Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Standoff at the Not OK Neighborhood

Recently, local news outlets covered the story of two young girls who were forced to stop selling Girl Scout Cookies in front of their home. Such activities were prohibited by a local ordinance, and a neighbor had complained.




Unreasonable on the part of the neighbor? Most of us think so.

On the other hand, a couple of months ago, my favorite radio morning show hosts got into a discussion of one of the host's neighborhood kids. A neighbor had prohibited the kids in the neighborhood from crossing his property. The man was labeled "unreasonable." The kids had to play somewhere, they said, and they weren't doing any harm.

That's not the point. It's his property. He has the right to say no.




In this instance, I have to take the side of the neighbor. People who don't have children have as many rights legally as those who do. This man is in no way obligated to allow the kids on his property if he doesn't want them there. If one of the kids were injured on the property, you can bet the parents wold be yelling "Sue!" My parents decided against an in-ground pool when I was a kid because our next-door neighbor had made it clear she would sue if one of her kids got hurt in our pool--yet she was angry when Mom and Dad refused to allow them in our above-ground pool. Duh!




I have one child. One adult child. A child who, even when very young, was never a nuisance to our neighbors. I live in an apartment complex, one that's both kid and pet-friendly. It's a nice place. It would be perfect if it were divided into sections: families, party animals, and geezers. The Families section is self-explanatory. Party Animals--if a tenant has a stereo, they would be here. Let 'em drown each other out. The Geezer section would be for retirees and the rest of us who crave peace and quiet.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. I have one neighbor--there's always at least one!--who loves their music so much, they insist upon sharing it with the entire neighborhood.

Don't get me wrong--I do love music. I just don't love theirs. I don't love being forced to listen to it when I'm trying to work, sleep or watch TV. Finally, I have come to understand my mother's battle cry throughout my teen years: "Turn that damn thing down!"

So that's why she bought me those headphones.... 




Getting back to the kids. We have enough kids in this section to be a problem. No, let me restate that. The kids are not the problem. They're really not bad kids, just unsupervised. Their parents are the problem (God help them if they grow up to be like their mothers). The lack of a decent play area is a problem. With no playground, they end up bringing their soccer ball to the courtyard outside my apartment. It's a small courtyard, so when the ball is being kicked around, broken windows are a real possibility.

I know only one of my neighbors by name, so, to be able to identify the kids to management and police in the event of a broken window, I took a photo of them kicking the ball around the courtyard (I'm sure no one would admit to having broken a window). The kids told their mothers. That's how I met our resident harpies. They were on my doorstep, making complete asses of themselves over a photograph.

One of them started spouting law to me in an attempt to convince me that the kids could play on my doorstep if they wanted. At least I think that's what it was. Her Bosnian accent was so heavy, it was hard to tell. The others were Mexican. It sounded like an agument at the United Nations.

I could have pointed out to her that standard leases include a clause that states no resident is permitted to disturb the rights, comforts or conveniences of other tenants. That clause was explained to me by an attorney when I was preparing a lawsuit against a previous landlord who had become a nuisance to me and to the bank trustee who handled my finances. 


Since these women needed things clarified for them, it meant that no, their kids could NOT play on my patio. They could NOT keep hitting my door with their soccer ball. 




Recently, property management posted the above sign in the courtyard. I almost threw a party when I saw it! The celebration, however, was short-lived. The kids are still kicking the soccer ball all over the courtyard. Apparently, their mothers can't read....


April 7: A postscript to the Girl Scout Cookie debate. The Freedom Center of Missouri plans to file a lawsuit today, challenging the city's constitutional authority to prohibit the cookie stand. For the full story, click here.

31 comments:

  1. Bad neighbours indeed!! Very good blog!

    And you're right, the parents would be suing their neighbour if anything happened to their kids while on his property.

    A lot of parents have blinders on where their kids are concerned; "no, that couldn't be my son! My little precious baby wouldn't set off firecrackers in a mail box!"

