Won’t You Not Be My Neighbor?

14 Jul

The word “neighbor” has always been one that I have associated with warm and fuzzy feelings of a trusting world in an era gone by. I think of baked cookies, night games, Mr. Rogers and “Hi-dee-ho neighbor Tim.” Neighbors are one of the things that I most looked forward to when Husband and I purchased our house seven years ago. We live in a newer suburban development, and at the time ours was one of the only houses up. For a while it was almost lonely. As our neighborhood has developed, though, I’m glad to say that we’ve turned into quite the happy little community. For the longest time our little stretch of road only had six houses on it. There are six children scattered amongst these houses and together as a block we’ve watched them learn to ride bikes, helped them build snowmen, and purchased crap items from their fundraisers. Recently, however, the last two houses on our street have gone up and owners have moved in. I haven’t yet met the occupants of one of these houses, but the new couple (in their late 20s, early 30s) that moved into the other… Well, let’s just say they don’t seem to fit into the general atmosphere that’s been created in our neighborhood.

Cases in point:

  • Their first week in the neighborhood I told the woman that her dogs were adorable. She said, “Yeah,” and walked away.
  • When we wave while driving or walking past their house they do not wave back.
  • While on a walk my son (4yo) stopped to throw a ball for their dogs. I asked the woman if it bothered her that he was playing with her dogs and she said it did.
  • My 4yo who is just learning to ride his bike with training wheels used the bottom of her driveway to turn around. She asked him not to go in her driveway.

Husband and I are really bothered by their (especially her) behavior. Not letting my son turn around in her driveway is particularly irritating to both myself and Husband. Her house is at the end of our block, which means it marks the limit of where he’s allowed to bike to on his own. He has to turn around when he reaches her house. The sidewalk isn’t wide enough for him to turn around in without either going in her driveway or her grass, unless he were to get off of his bike, pick it up and manually turn it around. Kind of an inconvenience for a boy of four.

And that there is the clincher. It is inconvenient and annoying. But are the things these neighbors are doing criminal? No. Is she perfectly within her right as an American property owner to do and say these things? Yes. But they just seem so unfriendly and unnecessarily rude. Bitching Complaining about this led to quite a spirited debate (as all the best ones are) between Bestie, Husband and myself last night. Do you have a social obligation to be nice to your neighbors? A series of random events brought you together to live in the same neighborhood, but does that somehow make it your duty to be friendly to them? To keep a patient and watchful eye on their children? To smile and wave at these people who are otherwise strangers?

The short answer, as Bestie and I argued, is no. But wouldn’t the world be a happier place if we all did it anyway?

As for our particular situation, I plan on handling it like a true Minnesotan – by being passive aggressive. Specifically, she will soon be receiving a plate full of cookies from yours truly with a note thanking her for letting Child use her driveway to be safe while biking. You’re in my neighborhood now, *****.

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