Monday, July 2, 2012

Isn't there something about good fences?

My daughter has a friend who is our next door neighbor. They moved in this past winter and live right behind us. At first it was nice. Sweet One didn't have much for little girls to play with so I was happy for her to have the opportunity and her parents seemed very tickled that their daughter had someone to play with, too.

My backyard. You can't see NK's house but it is right behind that large tree.

The girls didn't really play together until spring came along and it was easy for NK (neighbor kid) to come over and play. We found it a little strange over the first week or two when the parents didn't come over and introduce themselves but we continued to let Sweet and NK play, feeding them oranges whenever NK asked for them. Eventually we met the parents. They stopped over and checked to make sure everything was ok and then disappeared into their house again. A hello there, a short chat here but in the end, they seemed to have no problem allowing their daughter to come and play with people they barely knew. I decided to get through the summer and then things would change once NK starts kindergarten in the fall. For the most part they play quite well together. Sweet One adores NK.

Over passed few weeks things have become more and more frustrating for me. NK is spoiled. It's obvious. She manipulates Sweet One by being rude, pouting and standing just inside her property line while she pretends to go home. This leaves Sweet One screaming and completely heartbroken for a few minutes until NK decides to return as if she is the most important person in the world. A few days ago I looked over and the girls were pretending to beat Little Man with our toy fishing rods because he was being 'mean'. I almost lost my shit. There is no doubt in my mind where that idea came from because Sweet One has never accused him of anything like that before.

NK is also starting to get rude to me. Maybe it's not exactly rude but it is definitely disrespectful. She likes to pretend that what an adult says to her isn't important and that she doesn't have to listen to it by looking away, not listening and covering her ears. The world please escapes her vocabulary every time she asks for help or something to eat or drink. (When I do bring her water to drink, since that is what my children are drinking, she goes home and returns with a bottle/can of root beer or another crap-ass sugary drink that isn't going provide any nutrition at all.)

Yesterday I was enjoying some time in the backyard, tending the garden with the help of Sweet One and Little Man when NK came out and our whole agenda had to change. She wanted Sweet One to play in the kiddie pool. Fine. I won't fight that. It took her less than 5 minutes to get Sweet One crying and ten minutes later she was crying again because she got nailed in the head with her toy fishing rod. A few drops started falling from the sky which I used as an opportunity to say that it was time to go inside. Sweet One didn't even fight it that much. NK told me that she's allowed to go in the pool whenever she wants, with a huge side of attitude.

I hate it that I now feel like I have to plan to leave my house and my yard to avoid 'volunteering' my babysitting services. The 'play dates' have become more frequent lately, sometimes twice a day, and I wish I could put up a fence so that we could have a little privacy. I don't want to feel constantly invaded by a little girl whose parents are "doing the dishes" or "cleaning the litter boxes ... all four of them" and then disappear into a house not to be seen again. I would like my backyard to feel like my own private space but without a fence, that isn't going to happen. This is going to be a long few summer months.

I've vented to a few friends, both of whom have mentioned that there should be absolutely no problem with me setting boundaries and rules when I am the only parent outside - especially if the play is happening in my backyard. I would expect this of my friends just as they would of me if I were watching their kids. If NK doesn't like it, she will not be allowed to play. I may have to talk to her mom about this but I will not continue to allow her to teach Sweet One the behavior that I've been watching over the past few weeks. How is it possible to teach a kid how to behave around people, if the parents are never there to watch it? 

This afternoon we are going to NK's birthday party. The only one excited about it is Sweet One so Big Love and I've found an excuse for us to be late but we really hope it doesn't go too long. Maybe there will be beer. It might take the edge off!


  1. We debate the meaning of "good fences make good neighbors" a lot in our house. I think it means that, in situations like yours, fences can sometimes help set appropriate boundaries. My husband says it means the only good neighbor is a fence so we should move somewhere where the nearest neighbor is far, far away. Interesting look inside different brains!

  2. That's exactly it! You totally nailed it for me with the "appropriate boundaries". Luckily we've been busy over the past few days and haven't seen much of NK. However, it has involved me planning to be away from our house which sucks.


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