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  2. I love my mom's retirement community. We're blessed with well behaved kids in our neighborhood, and most of them live further down the block from me, so I haven't had to deal with soccer balls, bike ramps or skate boards. It's just the knowledge that anyone with problem children or loud music could move in next door. At least I have a fenced in back yard and a big scary looking dog.

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  3. Wow- Norma you sound very passionate about these bad little weasels. Hope they give you some peace of mind soon.

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  4. As a hairdresser, I meet a lot of dumb parents daily.

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  5. Here's a headline: lazy parenting molding entitled kids. It's todays hottest trend. As for the Girl Scout cookie sales, if there's an ordinance poibiting it in that neighborhood, then the neighbor can't really be faulted. When did being a kid make it okay not to follow the rules? They tried, they got caught...move on. The parents should know better.

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  6. Kids play in my backyard all the time and it's very annoying and unnerving. I can't wait to have a fence (this summer, I hope). Until then I have to keep a lock on my hot tub.

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  7. I absolutely Hate Girl Scout Cookie time !
    They block your way into the market and come to your door even though my community has No Solicitation sign posted everywhere.
    I had one mother who came to my door with her daughters selling those awful cookies
    When I said I really don't buy cookies and even said to the child really nicely that for heath reason I don't buy any sweets.
    The mother said to her daughter well "she is just a mean jerk " in front of me ! Hello... way to instill tolerance in you daughter.
    Since then I don't feel bad when I say "No Thank You" to cookies.

    cheers, parsnip

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  8. I love girl scout cookies! I don't like some of the aggressive mothers. I have fought with many idiot parents over who has rights in my yard, so I'm right with you.
    I never have liked soliciting, but when they don't take the obvious 'go away' it makes me get even more explicit. As for thse type of mothers, they forget not everyone in the world is required to kowtow to their kids. Um, I usually take the ball and forget to give it back.

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  9. I don't think there's anyone who hasn't had the experience of annoying neighbors -- including the annoying neighbors themselves, who I'm sure can't understand why those so-and-so's next door won't let them party in peace.

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  10. Hubby and I have lived in an apartment where the landlords daughter lived below us...it was ok for them to make noise, but not for us. Yeah, how is that fair? And, I totally hate it when kids are allowed to scream until people around them's ears start to bleed...I think, "Shut your f***ing kid up!" Of course, I'm polite, and just walk the other way. The kids next door to us (Which Jamie doesn't play with and I wouldn't let her anyway), scream all summer long...All day!!!!Everyday!!!

    People with kids forget about the rights of others. Thankfully, I have a pretty good kid who doesn't run amok through the neighbourhood. And, in this neighbourhood, there's really no one to run amok with...

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  11. Mark--The people who used to live over us would party all night. One of the guys in maintenance told me they called him to repair something at 2am and acted as if it were nothing unusual. One day, one of their drunks came to my place by mistake, pounding on the door. Startled, I jumped up. The power cord on my laptop was wrapped around my foot. The laptop went crashing to the floor. I jerked open the door and yelled, "Got any last words?"

    He almost dropped his case of beer in his attempt to get away....

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  12. I'm sitting here looking out my living room window. The soccer ball just hit the window of one of the apartments being remodeled across the courtyard. If they'd broken it, management would have been very unhappy.

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  13. Call in Clint Eastwood to scowl at them.

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  14. When I read the warning over at Facebook I almost didn't read this. But, obviously I did.
    I have three kids (two tweens and a teen) and we live in a subdivision. During the summer, approximately twenty to thirty kids come out of the caves and shake off their hibernation. (My kids are the few who still go out during the winter) There's soccer, baseball, frisbee, tag, you name it. However, these games are played in the incredibly NOT busy cul-de-sac or in one of our yards. "Ours" being one of the parents of said children. I would never dream of allowing my kids to play in someone's yard who didn't want them.
    Now, regardless of the fact that the kids stay out of other yards (there is, of course, an occasional rogue ball who refuses to stay out of the yards), there's still neighbors who complain about the noise. Here's my thing...those of us who are home during the day are typically home mothers, or retirees (none on my street). THe kids are going to have to play somewhere, and as long as they're not disturbing anyone, let them play.

