I really should learn not to get too comfortable!
The following Tuesday my son got up for school, went in, and I collected him and his mates at lunchtime. They stayed round my house for the rest of the day, playing on the PS4, chatting, and playing games on their phones.
When my house guest came home from school, she also brought a couple of her mate’s home with her too, so unfortunately, in a short space of time the house seemed to fill up. They attempted to take my son out, but in the process they ended up getting locked out, which resulted in my son banging on the back door at eight p.m. wanting to be let in. A couple of these were new friends, I didn’t recognise them from previous occasions, and they weren’t following my rules. I asked them to leave, and got the reply, “Yer, I’m going home in a minute.”
Shortly after this, one of the new friends, did something that my son didn’t like, my son said he kicked him in the ankle, not sure if it was deliberate, but the other child denied it. This resulted in one of the other boys stepping up to restrain my son as he flew into meltdown and a couple of the girls, loudly protesting to my son, begging him to calm down. The restraint was successful, a big bear hug from behind and my son was calm in about two minutes.
The minutes were ticking by, and I was getting very conscious that it was gone ten, so I ushered them all out of the back door, and said firmly, “Right, time for you all to head home now, it’s getting late.”
They were stood outside, saying their goodbyes, as I was attempting to clear round the house, when the doorbell went. It was my attached neighbour, who had heard the noise of the kids walking out of my back door, which is adjacent to her back door, and decided that she’d had enough. She let out a torrent of, well I suppose I could only call it abuse, I don’t want to use that word, but I can’t think of another. Yelling that I “Didn’t care about anybody else, that I was bringing the neighbourhood down”, by letting all these kids in my house. That they were all taking advantage of me and I was too soft to do anything about it. That she’d heard callum shouting and kicking off on two occasions, and now them all talking outside was more than she could take. She asked why they had to be outside, I tried to keep my cool, and apologised and said they were outside because they were about to leave. Shouting at me in response that it was all well and good for me, as I didn’t have to get up for work in the morning, to have kids partying till all hours but it wasn’t fair for those that did work. Eventually unable to placate her, that I was trying my best, and that I had put rules in place to keep the kids under control, I simply shut the door. Her attitude had made me angry, yes I did have kids here, but they weren’t playing loud music and partying, they had simply been talking in my living room. The two instances of noise she’d reported were my son and his issues. And yes, ten-thirty may have been late, but they were leaving at that time, not going on till all hours. And yes, I may not work, but I still get up at six-thirty every morning.
I then returned to the back where I asked the remaining kids to leave, they had heard her shouting and weren’t happy about the tone in which she spoke to me. But I told them it was fine, and that it would be better for everyone if they just left. After a few minutes they did so. Myself, my son and our new house guest returned to the living room and were discussing what had happened when we all heard a loud bang. Fearing the worst we looked out of the front door, but were unable to see anyone, then next door also came out of their front door. We explained we’d heard the bang, but couldn’t see anyone, they looked round their front drive, on which was parked their daughters car, and found a decorative brick that was from my broken front wall. Unable to see what it had hit, or any damage, I retreated back in to my house. I told the kids to find out who’d done what, it had to be one of their mates. Minutes later we had another bang at the front door, this time it was my neighbours’ husband, claiming that the brick had hit his daughters’ car, and that they were calling the police, and that they expected me to pay for the damage.
My uncertainties crept up on me, as I was flashed back to all the bad times, the years of living fear from the persecution of my neighbours. Having my car smashed up, my house spray painted, and windows smashed. I told my neighbour that I would never endorse that sort of behaviour and gave him the name of the person who we had been told had doubled back after the others has left, and so must have done it. He left telling to expect the police to be round shortly. I stayed up for a couple of hours expectantly waiting for someone else to knock on the door, but no one came, and by two in the morning I fell asleep.
The next day I was nervous, unsure of what was going to happen next, and what I would be expected to do about it. I wrote my blog, Dear Neighbour, to release just some of the frustrations I was feeling. By mid-afternoon, my neighbours’ husband returned home from work, and he was knocking at my door. He re-iterated the fact that he expected me to pay for the damage, not knowing at this point what the exact damage was, as his daughters car was at her place of work. To which I replied that I was not going to be able to pay for it, as I didn’t have the money, but also because I had not been the one to cause it. He said it was my fault for dragging them in to it, I replied I didn’t drag them into anything, his wife had chosen to come round and start shouting at me. If she hadn’t taken offence to my sons’ two meltdowns of the previous evening, we’d have all been tucked up and quietly in our bed by eleven p.m.
He then repeated his wife’s statement of the fact that he has to get up early each day for work, and that noise at night isn’t fair. I told him I totally agreed with him, that I also got up early each day to take my youngest son to school, and then studied throughout the day for college. Or taking care of my son, taking him to and from hospital or doctors’ appointments. I could feel myself getting upset that they thought badly of me, that despite everything that I had tried to do, it still wasn’t good enough. I informed him of just some of the issues I had faced in the past, and trying to control the tears from falling, said again that I would never do anything like that to someone else, nor would I ever endorse such behaviour. Because being on the receiving end, means you know exactly how it feels, and it still gets to me.
By the end of our conversation he seemed to have a little more understanding, and walked away no longer holding me responsible for the actions of the (now unwelcome, and never-to-be-seen again) third party. Later on that evening when his wife and daughter returned from work, they knocked the door to show me the damage. The driver’s window was scratched, thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as it had been made out to be.
I believed, with a little more effort on our part, that the situation could be resolved. If we were quieter, and if the kids left earlier, things would improve. But then on two separate occasions she marched me to her back garden, where two cigarette butts could be found on her patio. I apologised on behalf of the boys, picked them up, and said I would talk to them, again. The second time to which she replied, “What’s the point, they obviously don’t listen.” Didn’t mean I wouldn’t try though.
As far as I am aware in the weeks that followed, nothing else has gone over the fence. Everyone has left my house by eight p.m. on a weekday, and ten p.m. on a weekend night. My son was too ill to go to his dads on my birthday, but we spent the night with my mum, so the house was quiet. He then fell quite ill himself, with a chest and ear infection, and didn’t have any friends round, so that week was also quiet. Then half term came, and he went to his dads for the first part of the week. A house inspection had been arranged for that week, so I got the house ready. When my landlord came, he advised me that my neighbour had also complained to him. About the noise, smoking outside and even my rabbit. Now I am not sure when exactly she complained, so I will have to give her the benefit of the doubt, and assume it was around the same time as the car fiasco.
I’m keeping everything crossed that life will calm down over the coming months.
To Be Continued…