Maybe this is something that happens to the regular Joe often, but it's not something we've dealt with in the past. We don't live in a traditional neighborhood and rarely have neighborhood kids running about. It's both a blessing and a curse. My brother and I always had our cousins, who lived next door, to play with. My kids have one another. Sure, I envy that homey allotment from The Wonder Years where people barbecue together, wash their cars together, and visit one another's yard sales. But our privacy sure is nice too.
Recently, the house across the street (the old man with six dogs who sat outside in a lawn chair all day, shirtless) went up for rent. We were thrilled to get rid of the old neighbor but hoped for new owners instead of tenants. A slew of people seemed to move in there, judging by the numerous cars always parked in the street. There is only one man I recognize, the others seem to change all the time. There is a little boy who lives there. He doesn't go to school with my kids but gets picked up and dropped off right in front of his house on a special bus. I deducted that he had some sort of special need.
Today, my kids were playing outside with a friend they invited over for the day. The boy from across the street just showed up- in our back yard. Uninvited. Our back yard is very inaccessible to the public, so seeing a stranger in it is rather shocking. I called one of my kids to the door and asked them who the boy was. They said he showed up in the back yard and declared, "I need some friends." I instantly felt sorry for him and encouraged my kids to play with him.
The boy is a screamer. I am far from the best parent in the world, but screaming is something I do not allow my children to do. It's something I cannot handle. Even in McDonald's Playland, my kids are not allowed to scream. That issue became a bit of a battle when I had little girls. Little girls love to scream. They just do. It's something I put a stop to because it drives me absolutely insane. Baby Girl was napping at the time so I told the kids not to scream. Yeah, didn't work.
Then, my kids came tearing in the house and locked the door. "What in the world are you doing?" I demanded to know. The kids answered that the neighbor boy was attempting to hit them with a belt. I looked out the window to see a kid tearing around through my yard, screaming and wildly swinging a belt around. "OK, you stay in the house and stay away from the windows." That's all I needed to tell my friend is that a neighbor kid hit her son with a belt while he was visiting at my house.
Minutes later, the neighbor rang my doorbell and asked where the kids were. I said they were playing. He asked where and I said I didn't know. About a minute after that, he knocked at my back door and said that he saw the kids in my house. I explained that they came in because he was trying to hit them with a belt and they don't want to play with someone who tries to hit them. He said he wasn't trying to hit them, even though I told him I saw him chasing my kids through the window. I didn't tell him to leave; I figured he would eventually go home on his own.
Next thing I noticed, he turned on my garden hose and started overflowing the kiddie pool. I opened the door and told him to turn it off. A few minutes later, he began spraying the hose at my windows. That does not make me a happy mama. I hate water spotted windows! I walked outside and started shaking my head at him. I turned off the hose, which he said was broken and wouldn't turn off. I told him not to spray my windows. Still, I didn't ask him to leave.
He stayed around for a while and then began walking home. At that same moment, my other son was being dropped off by his uncle. The boy walked up to him and asked if he was one of the kids he was trying to whip. Nice. My son said no and came on inside. The kid finally went home.
I am someone who has patience for children with special needs. I'm not sure this kid actually has one, other than poor behavior. I don't want to be mean to him but I'm not comfortable with my kids, especially Baby Girl, being outside with a kid who behaves that way. I don't allow my kids to play with children whose parents I've never met, but I realize I may not be the norm.
Do I sneak my kids out the back door, hoping he won't notice when they go out? This could turn into a regular problem, I'm afraid. With the neighbors being renters, they probably won't stick around too long anyway. The problem will probably take care of itself.
Like I said, this is probably something most people deal with all the time, but we're not used to neighborhood kids! So stop laughing at me now!