Thursday, April 09, 2015

Neighbors - you can't live with them and you can't make them move. A three part series in why I wish we could move to the middle of nowhere so I didn't have to nagivate difficult social interactions with other adults. Part 3

You had to know this post was coming right? I mean I can't write about neighbors without including The Other Family (hereafter known as TOF). 

If you haven't figured it out, TOF is the family from last fall. If you don't know what I'm talking about you can go back a few posts to what I wrote in October. There hasn't been much writing in between so it shouldn't be difficult to find.

Kiel asked to play with The Other Boy (TOB) over the weekend. I hadn't really prepared myself for that yet. I should have, because it was obviously going to happen. After ignoring his first request, I finally told Kiel it wasn't a good time right now. 

TOB is going to want to come over, especially with the new basketball hoop set up.  He likes sports and he likes to be involved with other kids. He's a nice kid and if it weren't for my fear of how his parents are going to act, I would have no hesitation about him playing here. 

To update you, there has been no communication with the other family outside of some "good mornings" from The Other Dad (TOD) when he's at the bus stop at least he finally has the balls to be there. I've initiated a couple light conversations with The Other Mom (TOM) the few times I've seen her at the bus stop, usually about their new dog. She responds, possibly because other people are around. The interaction is always short and awkward.

There are still times we pass in our cars and she pointedly looks away from us. 

While I understand in part, it mostly feels very strange to me. And very, very sad.

This is a woman who multiple times told me our friendship was "the no judgement zone." And had a conversation with me about how she doesn't allow grudges in her house. Someone I was very open with about Noah and what we were going through.

I still miss the friendship, although I've moved past missing her in particular. As time passes and I can see things somewhat less emotionally, I can see her and the relationship I had with her, with more honesty. It was never destined to go far. It was, what it was, because of our boys friendship. In many ways a friendship of convenience I suppose.

As far as Kiel and TOB, they have both moved well past The Incident as far as I can see. They want to play with each other. Kiel is no longer having nightmares about TOM, and hasn't spoken of her in a couple months. He actually told me shortly after Christmas that it was ok to see her now, and "she is in a better place." (I had to laugh at that one. I hope he's right though.)

As for Kiel playing with TOB at their house I have very mixed feelings. Obviously, I don't think he would ever be invited by TOM or TOD. I have no concerns about his safety there though. TOM and TOD are good parents. Even though the professionals have "given me permission" to place some responsibility on them for leaving the boys unsupervised for so long, I don't. And I say that in full honesty.

What I am worried about is how they would treat Kiel and how they would react to just about anything he did. It just wouldn't be right to put Kiel in a situation where he would likely be judged for every action. He would know. 

Again, I don't really think that's going to be something I have to worry about.  Although, as I write this, even though I doubt the parents would ever invite him, what if TOB does, in that way that kids do. 

I refuse to have a conversation with Kiel that includes telling him he specifically can't go to their house. We already have the conversation about where the limits are that he can play in the neighborhood, and that he can't go in anyone's house, even his school friends houses, unless he asks my permission first. I hope that will be enough. I fear it won't though, since the boys used to run in and out of each of our houses freely.

I won't lie and say that I don't have the urge to fight "like with like" because of how they have acted, but I won't let myself go there.  I might want to put a bag of flaming dog shit on their front porch, but I would never do that! I might secretly flip them the bird when I drive past their house, but I never do it visibly. I might want to scream to everyone that TOM is a crazy fucking bitch and to be careful, but I won't. If they don't want the boys playing together I guess they will need to figure out how to ensure that happens.

I do think we need to have a conversation about it. And I would like a chance to say a few things to TOM. I would REALLY like a chance to do that. I'd like to tell her how disappointed I am in her. And how childish she has been acting. And make sure she understands that what the boys did wasn't as upsetting as how the adults acted after, and that any damage that may have been done to either Kiel or TOB was done after and because of their reaction.

OK, I'm still mad. I admit it. Perhaps I'm not quite as mature as I would like to be. Working through this in writing as I do is making it pretty clear its all still quite raw for me. It's good to know that though isn't it? I'm clearly a work in progress.

My other concern with this mess, and that is neighbor related, is that I have no idea what TOF has said to anyone in the neighborhood. I know they lied to me about telling the school, since they told me two days after they were in meeting with the principal that they hadn't said anything. I have no reason to believe that they wouldn't tell others, or that they wouldn't twist it for their benefit. Not knowing if or what they may have said to others hangs over me. I wonder how long it will cloud every interaction I have with people I know TOM has had contact with, which is a hell of a lot, since she knows freaking everyone.

I also wonder how long it is going to take before I trust letting another family into our lives like that.

Update to part 1: the conversation with the driveway sharing neighbor did not go well. I was calm and kind and conciliatory, and she was judgy and bitchy. She did everything but come out and say that Noah is only like he is because of us. Apparently we aren't strict enough and her boys see that and don't think it is fair. At least she stopped herself from telling me I should beat him, as she has done before. It's such a warm fuzzy feeling to know that someone thinks they can parent your child better than you can. 

When I tried to explain what he is dealing with brain wise she said then he shouldn't be allowed outside. I guess he shouldn't be allowed in his bedroom either because they hear him there when he is upset. Apprently it's okay for her boys to verbally threaten him, and call him faggot, but any response from him is never acceptable. Oh yes, I know I'm bitter right now.

You can be proud of me though. I didn't bring up the drums, or her multiple daily screaming/screeching fits at her kids and husband, even once.

I sure wish it was possible to actually grow thicker skin, because I clearly need it.



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  2. It’s unfortunate that your chat with Immediate Neighbor didn’t go so well and that TOM/TOD remain cordial to you and your family – but, well, they’re holding up their end of the social contract. That’s good thing. Really. There are (way too) many grownups who are unwilling/unable to even manage that.

    *Big sigh*

    With respect to Immediate Neighbor, the outcome is unfortunate but unsurprising – and, honestly, if some other kid threw rocks at your kids and inadvertently broke your window, um, you probably would be wary of that child… even if the rock-throwing was a manifestation of a brain difference. Intellectually ‘getting it’ isn’t quite the same thing as encouraging your kid to play with a kid-with-a-brain-difference-who-might-possibly-try-to-physically-assault-them-again. It’s not right (so.not.right!) but it’s also kindasortamaybe understandable when viewed from the other mom’s perspective*.

    You totally deserve kudos for keeping your cool when dealing with that mom. Her comments were bitchy and beyond the pale, but it’s nevertheless probably a good idea for you/hubby to (1) teach both kids to be cordial and nothing more to her boys, i.e. no more awkward attempts at befriending them from Noah and (2) supervise closely when both sets of kids are playing on the shared driveway.

    What TOF says to others? Is what it is. Both of your families have lived in same neighborhood for years and years, so you’re a ‘known entity’, i.e. folks in the neighborhood know BOTH of you well enough to measure what TOF says against what they know of your fam/kids. It’s unlikely they’d accept TOF’s version as gospel.

    *When my sis was seven or eight, she had an ‘episode’ at a birthday sleepover and scared the hell out of the host’s parents… that was the end of sleepovers for her. Not because other parents were mean but because, um, it’s traumatic to have the police show up at 3 AM because somebody noticed a little girl in a nightgown on your roof when it’s -20. (K still went to slumber parties, just got picked up at 10 or 11 PM. By the time she was stable enough for sleepovers, she was too old for them to be a ‘thing’ at birthday parties).