Sunday, April 29, 2012

Love Thy Neighbor?

I've written here before about my neighbor who thinks my son is too loud when playing outside.  Yes, she still thinks he's too loud.  And, yes, she still yells at my son to keep it down. 

Imagine my surprise when I read a Dear Amy article in the Detroit Free Press from a woman who was "very annoyed by the noisy kids next door (boys who are 6 and 8)."   Here is the posting in its entirety with Amy's response:

Dear Amy: We are very annoyed by the noisy kids next door (boys who are 6 and 8).

They play basketball for hours seven days a week, while bouncing multiple balls at once, often with several friends. There is screaming, yelling and a yappy dog.

My husband has asked the parents several times for the noise to be lowered a bit, and things would get better for a day or so, but then it ramps back up again. The mother said we are the only neighbors who have complained. She said, "My kids deserve to play for a few hours every day."

We're at our wits' end and hope you can suggest how to get through to these people. -- Neighbors of the Not-Neighborly

Dear Neighbors: Your neighbor kids do deserve to play for a few hours every day.

If you lived on a highway you would have to tolerate traffic noise. You live cheek-to-howl with little boys; noise will definitely happen.

You should ask this family to agree to "quiet hours."

The comparisons in this story are kinda eerie.  I wondered if my neighbor posed as a married woman (she's not) to write this article?  If not, then I guess we aren't the only ones with a complaining neighbor. Or loud boys.

My boys were the same age (they've since turned 7 and 9).  The like to play basketball with friends (although not seven days a week).  There is screaming and yelling, but no yappy dog.  My dog barks, for sure, but isn't yappy.  We've been asked to lower the noise and my neighbor is also the only one who has complained about my kids. 

Weird, huh?  No, not really.  There is nothing weird about boys playing outside and being loud.   Normal, yes.  Weird, no.  

I agree with Amy's answer that "noise will definitely happen."  It's damn-near impossible to tell a bunch of boys to keep quiet.  The same might be true for a bunch of girls, although I wouldn't know. Our backyard is full of boys.

Our other neighbors don't seem to mind the noise.  Most people just like to hear the sound of kids laughing and playing.  

Someone named James responded to the Dear Amy article from Not-so-Neighborly.  Here is his response:

Dear Amy: "Neighbors of the Not-Neighborly" don't like the sound of their neighbors' kids playing outside.

After my own kids grew up and left home it was much too quiet around here until my neighbors' kids started playing basketball. I loved every minute of the squealing, yells, shouts and bouncing balls that I could hear coming from next door.

Now they are grown, too, and it's too quiet again. Perhaps these noisy kids can move next door to me and make my day again! -- James

Dear James: I'm with you!

I'm with James, too.  The sound of my kids' laughter when playing, whether it's surrounded by screaming or yelling or not, is still music to my ears. I, like James, will miss the noise terribly when the noise is gone. 

For now, we will continue to let our kids be kids.  That means playing outside with wild abandon.  

Running, jumping, swinging, laughing, screaming, yelling, fun-loving, happy...noisy, boys.

Friday, April 6, 2012

To Err is Human

My kids are on spring break this week but I thought spring break was next week.  I had it written on my calendar for next week.  It was on the calendar, why would I question the dates?  I write the entire school year worth of events on the calendar so I know what's coming up.  My calendar said spring break was next week.

Oops.  Spring break isn't next week.

My calendar mistake was a doozy because I decided last minute to have a birthday party for the boys over break.  Long story short, I didn't have it in me to search the stores for birthday presents trying to find something they either want or need.  They don't want or need anything.  They have bikes.  They have Wii games.  They have books.  They have toys.  I didn't want to buy something just to buy something so we decided to throw a joint birthday party at Planet Rock and that would be our present to the boys.  They get to have a party with their friends, I get to call it their birthday present and everyone has a good time.  Win-win!

The only problem was I planned the party for next week, on April 11, because I thought it was spring break.  Remember, the calendar?  I polled my kids friends' parents to see who would be around over break to make sure they would have enough attendees.   Only, I didn't give exact dates.  I just mentioned the party would be on Wednesday of spring break.  So, everyone was go.

My one friend said her kids had dentist appointments on that day but would change them so her kids could come to the party.  Great!  I texted another friend who said they would be back from vacation on April 4th.  I found that strange because spring break was from April 9-13, why would they be coming back on April 4th?

I didn't pay attention to that text and kept up with my preparations over the next few days.  I confirmed with Planet Rock.  Picked a time.  Bought invitations.  Filled out invitations.  Addressed invitations.  After awhile I texted my friend again, just to confirm her son could attend on April 11th and she texted back again saying, again, they were coming home on April 4th.  Why was she telling me about April 4th when spring break is from April 9-13?!!

I decided to pick up the phone to find out what was going on and when she answered I told her I was confused about her dates.  That's when she told me spring break was from April 2-6. 

No, it's from April 9-13, I said.  It's on my calendar.  Written right there in black and white. 

No, she said, it's from April 2-6 because they made plane reservations to fly to Florida.  She was certain it was April  2-6. 

To say I was confused would be an understatement.  How could that be?  How could I have written the wrong date on the calendar?  How is this possible?

Ugh. I made a mistake. I goofed up.  Big time.

I panicked because I made all the reservations, addressed invitations, confirmed with everyone else and no one said a word about the date.  My friend who canceled her dentist appointments?  She knew spring break was from April 2-6 but all I told her was the party would be on the Wednesday of spring break so she didn't even realize I was talking about April 11.  Do you know how hard it is to reschedule dentist appointments? 

I immediately contacted everyone by email asking if I changed the party to Thursday, April 5th would they still be able to come?  I redid the invitations.  Crossed out dates and all.  I called Planet Rock to change the date. I rescheduled my other appointments.

I slinked down into my chair and cursed myself. I was so irritated that I screwed up my own calendar so bad (keep in mind it wasn't just the party planning...everything else I planned had to be changed to accommodate the kids being home) and screwed up my friend's dentist appointments!  I haven't managed to stop beating myself up over that one, yet.

What's so funny about this story is that I console my kids all the time when they make mistakes. 

"It's not the end of the world," I say. 

"You are allowed to make mistakes.  You're human.  It's how you learn." I affirm.

"Don't be so hard on yourself," I console.

When it comes to other people making mistakes I am ready and willing to offer a pass because making mistakes is part of life.  It happens. 

To other people.

Unfortunately, I'm not as willing to give myself that pass when it happens to me.  I beat myself up for my mistakes for far too long.  Ridiculous, I know.

But, my friend who had to change her dentist appointments, again, brought it all into perspective for me.  

Being the nice person that she is, she told me, "Kim Murray, I think I like you even better now.  I'm so glad to know that you make mistakes, too, just like the rest of us.  You can still be my friend!"

Thanks for the pass.  It's exactly what I needed.

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