Friday, January 30, 2009

Love thy neighbor

It's a commandment straight from God. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. For the most part, we have good neighbors here. To my left is a family comprised of grandparents, a mom and 3 kids just about the same ages as my children. For the first 6 months after we moved in, our relationship with these neighbors consisted of a friendly wave across the driveway. We were still settling in, and we had just been submerged into a life with children who had just been diagnosed with Down syndrome and Autism.

Then, one day, the mom came and knocked on our door. "Hi, I live next door," she said, "and I hear you have a child with Down syndrome." My defenses immediately went up. Funny. I wouldn't have thought twice about it now, but back then I was sure everyone was out to ridicule. "Yes..." I said cautiously, "We do." She broke out in a huge smile and said, "We do too!!!" Her son was just a few months older than Kennedy, and an instant bond was formed. Because both our families lead busy lives we don't get together as much as we used to, but every once in awhile we will take the time to catch up with each other. When Frank was deployed they checked in with me and made sure we were ok. They did store runs for me once when the kids were sick and my mom was out of town. It's very easy for me to love my neighbor.

To my right is a family with one teenage daughter. They are friendly and quiet and we have chatted on occasion. They actually put their house up for sale last summer and it made me sad. They're great neighbors!!! Fortunately (for me anyway) their house didn't sell. (Yet.) But see, there's a reason they want to sell... and I really can't blame them.

On the other side of their house is another family. The house is trashed. Now my house is by no means immaculate, but to compare, the police told this family to get their house cleaned up and when a cleaning crew came they had to wear hazmat masks just to go inside. Seriously. At last count they have 7 children. I think. I've seen these children outside in short sleeves in 20 degree weather. They rarely wear shoes and most of the time look like they haven't been bathed in weeks. Several times, I've seen a small child locked outside the house all day. We've called CPS... all of us. Practically everyone on the street has called. They come and they leave and the kids are still there. The mom is a known drug user and the dad stands out on the driveway screaming obscenities at his children.

When we first moved in 5 years ago, the kids would come over and ask to come in our house to play. I had already been warned not to let them in. They steal, and they beg for food, and once you feed them, they come over every day to eat. A couple years ago I caught one of the children throwing rocks at my van. I took him down to his house (he screamed obscenities at me the whole way) only to be told that he just got off restriction and she didn't know what else to do with him. Nice. The next time I was outside he came over and let me have it. In front of our kids. And so to protect our children we've had to refuse to let them in. Every neighbor on the street has had to make the same choice.

My biggest complaint however has been their dumb dog. They have a backyard with a fence, but their dog runs free. He's a friendly dog, but Kameron is terrified of dogs and so we don't go outside. Ever. One day the dog came up to our van door just as Kameron opened it to get out. He screamed and cried and for the next month he wouldn't get out of the van until I got out and checked and made sure the dog wasn't there. The dog poops in our yards, eats flowers, digs through our trash, and barks and howls at 3am. We've all called the cops. Continuously. They send animal control who takes the dog away and a few days later he's back home again. It's frustrating.

So last night I got a phone call from my neighbor on my right letting me know that she talked to the mother of these children the other day because the kids are constantly running through our yards and bending the fence at the back of our houses. She asked the kids to stop coming through our yards. And now? She has obscenities spray painted on the street in front of her house... and we have swastikas in front of ours. We didn't even do anything!

And so, as Frank goes out and spray paints over the swastikas in front of our house, we will remind ourselves to love our neighbors. Sometimes it's not so easy.

31 comments :

Erin said...

Wow...that is a tough one! I can't believe the cops or child services haven't done anything more. I have never been in situations like this before, but when faced with a tough situation with another person who is acting obviously wrong...my husband will ask...well, did you pray for them? Ouch, right? So I guess that's all we can do for this family...pray! Good luck with your patience and love!

JennyH said...

Oh my goodness!! I guess you get some entertainment that way.

Holly Aytes said...

sorry to hear that. It is so sad that everyone has to put up w/ that! and poor Kameron :( that is horrible for him to be so scared.

