By Contributing Author Beth Sanborn of Far From Camelot
A Letter to My New Neighbors With Kids:
My son is a social butterfly. It’s my fault, really. When he was 3 months old, I went to work at the tennis club that my dad teaches at. I brought him with me every morning until noon when my shift was over. He was constantly bombarded with people going in and out. And they hung on his every coo! They saw every milestone he had and there wasn’t a day he didn’t want to be there. He loves being around people and chatting it up. He is the center of attention!
My son is equally independent. Always has been. He is so bull headed and stubborn that once he gets something in his mind to accomplish, he shuts out the rest of the world. That includes his parents telling him not to do something. It is frustrating to us. We have tried every punishment to get him to stop and listen. I have researched new tactics on how to deal with strong-willed boys, but nothing works consistently.
Imagine his luck when we moved into a new neighborhood last year and our next door neighbors reminded him of his grandparents that he misses. They play with him, give him bananas to eat, and shower him with every attention a three year old needs! Is it any wonder that he runs to their house to hang out because they’ve never put up any walls to keep him out. When my son is out back playing and he hears them, he goes running to say hello. He doesn’t run into the road, nor does he take off through the rest of the neighborhood. Just through the backyard to their front door, which is on the side of their house.
Now you, a family with kids, have moved into the house on the other side of us and my son was so happy to have some kids around his age to play with. When your kids play in your backyard, he likes to run and meet them every chance he gets. He is filled with joy and excitement to say hello and play! I understand if you didn’t appreciate him running into your yard, but our houses are steps apart from each other with no dividing fence and he’s only three years old. Part of the pitfalls of being an only child is loneliness. I should know, because I am one, too. With me, I became shy and introverted. He is different. Please cut him some slack.
Now that you, our new neighbors, know a little background of my family but yet haven’t spent any time with us to really get to know us, I’d like to give you some words of advice. Do not talk negatively about people behind their backs. Do not confront people based on what others have told you about them. Speak with the person you have issues with, first.
My husband did not deserve to be accosted with your hurtful words just as he was coming home from work. He did not fully understand why you told him he is a bad parent until he talked to our neighbor friends the next day. Please do not take an innocent situation of my son visiting next door and turn it into an epidemic of unsupervised parenting. I am the one that has 100% responsibility of our son during the day. You are well aware of this after the one day you decided to tell me your life story, barely showing any interest in mine. If you have issues with the way I parent then you can come talk to me, only. You know where I live.
I know that you talked with our new neighbor across the street because she promptly went to our neighbor friend with your shared conversation. Did you think it wouldn’t get back to me? We live in a small community. How many other people are sneering at me when I walk by? Again, I ask you to come speak with me, face to face, to relieve any false information you might have been told. I need to know that you won’t call the authorities if you think I’ve made one mistake with my son. I am now looking over my shoulder when we take our dog out for a walk, play in our backyard, or head down to the community pool/playground area. No one wants to feel on edge.
I don’t care if you ignore me but somehow it stings even more when you tell your kids to ignore mine. My son does not deserve your viciousness when he is not harming you in any way. Next time we are at the community pool/playground at the same time, don’t loudly announce to your friends that you are a good mom and no one should ever judge you. That makes you look like a hypocrite since you had no qualms judging me.
We will keep living our lives the way we want. We will keep raising our son in the way he should go. I feel sorry for you because you obviously need to get a hobby to keep you busy from gossip. Maybe your actions towards us hide some deep insecurities about your own lives. I will pray for you, I will stay away from you, but beware that I am a Momma Bear that will always defend her family.
The mother of tremendous Only Child
About the Author: I am a daughter, wife and stay-at-home mother to a 2 year old little boy. In my 3rd decade, balance and happiness have finally come into my life with a little help from my parents and a lot of help from my faith. I have been writing all my life but new to publishing. My first gig was contributing to a weekly mom’s advice column in a local online paper. I’m finding that blogging and all that the online community entails is where I need to be. Life has changed me but my passions have stayed the same; The South is my conditioning, history is what keeps my attention and Spring Training is what gets me through the winter. Visit her blog Far From Camelot
Photo of Neighborhood by M.V. Jantzen, found on Flickr