're feeling/scheduled, or you can put your foot down firmly and tell the parent that you can't accomodate spur of the moment visits ever, but remind him/her that you're free Sundays.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:34 PM on July 18, 2010

In the galadriel/doublehappy vein, I was going to suggest leaving out something highly inappropriate, possibly even dangerous for kids. Broken glass, huge pile of porn, several opened half-drunk bottles of whiskey... and the next time the kid and parent come over, apologize and say, "Gee, maybe you should give me a little warning next time..."

Also, what 5_13_etc. said.
posted by Etrigan at 5:07 AM on July 19, 2010

I agree with a few people up thread, next time they come simple say, "Sorry i'm busy. Maybe you can call me next time. Here is my number."
posted by chunking express at 10:29 AM on July 19, 2010

I didn't remember this story until reading galadriel and doublehappy's comment, but this exact thing happened in reverse to some people I babysit for. This kid's parents often let her drag them into random apartments if the hallway doors are open, and her mother especially would just walk on in and apologize to the residents when they were already inside.


one day, the little girl dragged her mother into an apartment of their lovely neighbors who have two cats. The girl stoops down to pet a kitty while the mom turns around to find one of the neighbors masturbating to porn on the television, unaware that he's being watched. The neighbor's partner emerges from the bathroom, turns bright red, and rushes the girl and her mom out of the door. Things have been really awkward between the two parties ever since.

After that faux pas, the mother makes sure to knock politely on all doors, even ones left partially open, before letting her toddler drag her inside.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:39 AM on July 19, 2010

Saying, "could you call first, just to make sure we're at home?" might do it. Especially if you don't answer the door every single time she comes over*.

* Note: this only works if you have a home setup where it's not glaringly obvious that you're in there, i.e. the lights are on and it's night outside, you always park your car outside, etc.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:40 PM on July 19, 2010

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