I hate our neighbors.
I had such high hopes when they moved in. Nice young couple with several cats – what could be wrong with that? One of their cars was festooned with left-wing political stickers, and their other car was a BMW. And their other other car was a truck with a camper. Hmm. But okay, we don’t drive so it’s not like we minded that they took up the whole driveway. And they have kids – three grammar-school aged kids. Yay, I thought, they won’t mind if the baby makes a lot of noise (I was eight months pregnant when they moved in).
Noise, apparently, is not an issue which concerns our neighbors. The children, who seemed so sweet, seemed to have no concept of time or space. Ten p.m. and the kids were outside in our shared driveway, shouting and kicking a ball. Kicking a ball into the side of our house, that is. Bang. Bang. Shout. Bang. And the hate began. Why were three grammar-school aged kids outside at ten p.m.? Didn’t they have a bedtime? And the kicking of the ball into the side of the house – it wasn’t once or twice, or even just one or two isolated occasions. It was every time they were outside. Finally one night when they were playing on our lawn (we do share a driveway, but dude, our lawn is so clearly our lawn) Matt opened the door and looked out. The kids stopped like deer in headlights and immediately said “I’m sorry.” Okay, so you know you’re doing something wrong…why are you waiting to get caught? Matt said something about how it’s really loud when they kick the ball into the house, and the oldest boy said “We won’t do it again” in this really rehearsed tone, like he already knew. That ended the kickball portion of the festivities, thank jeebus. (But I swear, one morning they woke me up because they were whacking the oak tree with a stick. Whacking a tree. With a stick. *shakes head*)
Adding to the cacophony were two dogs, added about a month after the neighbors moved in. Aaw, I thought. What cute Beagles! Sure, the dogs made dog-like noises when they were outside, but they were really only outside during the day when the kids were home. Happy children playing with happy doggies. What could be sweeter? Then one day the neighbors left the dogs out on the deck while they left for the day. The dogs spent the entire time they were gone – close to 6 hours, as I recall – whining and yowling. Whine, yowl, whine, yowl. Still, I was willing to give the neighbors the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they didn’t realize how loud the dogs were when no one was home with them. Certainly they would not knowingly subject their neighbors to such unending noise. Then they began leaving the dogs out at night. All night. Whine, yowl, whine, yowl…occasionally one of the neighbors would come out and shout at the dogs but that only added to the noise. So much noise. And the hate, it grew.
(To be fair…they seem to have gotten rid of the dogs, and the kids are only there part time, so it’s not as bad as it seemed like it would be during the first couple of months. But still.)
Today it’s the parents who are incurring my wrath. There is a new vehicle in the driveway. A truck, which can only be described as a “beater.” The husband’s got the hood open and is doing something engine-related, if I’m to judge from the revving noises coming from just outside my window. RNNNnnnnn. RRRRNNNNNNNnnn. Rnnnn. And a couple of backfires thrown in for good measure. This has been going on for a half hour. I’m trying to soothe the baby into a nap while the neighbor is running a repair shop. (Granted, the noise doesn’t seem to bother the baby at all – but it bothers me, and that makes it hard for me to be soothing.)
Now, it seems, the husband has given up on the truck and has moved it out of the driveway. Onto his lawn. There is a truck parked on my neighbor’s lawn. Wow. I’m having flashbacks to the trailer park, and it’s not even the holidays.
Matt thinks I’m overreacting, and maybe I am – but I’m always hyper-sensitive to other people’s space, and when I was a kid I would never kick my ball into the neighbor’s house (for example) or, as an adult, leave my loud, untrained animals outside all night when other people were trying to sleep. Some of the noise is forgivable (including, if I’m in the mood to be reasonable, the revving of the truck – it’s the middle of the day, after all, and it is their driveway too) but much of it seems like bad manners. Do you teach your kid to respect other people’s space, or do you just ignore it when they run amok? Are you considerate of the noise level at night, or do you just pretend your neighbors don’t exist?