Friday, July 18, 2008


When we moved in here, the neighbors were far from welcoming.

My one neighbor was really nosy and called me long distance at my old house, before we ever moved in, to express concerns she had about my children's behaviors, never mind the fact that her son shot my daughter in the eye with a rubber band gun. She told my kids they weren't allowed to play with her family because they were having "family time." When I was a kid, if someone's mom or dad was outside, they played with ALL the kids equally; they didn't send other kids home because of "spending time as a family."

It nearly broke my heart to watch my two youngest stand along the property line, hoping to be included when my neighbor's kids played with another neighbor's kids, and being ignored, or worse yet, told "no" when they asked if they could come over. When Rocky came home and said, "I don't know what's wrong with me that she won't let her kids play with me", I broke my rule about not badmouthing another adult around my children. I hurried to tell him it wasn't him. There was something wrong with the neighbor that she made us the usurpers, miscreants, lepers, unwelcome ones.

I strongly suspect the dislike, or perhaps lack of comfort, is because EG is Mexican and two of the kids are African American. I have always viewed this as a convenient excuse, but several comments the neighbor, who has told me she is a Christian, has made has made me aware that she is not the type of person who handles differences well because she has preconceived notions about people, which is sad.

What pretty much clinched it is she put her house up for sale three weeks after we moved in. Unfortunately, it didn't sell. Most likely, our kind brought the property values down.

Anyway, being realistic that the neighbors weren't going to include us for barbecues and bonfires and evenings on the deck, and certainly not welcome the kids into their yard or home, we bought our kids a pool. Not large, and certainly not roomy enough for all five of us at once. Each day, the kids will spend two or three hours in the water, making up games and splashing around and teaching themselves the physics of swimming. Plus, they sleep so well at night.

What is sad is that neighbor kids will come outside in their bathing suits, obviously hoping for an invitation. They are nice children, and certainly should not be punished for their mother's attitudes and abrasive personality, but I cannot bring myself to invite them. I don't want to hear the excuses, the criticisms, the probing questions which even the kids have learned to dodge. I don't want to have any phone calls after the fact, telling me who did what to whom and why this is a bad thing.

The last few days have been over 90 degrees, and I feel so sorry for those kids, who have been with their grandparents all day while their mother works. I know that they would find a dip in the pool refreshing and fun, and they also would welcome time with other kids. However, I am taking care of myself and my kids--I guess this is what neighbor thinks her motives are, too. So I wonder--am I any less a good person because of it?


Reverend Mom said...

We all protect our kids. That's what mothers do. Our kids are made to feel different by too many people to go seeking out the experience. Some people send us into what Daughter and I refer to as "Mama Bear mode." Don't mess with Mama Bear.

Munchkin Mom said...

"Our kids are made to feel different by too many people to go seeking out the experience."

Ah, thank you for this wise statement.

I guess I'm of the "Why can't we all just get along" mentality.