Yes, it is!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Neighbor Drama

In all the years that I have owned a home, I have rarely encountered problems with neighbors.  In fact, I have been very blessed with good neighbors.  But lately, I have been feeling a little stressed about the drama going on between the neighbors on either side of me.  And I do not like the feeling of being an unwilling participant in the drama.
A few months ago, the house on the west side of us was rented out to a very nice family.  The family includes 2 daughters, one of whom is 11 years old. (I'll call her A) The other little girl is just 2 years old.  The family is also military.  They spend a lot of time outside and are very friendly and don't hesitate to talk to us. 
The neighbors to the east of us were really good neighbors when we moved into this house nearly 2 1/2 years ago.  The younger girl, T, is 8 years old (18 months older than Jackie), and she and Jackie hit it off right away.  It was so nice that Jackie had a playmate right next door.  But, as time went on, I noticed that Jackie seemed to be more whiny and would cry more often while and after playing with T.  I learned that T had some struggles but I didn't want that to be the force that would prevent my children from playing with T.  So, I just continued to monitor while the kids played and I had no problem reminding or even reprimanding T whenever she started to step out of bounds.  I really tried to work with T to be a better playmate.  I know what it felt like to be an outcast as a kid and I didn't want T to feel like that in my home.  I wanted T to feel welcome  and loved in my home.  And she seemed to respond well to me whenever I had to intervene.  T's mother and I seemed to have a good relationship and we would share what was going on in the relationship between our girls.  I really liked having these people as neighbors.  But lately, I have been wondering about it.  When Spring/Summer rolled around and the kids started getting out more, I had no problem with T coming inside my home to play.  But I started to notice that whenever Jackie asked if she could play over at T's house, the answer was no because their house was a mess.  Whatever.  It's not as if a little 6-year was going over there to critique the state of their home.  And plus, T always helped to leave Jackie's bedroom and my living room in disarray.  That started to get old.  It didn't matter if I reminded everyone to clean up after they make a mess, T always seemed to suddenly have to leave before taking time to clean up.  I finally told T that Jackie was limited to having one friend inside and if somebody else was already over, then they would all have to play outside.  So, when T started to become good friends and playing more with the 11-year neighbor, I was sort of relieved because it meant less whining and crying from Jackie.  Jackie and Ben were already good friends with the kids across the street and they played so much nicer when T was not there.. 
Unfortunately, the friendship between T and A started to deteriorate after a short time.  Unfortunately, knowing the history of one of the girls, I can understand why the relationship went under.  But I also am not going to take sides. I like and care for both of these girls.  If it involved my own child, then of course, I would get involved.  But I could totally understand why A's mom refused to let her daughter play with T any longer. But, I am not going to stop being friendly to either mother just because their girls are not allowed to play with each other.  Whenever I am outside and if I see both girls outside, I just monitor the situation, especially if either one tries to involve my daughter, which has occurred.  My little girl, who is not even 7, has been told by one of the girls that if she talks to the other girl, then she will no longer be her friend.  I had a little chat with this girl and told her that she will not be permitted to give my much younger daughter an ultimatum.  I am the mother and I am the one who will give ultimatums. 
A couple of weeks ago, we had a situation such that Tim came inside from mowing the lawn, to ask me to call Jackie in.  It appears that one of the girls was trying to start drama again by trying to get Jackie involved in the conflict between these 2 older girls.  Gah!  I just didn't know what to do as I have never been faced with this until recently.  So, I called Jackie in and explained to her that she is not to listen to T or to A whenever they try to get her to take sides.  Of course, I explained it on her level.  I also reminded her that she is friends with both of these girls but that it was rude to start out playing/riding bikes with A, only to run over to T when T called Jackie over.   Already, my daughter is being told her she can be friends with and Mama Bear is coming out.  It was quite stressful for me because I want to keep my relationships intact with both neighbors even though I have felt a decline with T's family.  I think the reason for that is because I will no longer use their older daughter to babysit for reasons that I am sure they are very aware of.  
The other neighbor girl, A, came over later to see if Jackie would ride her bike with her.  Sure, no problem.  I explained to A that I don't want Jackie involved in any of these older girls' conflicts to which A readily agreed.  Interestingly, I have never had a problem with A being inappropriate with my children.  I told A that she was also welcome at our home but that if T was also there, I wanted them to at least be cordial to each other.  A was in total agreement. 
So, tonight, all the neighbor kids were outside playing and riding bikes.  It was a beautiful evening.  Another neighbor came walking by with her cute little dog and she stopped to chat with me and A's mom.  A's little sister was also out there with us.  T was also riding her bike around.  Then all the kids decided to play in the front yard.  My kids, the kids across the street, A and her sister, and T.  My front yard was milling with activity.  After a few moments, I noticed T leave but didn't think anything of it until a few moments later.  My neighbor and I were still chatting with the dog-walking neighbor when I heard T's mom yell something to T, who was back in my yard.  Then I noticed A and her sister come walking back toward where I was still chatting.  I could see by the look on A's face that something was wrong so I stepped over to where the other kids were and noticed they were all eating popsicles.  All except A and her sister.  A's sister had already started to cry.  When I asked who brought the popsicles over, T admitted to it and then immediately said that she had just enough for herself, my kids, and 2 kids from across the street.  Hmm.  I immediately explained to T that if she was going to bring popsicles over to MY house to pass out, then she must bring enough for EVERYONE who was at my house.  It was not right to leave others out, no matter how much disdain she may have for certain people. So, I went to my basement freezer to get a handful of popsicles to send home with A and her sister.  As I handed the popsicles to their mom, she started to exchange a few words with T.  Then she started to tell me how she felt about T and what she has witnessed and how terrible it was that T's dad even witnessed some of the inappropriate behavior toward A and did nothing about it. And on and on.  Ugh.  I know she wasn't yelling at me but I almost felt as if she was wanting me to take sides.  I feel terrible about what has happened between these girls but I am not surprised that it ended this way.
All I want is to be friendly with both of these neighbors without either one of them trying to get me involved in their conflicts.  I just want my children to be able to play in peace and harmony with whomever they are friends with.  I don't want my children to suffer the consequences of other parents' actions.  I just want to be good neighbor.   And I certainly hope that both of these neighbors can respect that.
If any of my readers have any advice, please feel free to share.

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