Almost every neighborhood has one. You know, the annoying neighbor who is always looking out the front windows and watching the children play, "stick war" or "hostage." If this neighbor feels the kids are too rough, this neighbor will yell from the porch for the shenanigans to stop--even though it is in someone else's yard. This neighbor is always on the lookout for the car that is driving a little too slowly through the neighborhood, and stares at the person driving from the front porch. This neighbor yells, "Where's your helmet, Joey?" when Joey drives his ATV without a helmet down the street. This same neighbor reports other neighbors to the HOA when their dogs bark outside in the freezing cold at all hours of the day and night . Based on my description, one would think that this utter crab ass is Mr.Wilson from, "Dennis the Menace."
Apparently, I am the Mr. Wilson of my neighborhood.
It should be noted that Corey and I have completely hit the lottery as far as neighborhoods are concerned. Up until now, we have only made friends with one set of neighbors out of the countless places we have lived in 15 years. However, I can honestly say that we like almost all 30 families in our neighborhood (with a few exceptions.) Bottom line: almost all of our neighbors are really good people. I can give you an example: Last Friday, I was stuck at the gyno for more than two hours. I was in a panic because I needed to pick up my daughter from school at 3:25, it was 2:45, I was 30 minutes away from school and I hadn't even gotten into the paper robe yet. I placed one call to my neighbor Carrie and asked her if it was her turn to carpool a group of kids home from school. Even though it wasn't, she made a series of calls to the moms of the neighborhood, and picking up Ella from school was a done deal. Not a problem.
I can give you another example: our neighbor, who is coaching a t-ball team, was kind enough to draft Ella for his team. Even after he saw her try out. He did it because his wife told him to. His team won the championship last year. Now that is just plain neighborly. I have never experienced that in a neighborhood before and I like it. I love it. I love my neighborhood.
So why am I Mr. Wilson? Good question. First of all, I freely admit that I am an uptight Yankee. I previously parented in New Jersey, PA and Ohio. In these places, parents sometimes participated in the, "forced fun play dates." These were tightly controlled scenarios where children were only allowed to play in an enclosed area that the parents could scan every square inch. Children are not allowed to even THINK about leaving their yards until they are 10 because the world is a big scary place.
Our new neighborhood is an entirely different world. I am not sure if it is indicative of Tennessee or not, but the children in our neighborhood roam the streets like packs of wild animals. And when I say children, I mean children as young as three years old. Our first week in the new house, I was startled by a large gang of kids who were in the middle of our street. Four boys were on bikes, the others on foot. Then came an ATV, ridden by a boy without a helmet. I ran to the back of the house and stuttered to my husband, "Wwwwwhhhere have you moved us? There are children. Middle of the street. Playing. No Helmets. Death. OhmyGOD!"
It has taken several months to get comfortable with the idea of Ella gallivanting in the neighborhood the way the other kids do. While I love the fact that these kids are outside playing the way I did as a kid, I am still nervous. I so want my kids to have a carefree childhood, where they explore and have adventures. It's just that I want their adventures to happen in our yard. I am trying to let go and give Ella freedom, but it is difficult.
The dirt bikes and ATVs, however, absolutely drive me nuts. No one has enough yard to properly ride them, so they take them to the streets. Only one child wears a helmet. I worry every day that the other kids are going to get hurt--especially when I see one kid on the ATV with another one standing behind him on the seat, covering his eyes so he can't see where he is driving. I did a whole lot of yelling from my porch on that one.
I never actually worried about Ella getting hurt because she is afraid of anything that moves. She doesn't even like riding her bike because she's afraid. So to see her standing on an ATV on Tuesday and driving it down the street without a helmet made me absolutely lose.my.shit. After screaming for her to get in the house and go to her room , I realized that I couldn't actually punish her because I have never told her that she couldn't ride an ATV. And as far as driving it standing up, she was only doing what all the other kids were doing.
The other issue that has totally turned me into the neighborhood Mr. Wilson pertains to a certain family a few doors down. They were nice enough to introduce themselves to me the first couple of weeks we were here. They are pastors of a church and have a teenager. Once they said they were pastors I was immediately on guard, thinking they would recruit. Once I found out that their church services are done only in Spanish, I realized that they wouldn't not be knocking on my door and inviting me to services. What is bothering me about them is their dogs. They have a dachshund who frequently escapes the house. Instead of catching him, they leave him to freeze (this has happened four times since November that I know of.) Did I mention that he barks nonstop?
After the latest debacle with their barking dog, I finally reported them to the HOA last week and a letter was going to their home. The next time it happens, I will call animal control. These people obviously shouldn't own dogs if they aren't prepared to chase them down the street at 7:00 AM.
I am trying to relax. I really am. It's just that it isn't working.