View from a porch swing. Thoughts of "the mean old lady next door"
We have taken to sitting on our front porch swing every single night to watch the neighborhood kids play. Not because we want to, but because they do not respect boundaries and this is the only way we can think of to get them to learn to respect our property line. Well, now I’ve been called “the mean old lady next door” to my face by the children, but am I really?
Backing up a bit to late last year. New renters next door with three children. Okay, no problem because all the other renters who had lived next door with children over the last ten years had been reasonably polite and considerate. Sure, you had the occasional noise, but that’s to be expected. But these new renters were a bit different. The trash piled up more and more, and the smell wafted over to our yard, but the trash pickup truck just passed them by for months. Then came the basketball hoop. Yay. I am extremely sensitive to repetitive noise, so I was not rejoicing, but I said nothing, because after all, it was their yard.
Soon, numerous kids ages nine to teenage that I did not recognize were coming to join the game for hours on end every single day because it was the fun house where there were no rules and no supervision. It was not just one basketball dribbling anymore, but three or four at a time constantly. But still I said nothing and put up with it. And then it was my yard that they started congregating in. The two utility boxes that sit in front of my living room window were the preferred seats for the younger kids, and my young Maple tree was right there, so why not climb it? Doesn’t matter that it’s not healthy and being climbed isn’t good for it. Balls were chased through our yard and would hit our house and fence. Bikes were ridden through our yard. Beer bottles were thrown over our back fence.
I even found a syringe in my front yard. My privacy was gone, and I was stressed all the time. Now this is (was) a nice neighborhood, so then I finally did say something. I politely asked them to stop riding their bikes through our lawn. I politely asked them to stay off of the utility boxes and off our tree. They’d say, “yes, ma’am” and then proceed to do whatever they wanted. I then appealed to the mother, who asserted that “kids have to play”. Yeah, sure, but not in my yard they don’t. I went to the HOA for help, but they didn’t feel like enforcing their regulations, so I put up a no trespassing sign and told them that they were no longer welcome in my yard if they couldn’t respect my wishes, which helped very little. I did not want to be liable for the injury that was bound to happen so I wrote the landlord for help, but nothing changed. I’ve hesitated to involve the Sheriff over the trespassing, even though I’m a “mean old lady” I have no desire to traumatize the younger children, so I’m feeling pretty powerless.
So, am I a mean old lady for wanting some peace and privacy in my own yard? Apparently I am, because from what I’m hearing, children are entitled to do what they want, and anyone that puts any limits on them is selfish. No matter that these children are taught no respect for others’ boundaries by parents who probably grew up with no boundaries. They shouldn’t have to have boundaries or discipline because they are “just children”. I’ve been advised to make cookies and invite them in and make friends with the children. I don’t think so. I’m already intimidated by them, and I have no desire to reward the bad behavior of a group of boys, most of whom I do not know.
Everywhere I look online, the advice is to get used to the noise, and let the children play where they want to because if you don’t, you’re not a nice person. No matter if your personality is introvert and the noise gives you a headache, get over it and change your personality because kids have rights and you don’t, and if you don’t realize that, you’re evil because “do you want them to play inside all the time?”
Okay, but speed ahead ten years and see where they children will be, and what they will be like. Some parents are great and care about teaching their children the tools that they will require in life, and those children have the advantage. But some parents do not want to be bothered with actually having to supervise and discipline children, and some have no idea of how to control them. But they are doing their children no service by not teaching them respect of others and their boundaries. Sooner or later someone is going to challenge them on it, and they will have no idea on how to react or cope. They will have no idea on how to respect others’ boundaries.
Discipline does not mean beating your child when they get on your nerves too much, it is teaching them in the way to go. For my situation, the mother could have taken advantage of my request for her to keep the children off of my property with discipline, which would have taught them some valuable lessons in respect. This would have helped them in their future. Or better yet, she could have been supervising them all along and making sure that they were being respectful of another’s property. But instead, the lesson they learned is that it’s okay to be disrespectful of others.
So, if I have to be “the mean old lady” so be it. I refuse to feel guilty over it. It’s a shame, but in this age of entitlement, respect for your elders has gone out the window. No way the children can have respect if the parents don’t. I am not the only one who is tired of it all, my neighbors and I are banding together with a petition to the HOA so they will finally enforce their own regulations. And in the meantime, I sit on my porch swing and perfect my mean old lady voice and look. They have no idea of how persistent I can be. With any luck, the kids that come over to play ball will decide it’s not so fun to play with the “mean old lady” watching the game and go home. This could be a long fall.