Ummm...Please Don't Steal My Craziness...Okay? Thanks!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Neighbor Love

Neighbors.  They are quite wonderful most of the time.  We are sharing a CSA with one of them.  I might teach the son of another.  They are helpful, nice, resourceful, and pleasant.

They watch out for the Crazies.  They talk to the Crazies.  They ask questions.  They share advice.  They ask us to do things for them while they're away.  I love all of these things about neighbors.

There is a set of twins across the street.  They are lovely.  They play with M&H and include them in all sorts of things and I love it.  They love it.  They feel like they have two older siblings built in.  Their mother knows so many people in the community and is very open with her house.  She doesn't mind have kids in and out all day long.  She keeps an open door policy.  Kids don't have to knock to enter her house.  She's much more laid back about that than I am.

I believe in boundaries.  I believe in calling adults by Mr./Mrs./Ms. and their last name.  I believe in knocking before you enter someone's house.  I believe in being invited over to swim in someone's pool.  I believe in general consideration and manners.  I can't be alone in this.

I expect the Crazies to act accordingly.  I expect them to be polite in the absence of my presence.  I expect them to respect boundaries (such a closed doors).  I expect them to allow me to pee without having a full-fledged conversation.  Sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesn't.  It's all still a matter of training with them though as they are not quite 6 years old.  There is still work to be done and lessons to be learned.

The Crazies always want to go across the street.  They always want to swim in their pool.  They always want to be over there and I'm fine with a point.

I don't want the neighbors to think that I just allow my kids over there and have someone else constantly taking care of them or that I'm neglecting my duties as parents.  I don't want the Crazies to think that it's okay to spend their entire Summer over there.  I don't want them to walk into someone's house without knocking (even though they've been told there are no boundaries at Mrs. B's house).  I don't want them to be without boundaries...because at 5.75 years old, no boundaries can create habits that are not very nice in kids who are suddenly 12 years old.

The other thing that gives me pause is that there are constantly people working on their house.  I don't trust people.  It's as simple as that.  I don't care if you've been working in this town forever and have a stellar reputation.  I don't trust you.  So, when the Crazies are running around the streets (which is fine as it is Summer and I'm not completely against fun) and I see them talking to someone across the street (who I can't see), I'm going to call them in.  You see...above all, my number one job is to keep my kids safe and when there are work people at your house and I can't see who my kid is talking to. she's coming inside.  Overprotective?  Possibly.  My prerogative?  Absolutely.

So, you see...I love neighbors AND I love boundaries.  How can I find the perfect balance while not seeming like an uptight snob or a mother that lets her kids run wild around the neighborhood?  How can I express my boundary expectations without making it seem like I'm judging someone else's lack of boundaries and the effect it's having on their children?  How can I keep my kids slightly under my wing while still letting them be under someone else's?  So many quandaries...I must work on that this Summer.


Amy said...

I'm going to have to think about how you approach your neighbors. I understand your hesitancy about strangers.

Denise said...

Everyone has different perspectives on how to best raise their kids. We live in a neighborhood that can very much create a false sense of security and kids often have the run of the neighborhood. It is hard to find a balance, but I think the key is to uphold your own rules and boundaries while respecting that other parents have different rules and boundaries and trying not to judge. Don't worry about others judging you-you know what us best for your kids-and distance yourself from those who will judge you.

WicketsMom said...

I am having some of the same issues with my seven year old. We are lucky to live in a neighborhood with several kids his age, who mostly like to play outside. (I am not a fan of kids being glued to a screen and we have very limited screen time for him.) We have a rule that he must ask to go to someone else's house, and if they change and go somewhere else from there he has to come back and let us know where he will be. All of these houses are within sight of ours, and they all have the same limits on how far they can go on their bikes.

He knows to knock, but I wish one of his friends did as well. Many times I hear the door alarm beep, then find his friend wandering aimlessly through our house, or taking a toy outside that doesn't belong outside. I am afraid that he will end up letting one of our dogs out when he does this.

We are a little more relaxed on how to address adults. Everyone around here uses Mr/Mrs/Ms and then first name instead of last.

I did make the mistake of letting him ride to the pool with a neighbor the other day. He told me when he got back that they were all just standing in the van, no seatbelts since there were so many of them. I was NOT happy, even though it is just at the end of the road and easily walkable, you do have to cross a somewhat busy road where people often speed. We know now what parent he will never be allowed to ride with again!

Now if I could get my mother-in-law to understand that a closed door means knock before entering.... very glad she lives in another city and visits rarely.

Cheryl Lage said...

"I believe in boundaries. I believe in calling adults by Mr./Mrs./Ms. and their last name. I believe in knocking before you enter someone's house. I believe in being invited over to swim in someone's pool. I believe in general consideration and manners. I can't be alone in this."

You are SO not alone in that! It is getting harder and harder we are finding with the variety of boundaries/guidelines and explaining the differences to our now nearly-teen twins. We've simply said (and repeated!) "This is what works best for OUR family...and others have what works best for theirs." We're cool sharing that with fellow parents who ask about our "old-school" ways. :)

It's going okay so far...but no, you are NOT alone!

Barbara Manatee said...

I love these thoughts. It also makes me miss the neighborhood i grew up in - sounds very similar. We were in and out of friends houses all the time but back then - there was definitely different rules and expectations than some people have today.

I'm just thankful for a few decent neighbors now. We're semi-rural so we aren't in a neighborhood but we had some doozies for neighbors the past few years. Thankfully 2 houses now have decent people in them and 2 others are empty. Not great but better than crazy people in them! I keep hoping someone will move in next door once they get it fixed up and will have kids around our kids' age. Fingers crossed!