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Get off my F#$%ing Lawn!!!!

Photographer: graur codrin, www.freedigitalphotos.net

“Hey you DUMB S#$t’S, get off of my F#$%ING LAWN!!!!” That is what I heard coming from the front of my house Wednesday afternoon.

It was like any other weekday afternoon, until it wasn’t. My children came home from school, did their homework, and headed outside to play. They ran around playing football, and Nerf gun wars. A couple of their neighborhood friends came over and joined in the fun. They were all having a fabulous time. I had checked on them several times, and they were all playing great together. The best part (for me), for once, I was not having to play referee.No one was left out, no one was crying, and I was thrilled.

Over the course of the hour, they had begun playing hide-and-go-seek, a game that we all played as children. Just like we did as children, they expanded their playing area from our front yard to several of our surrounding neighbor’s yards. They were not causing harm or damage to anyone’s property. They were just running around and hiding behind neighbor’s trees, bushes, and garbage cans. They were hiding behind anything and everything they could hide in and around.

Many of our neighbors had come in and out of their homes to tend to their own business. When seeing the kids playing (even on their property) they smiled, encouraged and showed no signs of being bothered. One of the neighbor ladies even brought the kids each a homemade cookie. I can honestly and objectively say that the kids were probably a little loud (but it was in the middle of the afternoon) but they were just having fun and not hurting anything.

As a parent, I would not stand for my kids damaging any ones else’s property. So I was acutely aware of what they were doing in the neighbor’s yards and did not see any harm in their actions.

Here the kids were running all around having a terrific time, when all of a sudden John (this is not his real name), the mean old man from next door comes storming out of his house. Screaming at the top of his lungs towards the children ”Hey you DUMB S#$t’S, get off of my F#$%ING LAWN!!!!” I could not believe what I had heard. If it were not for the terror in the children’s eyes and their complete silence, I would have thought I was mistaken.

If he had stopped there, that would have been bad enough. However, he proceeded to scream at them with all sorts of language. Other than just wanting the kids to stay off of his property, he had no real reason to be after them. He could have easily come outside, interrupted their game and, asked them to stay off his property. But instead, John chose to use obscene language and swear at children. He even yelled “If you do it again I will tell your F#$%ING MOM!!!” Quite frankly, if he had a problem, the first thing he should have done is come and dealt with their F#$%ING MOM. I assure you I would not have tolerated him or his attitude.

However, by the time I gotten downstairs and out where the children were, he was slamming his front door behind him. Instead of being able to deal with John I had to spend the next several minutes explaining to children that I was not upset with them. That I was sorry that an “adult” had spoken in that manner to them. I then told them they need to stay far away from his yard, driveway and even sidewalk. There was no reason to give John any reason to come back outside. Although by this time they were all so frightened. John had ruined their fun and they no longer wanted to play outside. As a result, the neighbor kids went home and my four came inside.

I was furious, so much so, that I had to head inside myself rather than proceeding to his front door and tearing into him. I did not trust that I could remain calm enough to confront the man. I knew that if I was not able to stay calm I could possibly make the problem worse. So instead I went inside and waited for my husband to come home.

I will admit that the more I stewed on John’s actions the more contemplated egging his house and sending my favorite teenagers to T.P. his beloved trees and bushes (which again were not harmed by the kids in any way). Although, I suppose two wrongs don’t make a right.

I thought we had neighbor issues when, for six months, we had renters across the street that were dealing drugs. There were strange people in and out of that neighbors house all of the time and at all hours of the night. However, they were no intrusive in any way. They kept to themselves, and when we did see them in passing they were courteous and friendly. Not once did they ever say anything to my children or cause and direct issues for me. We just did not agree with what they were doing nor did we appreciate the late-night traffic they brought with them. But now, I am starting to think they weren’t bad at all compared to the nasty old man next door.

Photographer: Salvatore Vuono, www.freedigitalphotos.net

I am furious with what happened to my children on Wednesday, but I think there is a bigger issue at hand. It is so important to choose you neighbors wisely.

When you are in the market for a home, there are many factors to consider other than the house itself. Are the neighbors quiet? Is there junk in any of the neighbor’s yards? Observe your potential new homes surroundings, talk to the current neighbors, ask them how the neighborhood is and if they have any problems with anyone. Visit the home’s site at different times of the day to monitor traffic, noise and the people who come and go. The more you know prior to purchasing a new home the better off you will be.

