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Love Is A Verb

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.

Except one.

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.

14 thoughts on “Love Is A Verb”

  1. You are right about teaching the children that mom and dad support them.

    We are dealing with a bullying situation right now and made a point of making sure that our son understands that we will go to the mat for him.

    This is laying the groundwork for their pre-teen and teenage years so that the lines of communication remain open.

  2. That guy sounds creepy. I don’t know if I’d want my kids playing anywhere near that guy. Maybe him telling them to not play there was a warning. Stranger Danger!

  3. ODN certainly sounds odd. I think it’s good that your husband will go talk to the man but I think it’s inappropriate to refer to the neighbor as an ODN to your children, if that’s what you did.

    You must protect your children and you are smart to be cautious about this man but the fact that he spends time with the elderly ladies in your neighborhood or has keys to their homes is none of your business, Jessica. Have you discussed your concerns about this to the elderly ladies in your neighborhood or are you just making assumptions based on assumptions? Are you positive the old lady didn’t leave him the home when she passed away or made him executor of her will? If he’s not responsible for that vacant property, who is?

    Your kids sure do need to know you have their back and that you will protect them from bullies and weirdos, but they need to see you attempt to address these types of situations in a mature, sensible manner. Wouldn’t you agree?

  4. Preston. He frequently drives around the neighborhood with 3 or 4 elderly women in his car. He is an odd duck and I don’t have this particular discussion with my children.

    We know the home owners, it was left to two sisters who cannot agree on how to dispose of the home, they see the ODN as a trusted friend.

    The ODN is very active in our neighborhood and I’d never know that he had keys to everyone’s homes if he didn’t announce it at neighborhood council meetings. I would love nothing more than for him to be none of my business.

    Mature and sensible? Yes, in my real life I do that, in my blog life… loose cannon.

  5. Jessica: I apologize because I think I came on much stronger than I meant too. I just hate it when my neighbors intrude in my life when they have no idea what’s really going on, so it’s a sensitive issue with me. Regardless of what I thought about this situation; however, it is quite obvious that your children’s safety is what’s most important to you and that’s the way it should be. And don’t ever change being a loose cannon on your blog. It’s why I regularly read it!

  6. I wonder if he knew you were gone and that was the reason he took the opportunity to do it. I’ve seen people do sneaky things like that before to children when their parents weren’t around.

  7. How interesting thatth is precisely the topic of a post I wrote last night … only yours is much more eloquent and polite. I agree, my children will always know that I am on their side.

  8. It all starts with us as parents we are our childrens first and best roll models(even if i just googled shock collars for my oldest)
    They need us no matter how young or old they are…
    Great post and ODN sounds a lil creepy(not trying to be judgemental)

  9. hoorah! working hard to make sure kids have ability to play outdoors. i get so sad walking around our neighborhood-there are no kids playing outside. where are all the kids?? no doubt many are inside playing alone with parents who won’t work hard to protect space outside they can use.

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