Jamie said...

wow...

Jen T. said...

And I thought mine were bad!

BobbyCarol said...

Wow. I can't believe CPS and the police haven't done anything about this obviously long-ongoing situation. I'm sorry you have deal with that. :(

Crystal said...

Wow just wow, but I am not really suprised by CPS not doing anything.. They only take the kids when they dont need to or when they should be doing more to help out like from single moms without a house etc. Instead they leave these kids there because they do have both parents and a home even though it is a bad home. Doesnt make sense does it? As far as the dog issue I had a neighbor that their dogs ran free and shit in my yard I hated it. Is the paint on the city/county street? if it is I hope you call the transportation people or whoever in your neck of the woods does upkeep on the streets because there may be a violation there and plus they can clean it up.

mom2natnkatncj said...

Wow, you would think there's something that can be done. Do these people own the house or rent? If they rent maybe you should find out who the landlord is and start making complaints to him. If not then I don't know what else you can do. You would think a roaming dog constantly being picked up though would mean they couldn't get the dog back. That's such a shame. I don't know that I could live like that.

Rachel said...

Oh good lord....what a neighbor. I've had one of those once and they are NO FUN!

Hope they move soon and I feel bad for the kids that they dont have parents to teach them right from wrong or the meaning of respect!

Diana said...

Wow. Is there an HOA you could maybe call for the trashing of the street and yard? They might be ablt to force them to take care of the trashiness on their property too. I'm always shocked at how little CPS seems to do when you need them...

My Three Sons said...

Okay, I'm going to sound like everyone else here....WOW. I think you must be doing a lot of praying for that kind of self retraint. I'm not sure I would be handling it so well. But I guess if you act on it, they will do something destructive to your property. I cannot believe that the city will do nothing for your neighborhood. I don't suppose you have a home association? I know they can get things done as well. Good luck and I will not only pray for you and your neighbors, but for this family that has no respect for any of you or their own children for that matter.

MamasHood said...

Those are some terrible neighbors and you and Frank are awesome people to try and continue to love them. I don't know that I would be that big of a person.
As for the dog, my mom has a crazy friend who loves dogs. I mean LOVES them. And it would just take one phone call to her and she would be on her way to TN with a can of bear spray (which we have been told she has actually used...on the owner not the dog) to pick that dog up and find it a home where it won't wander and would be loved. Might teach your neighbor a lesson too! Ha!

Violet said...

My heart breaks for those kids and for that dog, which also probably just needs a loving home and some obediance training!

We have a 2 bedroom small rambler next to our house that is a rental. We have had some WIDE array of neighbors. One family I met when they moved in 10 years ago with their 3 week old son, I still babysitt for their now 4 children. Others have grown pot plans in the back yard and turned the attic into a storage for it, and the current one is a very young woman with two kids (her first she had when she was 14) that brings a string of creepy men by and whose daughter is constantly over. It's certaintly NOT always easy to love them! And yet, when that little girl asks to go to church with me, and her mom says yes....and she has the biggest smile comming out of sunday school... it makes it worth it!

Terri said...

My heart breaks for these children. Ugh, how frustrating.

Stephanie said...

I was thinking I had it bad yesterday. When I tell the neighbor kids that my kids can't come out to play - they don't leave! They continue to play on our porch and sidewalk, occasionally looking in the windows. Thanks for some perspective! And, yes - I'm sure that family on your block is in need of serious prayer!!

Stephanie said...

By the way...what if something terrible happens to one of these children? People will be screaming "why wasn't anything done?" Then heads will roll when it becomes known how many people tried to get them help. Maybe your CPS needs to be reminded of this.

*stepping off soapbox*

Lora Leigh said...

Oh wow...I have really noisy neighbors on one side but nothing compared to that. I am so sorry!

Bethany said...

Oh my gosh, what is wrong with people? Sadly those kids are a product of their environment!

Michelle said...