If you are like me and you already own a home with a nasty neighbor, you may be stuck. I have been researching options for how to handle bad neighbors but everything I have read regarding bad neighbors talks about trash in yards and basic junk. So far I have not found options for handling the mean old man who lives next door.

Has anyone else had a situation with a nasty neighbor? If so, how did you handle it? Maybe your comments will give me some ideas on how to deal with John. I look forward to hearing your solutions to my nasty neighbor problem.

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13 Responses to “Get off my F#$%ing Lawn!!!!”

  • Sydney:

    I found your site from googling “Keep off grass ideas,” so it’s pretty funny (in my eyes), to read this. I’m having a different problem with a bus stop in front of my (on the corner) house and children AND PARENTS! waiting for their children to get off of the bus IN OUR YARD! Not only that, but new neighbors (the bad kind!) who’s children have been around for less than a week and have already thought it appropriate to ride their bikes across our lawn and our other neighbor! The difference with myself and your neighbor is that I yelled out the window, but said “Stay off the grass, PLEASE!” and have a sign on the fence near where the bus waiters gather (and where it is ignored). I know you wrote this over a year ago, but a good idea would have been to let your children know the man said bad words, but they can no longer play on his property since he obviously doesn’t like it. And while they keep playing, you walk over and apologize that they intruded his property, and won’t do it again, but that you will further call the police in complaint if he ever speaks at your children the way he did so. That language is not only offensive, but harassment to a child. Hopefully you came to some sort of resolve so that you and your children don’t feel bullied by a mean old man. There’s a difference between old and grumpy and verbally abusive! But kudos to you for recognizing that the children should no longer be allowed to be on neighbors private property =) Even the ones who smile as the children play might secretly wish they would stick to the public areas (me =)

  • Anonymous:

    I understand the kids are playing and having fun and the language was in appropriate. Things could have been handled differently, but people seriously need to keep their kids out of others yard!!!! I have a problem right now with the house across the street and their six children always being in my yard, messing with my dogs. They keep unhooking them and knocking over their water bowls. I feel children have little supervision anymore, and parents need to watch their children.

  • Kathy:

    Carrie,
    You’re looking at this through your loving mom eyes and seeing your kids as perfect. Look through John’s eyes for a moment. He’d put up with your 4 LOUD darlings and all their friends running circles through his yard for over an hour and the man snapped. You’re right that his language was inappropriate but the message was spot on. Keep your kids OFF other people’s property. Period. If they weren’t invited over, they don’t belong in his yard. You can go on and on about how much fun they were having and how nice it was for you to get a break, but as the parent it is YOUR JOB to direct your kids play to permissable areas: your OWN yard and public spaces. YOU NEED TO RESPECT THE PROPERTY LINE and TEACH YOUR KIDS TO RESPECT IT TOO!

    • Kathy,

      The behavior or intruding on his property has been corrected, as noted in previous comments. And really the point has been and will continue to be how inappropriate his language and actions with children were and are. I never claimed my children to be in the right just that his actions were completely inappropriate.

      ~Carrie

  • Jack:

    I wonder if the author failed to mention the full context of this situation? Maybe he’d become fed up with ongoing intrusions and got sick of not saying anything. Unless he was psycho, I’d assume the latter before concluding that he yelled with no historical provocation. Context means everything, and people often leave it out to make themselves look faultless.

    We have neighbors whom we recently learned play soccer with their little kids on our adjoining (unfenced) front lawn when we’re out. Our security camera caught it on video and it looked disrespectful, plus it explained some unexpected wear on the grass. I can understand kids doing it, but not adults along with them.

    I think it’s generally crass to run around on other people’s lawns unless a stray ball or other toy is being retrieved temporarily. Righteous indignation at getting a hostile reaction may not be justified.

  • Anon:

    I agree with Cheryl. We have the opposite problem where we’d like to keep our neighbors kids off our lawn! We have kids, too, but we’ve always taught them to be respectful and stay off other’s property unless invited.

    With today’s society as litigious as it is and as creepy as some people have become, I would be thanking him for opening my eyes to the fact that I may be not only doing things that are bothersome to my neighbors, but also, my kids should NEVER be out of my sight!

    Sorry, hon…probably not what you were looking to hear, but I think it’s *you* who has to rethink your actions….