    By the way, the couple who constantly complain about MY kids making noise has an incredibly bratty daughter who screams at the top of her lungs for fun. No, seriously, she'll stand in her yard and scream.

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  15. Complaining about kids laughing and yelling is unreasonable. I don't have a problem with that. I have issues with having my windows broken. This courtyard is far too small for kicking a soccer ball around. There's a larger courtyard in the complex. If they were playing there, they wouldn't likely break anything. But the rules here state that parents have to be with kids under 12 (I think it's 12, I'm not sure). I'm guessing their mothers just don't want to have to walk over there with them.

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  16. Before my above ground pool collapsed, I had to put a chain with a heavy duty lock on the deck door to keep people out because if some asshole decided to wonder onto my property, despite signs saying piss off, and wonder into the pool and fall in, I could be liable. Damn litigation happy society and damn worthless government for allowing it.

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  17. William--they probably wouldn't pay any more attention to Clint Eastwood than they do to that sign. This isn't exactly a think tank.

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  18. We never have fenced in yards in military housing and I HATE it that all the neighborhood kids run around my back yard even when we're not out there...and whenever I am out there w/my girls or grilling, maybe I don't want the whole damn neighborhood coming over! And of course I don't want some kid to get hurt playing on my child's jungle gym! And what the hell are my neighbors thinking anyway? There are always little kids, some 4-5 yrs old just playing all over the neighborhood by themselves!!! I just don't think that's smart. AT ALL! Nor is it legal on base anyway. Would it be unneighborly of me to get an electric fence?

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  19. I wouldn't worry about being un-neighborly. That damn soccer ball clipped my window today, and I've really had it.

    It's the same here. These kids are mostly very young. If any adults are out there with them, they're doing an excellent job of concealing themselves.

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  20. This sounds a bit like when they re-introduced wolves to Montana and Wyoming! Let's hope the wild kids don't start eating the livestock and pets! :-)

    Has to be extremely frustrating, Norma. Sorry to hear it.

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  21. No livestock here, EJ, but a few of the dogs are of an advanced age and might not be able to run fast enough to get away.

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  22. Good for them!!! There is nothing wrong with having a yard sale in front of your house, nor is there anything wrong with selling lemonade...so what makes selling Girl Guide Cookies any different? That is completely insane and assinine!!!

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  23. Let's cross our fingers for that legal motion!

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  24. I have this problem with the golfers.

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  25. Call in Dick Cheney, Eve. tell him the golfers are lawyers, and let nature take its course.

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  26. Hey, now there's an idea!

    Collin and I came home today and the first thing we saw as we came up the walk from the parking lot was a broken window in one of the apartments being remodeled. I don't know if the kids did it, but if they did, I'm surprised they're still out there running around.

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  27. Oh God, that would drive me mental. I think people need to be respectful all round -- of everyone's rights!

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  28. Bravo, Norma, for holding firm! Where is this coming from, what's mine is everybody else's and what's their's is their's? I'm totally sick of it. Kids should be taught to respect other people and their property. I don't have to let kids play on property I own. I don't have to put myself in a position to be sued. I don't have to do a lot of things. That's why people buy property. The basic premise of home ownership is the 'right to quiet enjoyment.'

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  29. You're right, Kittie. I've never wanted to own property because I see too many homeowners forced to sell under eminent domain. But a yard with a very high privacy fence is very appealing.

    Homeowners can be sued, however. That's what my parents were up against when we wanted a pool. Even if you don't invite your neighbors over, if they come and get hurt, you're liable. That's not fair, either.

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  30. I remember a time when parents actually taught their kids respect.

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