Good Lord, Renee. I can't even believe that (well, I can, but you know...). I have seen people like that and it's so aggravating. You know, that's frustrating that DFS hasn't done anything about it. It's either they take kids for no real reason or they don't take the ones that really need it! It's a flawed system which is why I feel the need to get into the profession. Good luck with all that! Better you than me! lol

Laura said...

Unbelievable!!! Now truly those are some scary neighbors. What's wrong with the government that they continue to leave the kids there or give the dog back?! As you said love your neighbor as yourself...very true. The Bible also said it isn't easy, and this would be one of those times!!!

nicki mcfadden said...

all I can say is WOW!

momof4as said...

Oh this has to be one of my biggest, biggest pet peeves if you can call it that... not a serious enough term... I agree with Stephanie, God forbid something happens to one of those kids. Look at that awful, awful Baby P case in England... heads are starting to roll over that one.

As for the swastikas on the yard... you told the cops about that? I believe that constitutes a hate crime does it not? I know that has happened to some Jewish cemeteries in my state and it has been a really big deal. (And yes... that is AWFUL too.)

Ugh. Please let them move... I really feel sorry for those kids too. How can they have a chance?

Anonymous said...

Renee,

You did make a police report and took pictures of the spray paint art, right?

It's people like this that have no idea how special they are to be able to have kids...7 at that! I always feel so sorry for those types of kids, because they don't know of any other life style.

Loving they neighbor...That's a hard thing to do at times. Good luck!

Lori Kyle

whatever to us said...

In similar shoes here as the house next to us is a rental...the neighbors moved a month ago, around the corner(we still hear the fighting like they're next door)...I feel so bad for the kids and they are definitely in my prayers. I took them to vacation bible school this summer-the look on their faces was worth the effort...sometimes it is hard to follow God's word.

Lily said...

Might sound mean but if the dog is a good dog could he somehow disappear to a good home that would take care of him properly? Then again they could turn around and get a mean dog. Are they renting or do they own the house? If they are renting the neighbors could come down hard on the landlord.

Kathyb1960 said...

OH MY GOSH! That's terrible! I hope you called the cops again!

It's really bad when you have a very nice neighborhood, and know all your neighbors, and then there is 1 bad apple! Or a bunch of bad apples!

We lived in a real nice neighborhood one time, had great neigbors...except for the one across the street. His wife was a very nice lady, lovely schoolteacher, but he had a little secret that she didn't know about until the cops came visiting. He liked to stand in the garage in his bathrobe--and flash the little kids. He tried to get a couple of them to come IN the garage, but they were smart and ran off and told on him. The rest of us peeked out my bedroom window to see what he would do.

And then there was the family who moved in across the other way, and they had late-night yelling matches. GREAT!

Courtney said...

Swastikas....can you be serious???
SO...is it wrong to go paint Crosses in front of theirs??? Man....I will be praying for these kids....so sad! They never even had a chance!!!!Sad Sad! And FRUSTERATING I am sure!

The Roberts' said...

WOW!! My advice is to keep calling the cops, CPS, and animal control. Eventually they will do something about it. If the mom's a constant drug user/dealer, can't the cops arrest her for that? I don't live in your state, so I don't know what the rules are for that. I feel so bad for those kids. They need to get out of there. We had neighbors once that lived in this house for quite some time. The son was a constance drug dealer and they had this liking to throw parties, drink, holler, use their drugs, and blast their music until 2:30 am. They had an awful, horrible mouth, constantly using fowl language. We called the cops so many times, but just like you, they never did anything. At least your cops actually showed up...we didn't even get that. So, I know exactly what you're going through. Good luck and keep trying!
Amanda R.

therextras said...

Shocking! My beliefs would be challenged by that situation, too. But loving does not mean allow them to run-over you or your children. You are doing the best you can. Hang in there.
Barbara

TheAlbrechtSquad said...

Wow girl, that's nuts. Sorry that happened to you, hopefully the crazies stay away from you.

Michelle said...

how terrible! I'm so sorry you have to deal w/neighbors like that :(