Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Letter To My Neighbors Concerning The General Chaos That Is My Yard (No, This Is NOT An Apology)

Dear Busybody Neighbors,

This is a letter to you, the ones that made a huge fuss over the state of chaos that was our yard after several tons of oak tree smashed our house during Hurricane Irene; The ones who welcomed us back to the neighborhood the very day we arrived home after our 10 months of refugee-living (while our house was being rebuilt) by reminding us that we had one week to clean up the yard before the America In Bloom garden snob judges came to town.  There are many of you in this neighborhood, I know because I've had you pull over to remind us that our grass needs mowing even when it is only an inch or two taller than yours.  I've seen you scoff at the toys scattered on the porch and the general unruliness of our yard.

You see I have children, four of them actually, I know you've seen them running up and down the street waving sticks they were imagining as swords (even though they were generally loud and they might have potentially poked out an eye or two).  And because I have children, my yard will inevitably be a disaster, and you are going to have to deal with it.

There's really not much sense in my yard having elaborate landscaping like so many of your homes in this idyllic historic town.  My children are too busy running barefoot, and climbing trees, and organizing impromptu touch football games in the front yard.  And because my children will grow up far too fast...and far too soon...I don't have the heart to tell them they must only walk (not run) in ordered steps on the sidewalks or that the proper place to play games is an athletic field wearing proper uniforms under the supervision and direction of some rec department employee with their guidebook of rules and regulations.

So this is just a reminder from me that my yard will never look perfect (like so many of your yards do; like something straight from a magazine) because I value my children and their brief childhoods over the narrow opinions of my neighbors.  Consider this a warning that we will continue to be "that family" with boisterous barefooted children.  You see, I don't feel like I should tuck my children away from the world  just so they don't annoy you...and I'll let the general disarray of my yard be a constant and vigilant reminder, a metaphorical thumbing of my nose in your general direction (or a big middle finger if you've been particularly obnoxious to me in the past).

And you'll probably find me running barefooted and digging holes right along with them.  You're just going to have to deal with it.



Anonymous said...

I'm not condoning your neighbors behavior, but you seem to be making excuses instead of solving, what looks to me, is a problem. When we were young (my 4 sisters and I) we had chores. Starting from age 4 we helped out around the house and outside. We picked up toys, garbage, apples (we had two apple trees), moved the trash cans out to the front on trash day, etc.. When we were 12 we moved on to mowing and weed whacking.
You and your neighbors seem to be having a disagreement. Your neighbors don't like the way your yard looks, you don't give a damn.
You can continue to not give a damn, or you can take their complaints into consideration and make a compromise. You don't have to subject yourself to the rules that they play by. I would never suggest that, because it's just a front lawn. But having your children clean up behind themselves and keeping mind of your lawn? It doesn't seem to be such a big deal. Taking the time to mow the lawn once a week and picking put the toys every day shows pride in your yard and your house. Further more, assigning chores to your children will teach them responsibility and the value of hard work.

Keith said...

To be clear - the yard is not a complete disaster except in the eyes of our overly-picky neighbors. I hire an industrious young man to cut and trim the yard every 2 weeks or whenever the grass gets out of control. Some of the people of this town have come to expect perfectly manicured grass, abundantly florid planter beds, and expertly landscaped designs.

When we failed to have such accoutrements, people have literally stopped and informed us that we needed them. The most baffling example was when we were literally moving back into the house after the aforementioned 10-month hiatus. The concerned citizen wanted to know when we would cut our grass in order to please the America in Bloom judges who were scheduled to visit the following week. Mind you, we still had an 11-ton lift in the yard and 18"-deep ruts from 10 months of construction.

Those are the types of people we're dealing with here. We're not slobs with cars on blocks and toys littering the yard. We're just dealing with super-sensitive yard perfectionists.

Keith (Husband to Alice)

Alice Jones Webb said...

But you see, I'm raising children, not grass. While my children do have chores and know how to pick up their own messes (usually with some reminding), our energy goes into creating healthy thriving children, not a well-tended yard. My priorities and the priorities of my neighbors differ greatly. I like mine better.

Anonymous said...

You guys don't need to defend yourself to me. I don't live in your neighborhood nor do I know anything about it. I was merely giving you guys a suggestion. Compromise and take better care or your yard, or don't. If what your neighbors say bother you, than fix the problem. If you don't care, then why are you complaining? Or you could move.
Here’s the thing. If you guys went through the process of buying a home, one thing you looked at was your neighborhood. You saw your neighbor’s yards and said, "Wow, they look great! This is a great clean neighborhood!" It was probably one of the "pros" on your list of why you would move into that neighborhood. I bet if all the houses had messy yards with unkempt beds, long grass and trashed yards, that would have been a "con". So you moved into a beautiful neighborhood where people take immaculate care of their lawns and now you're deciding to be the "free spirits". Well, that’s just great, but think of how your neighbors feel. One of the reasons their block was so great was because EVERYBODY (from what it sounds like) takes such good care of their yards and you guys don't care, and you guys have the audacity to complain?
That’s great, you’re raising your children. If you don’t care about the look of your property, than that is also what you’re teaching your children. There were 5 of us, 7 years apart, both my parents worked full time and we were dirt poor. But my parents taught us that in order to show that you love something, you take care of it. What are you teaching your children? And again, if you don’t love your property, than why do you care what your neighbors think about it?

Anonymous said...

or their neighbors could quit bellyaching about the presence of OMG KIDS and their MessyMEssy Ways....

Anonymous said...

it sounds to me like they love their property enough to actually USE IT in the way that benefits their family, whom I would gather they love a damn sight more than a piece of land with a house on it

Unknown said...

This. I to have an uptight neighbor. Two of them. 7 kids...military family. Perfect lawn is not in my concerns.
Bitching if kids barely step on their lawn or get a stray toy.
Bitching about the 11 year old dog.
Bitching the kids play in the grass at the bus stop instead of standing quietly.
Mad that they know I can send them to the stop without me at their ages. I can see the stop from my window. Its literally feet from me across the street directly.
I see them...which she claims I'm not watching them. I simply don't feel there doing anything wrong.
It us what it is. Police and a child services worker apologized to me and went across the street AMD told them my home was safe, kids were happy AMD I have the right to decide if they can be out front without me etc.
They're just super nit picky.