Monday, April 21, 2008

Don't Let the Door Hit Your Ass on the Way Out

Not to anybody here, of course.

When we moved into our house, there was much about it and the neighbourhood that we deemed perfect. It's a quiet little cul de sac, with the requisite dearth of traffic. There are bazillions of kids, most of them boys, which means Aidan and Brennan are outside and being active a whole lot. We like it.

A day or two after we moved in our neighbours to the right pulled up in their driveway and Smokey and I walked over to say hello. The man got out and did shake my hand (I can't remember his name right now), but his wife did not get out of the vehicle until I left. After brief introductions, the told me that he would appreciate it if I kept my dog on a leash.

All right. Duly noted. Although if I'm in my front yard, and I can keep my dog under control, I don't need to put her on a leash.

Anyhow. For months that was the only interaction I had with them. If we were out at the same time (rare), they wouldn't acknowledge me. But what they would acknowledge was the kids. If a ball landed on their lawn, the woman would come out and yell at them (any kids, not just ours) and sometimes would take the ball into her house, which required parental intervention. It got so bad that the boys were scared to play street hockey or basketball, even in their own driveway.

Things came to a head one day when a boy who was not from the street rode his bike up onto their driveway and back off immediately. When I cam outside moments later, ready to head out on an errand, she was out on her drive yelling at the kids, including my own.

I put down my bag and suggested that if there was a problem, perhaps she should consider dealing with an adult instead of threatening and harassing kids who, quite frankly, were only behaving like kids. Well, this resulted in a lengthy diatribe that touched on why couldn't the kids play in their own back yards, or perhaps at the area park, the extreme affront she took at them playing golf and baseball on the street (neither with a hard ball) and making so much noise, the sprinkler head they broke when retrieving a ball (thanks for the news - no one knew about hidden sprinklers until that very moment), and how the block was so much better when there had been no children. I have to say, I surprised myself with how patient I was with the woman, who by this time it was apparent was not a parent.

I pause now for a quick sketch of the block. At the far corner on our side lives a widow. Next house there's a young teenage girl and a boy about Aidan's age. Next is the scary couple, then us. Next is a couple, his daughter (also Aidan's age) living there part time. Then a house with two boys, one 13 and one 10. Then a retired couple, then another young teenage girl and a boy about Aidan's age. Then a boy a year older than Aidan, a girl a couple years younger than Brennan, and a pre-school boy. Then a pre-school boy, but also three other boys who live with their father there half time (but also they only live a couple of blocks away with their mom, so they're by all the time), then an older teenage boy, then two young girls (that house is for sale), then a boy Aidan's age, and he has two older siblings.

Plus all the kids who come from everywhere else, because it's such a cool block and so easy to play on the street and stay safe.

Well, it drove the neighbours nuts, enough so that they sold and are moving out today. But the funny thing about it is they didn't want us to know, or else (and this is Jo's suspicion, and probably a safe bet) the woman has some severe phobias. No sign went up, no ad was placed, but we did see a realtor's vehicle there and later a home inspection vehicle. But it was all hush-hush. They wanted no gawkers, did not want to give up an ounce of control by allowing strangers to come see their house all willy nilly.

And so, today the neighbourhood is celebrating. We hope it's a good and fun family moving in.

Surprising Update: Turns out they didn't sell the house. They have indeed moved, but there's a sign up on the lawn today. Which is interesting. I hope for their sakes they have no mortgage, since even these folks elicit my sympathy (combined with awe over such stupidity) if they have to cover two mortgages now.

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Here's hoping they've found some remote air raid shelter to live in, so the rest of neighborhood can relax and enjoy life.

Maybe you should gather up all the neighborhood kids and dogs (off-leash, of course) to give them a farewell party. On their lawn.
Hurrah! I hope she's found a nice quiet hermitage and that you get a kid-friendly new neighbor.
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