Friday, October 5, 2007

The Darnedest Things

It’s been a while since I worked myself up into a blind rage, but last night, kapow.

The three of us went out to a nice Oktoberfest dinner, and when we got home, there was a message on the voice mail from one of my neighbors.

Apparently that afternoon, four of the boys, including my boy, were playing baseball with rocks. Which is a bad idea, it goes without saying. Apparently, one of the rocks hit a house adjacent to our development. This sounds all nice and Americana, even shading into Norman Rockwell terrain, no? No.

The owner of the house calls my neighbor and claims that a window was broken. He wants us to “make it right by sundown.” Or, what? I’m thinking. He’s going to get his posse together and learn us a lesson?

So while I was enjoying my spaetzle and beer, three other mothers went to the guy’s house. He indicated that Caleb was “mouthing off” to him. He said, “I’m a Vietnam vet—don’t go there, kid.” He mentioned that he’s friends with police officers. Also, it turns out a window was not broken, but a screen was torn.

I talked to Caleb, who contends that he didn’t mouth off. He didn’t say anything at all, just ran home as fast as he could when he heard the guy shouting at them. When he ran, the guy called after him, “You better run.” (Again—or what?) The only thing the other kids said was, “I’m sorry.” One kid, the youngest, was especially shaken.

My conversation with Brandon went something like this:


Brandon: …


Brandon: …

It was already dark. I collected a bunch of rocks in a cup and walked over to where the boys were earlier that afternoon. I started winging them at the house one by one.

Lights came on. He stepped out. Before he could say anything, I started in.

“Here,” I said. “Here’s your chance. If you want to bully someone, bully me. I'm another adult.” I clenched the cup of rocks.

I’m kidding. I didn’t do that, but I really fucking wanted to.

I have methods for not getting into these kinds of rages, but sometimes, I have to just live through them. Eventually, I calmed down enough to try to understand the guy’s perspective. Before our houses were built, he had woods behind his house. The developer promised him things that he didn’t deliver on. The guy’s resentful of us anyway. Then there are these kids and their rocks on the camel’s back.

My normal impulse is to root for the underdog, and I know, I know, that he appears to be the victim here. He’s the one with the torn screen and the shitty backyard view now. But on the other hand, I know this type. And he better watch what he says. Or what? I'll think of something.


BarbaraCA said...

1) I can't get into his head enough to sympathize with him and 2) I do believe this calls for the flambe de la bag o dog poop.

Elrena said...

Oh. My.

I guess it's a good thing you didn't do what you wanted to, but boy...wouldn't that have felt good??

I'm impressed that you're trying to see his point of view, but I have to say: a torn screen is nothing. I slashed one of mine the other day, with a rock, because my toddler accidentally locked me out of the house and I had no other way back in. The hardware store had it fixed in about eight seconds.

Anyway, as promised, I tagged you with a meme! Here's the link if you want to play:

Rachel said...

So...did you get it fixed "by sundown?" I'm thinking not since you didn't get the message until after dinner. What happened?!!

Anjali said...

Oh, love your response to his childish threats. Even if it was pretend.

Jennifer said...

Oh, my--get this: this morning, he came over with a POLICE OFFICER to file a report. (We'd already agreed to pay whatever damages.) He found some other things wrong with his backyard. I suppose it's conceivable (since our children have super-human baseball playing abilities), but if he starts complaining about his microwave, I will draw the line.

Jody said...

I had a neighbor like that growing up. I don't know what his name was, but we called him something a little bit ugly, possibly. One time I was riding my bike and I fell and I landed in his yard and he came running, yelling at me to get off his grass. It's amazing how quickly incidents like these can translate into rumors of people eating children.

What a jerk your neighbor is. Do you have a nickname for him yet? Are you considering having a proper feud (such as one sees on those TV judge shows?)

jessica said...

Why does every neighborhood have to have "the nutroll?" It's so detrimental to everything, except the nutroll's psychotic problems.

I'm so sorry to hear this. Poor Caleb. Poor y'all. I agree with the flambe du dog poop method, except your nutroll may go off and become a wack job. Worse than nut roll. Steer clear.

Katie said...

I was wondering how long it would take your neighbor to call the police and make a report. Since I work as a juvenile court magistrate, I knew this would be inevitable. So many of our neighbors feel like the police are the antidote. Let the police handle it, let the court system handle, but God forbid, let me handle it. In our court, we see countless cases like this where children are charged with minor damage to a person's property. It serves no purpose bringing a young child to court to deal with this type of issue. The best result, let the adults deal with it WITH no official intervention. So the parent of the rock-thrower, takes her son to the (offensive) neighbor and he apologizes. Maybe he rakes leaves for an hour, or washes windows and maybe writes an apology letter. The young offender will learn the best lesson through those methods. But, calling the POLICE---UGGG. But again, I am not surprised. On a daily basis, we have children brought to our court for Domestic Violence---for having a fight with their sibling and instead of the parent interfering the parent calls the police.

I'm sorry your neighbor is lashing out in this manner. I understand your frustration.

laundrylessons said...

I agree with Katie. The justice system doesn't need this stuff.

Once some teens hit my mailbox. I was standing outside so I saw the whole thing but I thought they did it on purpose, like with a bat or something. Instead of stopping they raced off, so I called the police, thinking it was intentional vandalism. When the police found them, circle the neighborhood like sharks protecting their kill, they realized it an accident. When asked if I wanted to press charges, I told the cops to tell them to do like their parents taught them and just own up to it. I didn't want to be the nutroll. I found it funny and I had probably done worse.

Sorry you have to put up with this...I'd be afraid...good thing you had a cup of rocks in your dramatization.

Jennifer said...

Is that what happens after a police report is filed? It goes to the courts? Or does the guy then choose to press charges or not?

(I probably should just contact the officer instead of relying on you all, huh?)

He told some other parents that he hopes we bring the kids by trick-or-treating. Uh, like that's going to happen.

Katie said...

It depends on your jurisdiction what happens once a police report is filed. In many counties, upon a filing of a police report (and usually but not always an indication that the complainant wants to proceed) the report is processed through an Intervention Center or through a diversion court program. The Intervention/Diversion folks review the filing to determine what is the best course of action. Usually, these case are handled unofficially. However, its a lot of hassle for folks and its a shame that these matters even get that far. It used to be that the police attempted to resolve neighborhood conflict absent the justice system. Unfortuanately, in most jursidictions today that just isnt the case.

Contacting that officer would be the best first step. Hopefully, the officer will help you in resolving the conflict without the system's interference. It's less paperwork for the officer if these matters are just resolved. I would note sometimes people seek police reports for their insurance polices.

I would state that if there is a request to interview your child that you seek some legal advice. Im just hoping this doesnt get blown up to that extent. I just know where sometimes these matters go that way.

I was afraid I would cause you undue concern about this and I'm sorry if I did. Are these the same neighbors that took your recycle bins?

Julianne said...

I got really pumped reading about you throwing rocks at his door. It sounds like one of the many retaliation fantasies that I have had.

I'm with barbaraca. Bring on the dog poo!

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth Hannon Fuller said...

OMG! I actually thought you had gone to his house and thrown rocks....and I thought, momma, you are a badass! But then I already think that....