I have a difficult neighbor. By difficult I mean, he’s a little off. He’s in his mid thirties, may or may not live with his parents on the street, and spends an inordinate amount of time with the old ladies in the neighborhood. He has keys to their homes, he spends a lot of time across the street in the home of an elderly woman who died last year. The house is vacant.
My children and my friend Ann’s children frequently use Ann’s front lawn to throw baseballs. Why? Because the boys are throwing baseballs long and fast, and two adjacent lawns are best, I have gates, so our space is limited. Down the road is a senior apartment complex and frequently the boys have an audience for their baseball throwing marathons. That they play on the street delights the neighborhood.
Apparently while I was gone, our Odd Duck Neighbor (ODN) had informed the kids that they were not allowed to play on the lawn of the (now deceased) old lady. Sadly I was not there.
You see, the owners of the property are the only ones who can ask my children to not “trespass” and ODN is not the owner of that property. His presence there is suspect to begin with.
Here’s the real issue: My children need to know that I am always on their side.
When there’s a big problem, and one day there will be, my children need to know that no matter how big the problem, they have my husband and I on their side. I can tell my children that I love them, but really it’s a verb, and this is the moment.
My kids will continue to play on the lawn that they’ve been given permission to play on. They used to play there by themselves, but I’ll need to supervise for the next few days. Ann’s children and mine will continue to enjoy being part of a family neighborhood and tossing baseballs.
Ann has attempted to speak with the Odd Duck Neighbor, and my husband will do the same. The kids have an extraordinary moment, they get to witness parents protecting them, and sanctifying their childhood. Our four children will know that they are protected from bullies and that the neighborhood as a whole wants them to play.
Asking kids to not play on a lawn? Crummy.