Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Good fences make good... uh...

Who else has trouble defining boundaries with neighbors when kids are involved? Overall, I am very glad that we live in a friendly neighborhood, with lots of other children and also parents of grown kids who love to have little ones around. Surrounding our house we have:

  • Next door, Vern (I kid you not) and his wife and three grown daughters, all of whom have names starting with L. (I am the only one in our household who can tell these three girls apart and match the correct name with the correct person.) They are always willing to stop and admire while Jo shows off some new trick or Opie tells a longwinded story. Recently he asked repeatedly, "Where's Mr. D?" When no one understood him (or more likely, answered him to his satisfaction), he bellowed, "Where's BERN?!"

  • On the other side of Vern's house, Mr. and Mrs. B and their three high-school/college-age sons. Adore, worship, and idolize are not really strong enough words to convey how my children feel about Mr. B. If they so much as hear his laugh echoing across the yard, they freeze in their tracks and their ears perk up like jackrabbits. Mrs. B. is a close second because she unfailingly provides Fla-Vor-Ices anytime Jo and Opie are within 50 feet of her.


  • Next door to the Bs, a cool fifty-ish mom who lives in an awesome three-story Queen Anne with beautiful gardens. She once invited Jo (and me and Opie) inside to see her cats. When she told Jo that one of the cats must be hiding under the beds, Jo immediately toured the entire house from top to bottom looking under every bed.


  • Next door to us on the other side, toward the front, a family with four kids between the ages of 2 and 6 has just moved in. Since the side of our house that includes the kids' bedrooms overlooks their yard, we are already quite familiar with all of their cool outdoor toys, including a battery-powered Lightning McQueen car.


  • Next door to us in the back, another family with kids ages 2 and 3 who are very much interested in our dog.


  • Across the street from our back gate, Jo's friend Joe (for the longest time they called each other "Jofus" and "Jofie"), and his two younger siblings.


So you can see why nearly every time we go outside, I am harassed with requests to visit any (or all) of the above. Never mind whether we've been invited, whether we've been there every day for the past week, or whether it's 10 minutes before dinner--we have friends and we "just want to see if they're outside." I'm finding the fence, while good in so many ways, makes this just a little more awkward. Because now it's more of an effort to get into a neighbor's yard, and it makes it seem that much more deliberate when we all turn up on someone's lawn. They say they are happy to see us but can that really be true? We almost never get the return visits so I have to wonder. KnowhutImean?

12 comments:

Her Bad Mother said...

I know a little of this experience - for us it's the going outside on the front verandah when the other neighbours are on their verandahs. It's expected that you spend some time chatting with anyone who happens to be on their porch. Makes it hard to get to the park (or, sometimes, to get from the car to the front door).

But I wouldn't change it.

Magpie said...

I know that well. Everyday when we get home from daycare, my kid says "are the children home?" - meaning the twin girls next door, who are about to turn six. I can't send her over there every day, but I think she'd like it. And then sometimes they come over and run roughshod through my house and make a mess of her room. It's very complicated.

binkytown said...

It's not so bad in my current neighborhood but in my old one, stepping outside GAURANTEED a lonely old person would invite you for tea, which was sweet, but a pain in the ass.

Vern sounds awesome.

Jeff said...

Hello. You have been tagged quite by random chance, actually. Do with it whatever you want; it is kind of a blog experiment I am doing.

I am glad that I happened along here. I really like this blog of yours.

bubandpie said...

We live in a friendly neighbourhood too, and I love it - it's so dull when we're out at midday and all the other yards are empty. But I definitely love the low chain-link fences - we can easily chat with the neighbours without ever having to negotiate the awkwardness of who is dropping by whose place.

mothergoosemouse said...

You and I have talked a bit about this. My apartment-dwelling past keeps me from being too neighborly - I sometimes have to remind myself to make eye contact and wave back - but the girls more than make up for my lack of sociability.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

We don't have a fence, so the kids have had a hard time understanding where our yard ends and the neighbor's begins. (So do I, come weeding time.) They have two little kids who are *obsessed* with my children, and the second we step out the door they shout, "There they are!" and come sprinting over. Sometimes it's cute and sometimes, you know, I'd like some time outside with just my own children. (Is that so wrong?)

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

I'm so jealous. All of my neighbors are hermits or racists.

Christina said...

I wish we had neighbors like that. Our next door neighbors have four unruly kids that play in our side yard and destroy our things. That's particularly why we built a fence.

I hope we'll get better neighbors once they move out!

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

Yeah, our across the alley neighbor was highly disappointed when we built our fence (we had to for the dog)... it's interesting dynamics all around.

Julie Pippert said...

Some people are out and abouters and some are welcome in-ers, I think. Sounds like nice neighbors!

Lady M said...

If we ever get our act together to move, I would love to have a neighborhood like that. There are many elderly folks where we live, and with the exception of the family across the street (with the exuberant Christmas decorations), we never see them outside.

Of course, until two years ago, we were also racing around, going to work and dance, never spending time outside either.