    • Anon,

      I have no problem keeping my children off of other people’s property. Most of our neighbors welcome them playing and encourage it. I take full responsibility for not making sure they were staying off of this particular neighbors yard and should note they all know not to go near it now. But that is no excuse for ever speaking to a child in the manner that this man did. No excuse, PERIOD!!!!

      • JJ:

        Carrie, nothing in your post or replies suggests that there has been an attempt to resolve this conflict. While I agree that your neighbor’s behavior was over the top, your children were playing on his property without his permission. They were trespassing. Telling them to stay away from his property and labeling him a mean old man solves nothing.

        You said, “So far I have not found options for handling the mean old man who lives next door.” You have an opportunity to teach your children to seek an amicable resolution to a conflict. This will not be the last time they have to deal with a difficult person. Learning to face rather than avoid a negatively charged situation is a valuable lesson. I’d hate to be stuck in a stand-off with a neighbor. What can you do to change this?

  • Cheryl:

    You and your children need to respect other people’s property. Even if they aren’t hurting anything, it’s not your yard. Maybe John likes to have a nice lawn and having your kids running around in his grass isn’t something he is OK with. Just because they are kids doesn’t mean they have the right to do whatever they want wherever they want, even if they are “little angels.”

    • Cheryl,

      You are right that they have no right to be in anyone else’s yard. That is not my issue and I DO TEACH them respect for others and other people’s property. That is not the issue here. The issue was what John was saying to my children. My point with this post was that no one no matter what the situation should talk to children like he did. Period.

      ~Carrie

  • Christina C.:

    Even though I feel bad that your kids’ (and their friends’) day was ruined, I also feel some compassion for “John”. Out of common courtesy, I NEVER let my children play in/on anyone else’s property without that person’s permission. Chances are that this is not the first time these kids have played on his property, and perhaps he had been turning his head hoping it would stop before things escalated to this point. John could have all sorts of reasons for not wanting the kids on his property; maybe he has sprayed chemicals on the lawn, planted new grass, wants to make sure he is not liable for children who get hurt on his property, etc. Even though John hasn’t exactly been a good neighbor in this regard, I feel that you’re not being a good neighbor either. It’s important to teach kids to respect other people’s property and privacy. I can see it being fine that the kids are playing in each others’ yards, but it would definitely be a good idea to check with your other neighbors to see whose yards are off-limits. This will give you the peace of mind that everyone has a good time, and that the parents at the other houses are keeping an eye out in case someone gets hurt playing. Best of luck!

    • Hi Christina, thank you for the comment! I completely agree with you that children should be taught to respect other’s property, whether it’s a lawn or a car in the driveway or anything else. We certainly do our best to teach common courtesy among many other proper manners and respect. My issue is not with the actual complaint that my neighbor had–he had every right to not want anything or anyone on his property. The problem that I had is how he decided to handle it. Whether they are parents or not, almost every reasonable person understands the varying levels of maturity of a given age group. Teenagers can certainly be held to a higher standard of behavior and are expected to have have better concept of the difference between right and wrong that a 7-year-old, and in turn the second-grader knows better than a toddler.
      Could I have done a better job as a parent with regards to reminding them of their boundaries in our neighborhood? In retrospect, certainly. However, parents make mistakes as well, as I did to some degree in this case. That being said, I believe what should have happened was that I should’ve received a knock on the door from “John” asking that the kids not play in his yard. Even if he were curt with me, I would have much preferred that to taking it out on grade school children. Ultimately they are my responsibility and when I’m wrong, if you’re not going to have the patience to constructively talk to a child (and I know not everyone has that skill), then take it up with me instead of taking it out on the kids.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

  • Great post! You followed me on Twitter and I followed back. I saw in your profile that you’re a writer and decided to check out your site. I love your writing!

    As for the neighbor, I really don’t know what to tell you. I’d keep the kids away for a while. Consider the possibility that he may just be a grumpy, and LONELY old man. It might do some good to get to know him a little. If he gets to see that your family isn’t all that bad, he may come to actually enjoy watching the kids playing.
    Also, I have had the drug dealer kind of neighbors. After having someone like that in the neighborhood, you tend to be more wary of anyone on your property. “Our” dealers used our dark driveway to do their thing and we had the police thinking it was OUR house that all of the drug traffic was coming to! Though they moved away two years ago, I still jump out of bed whenever I hear anything going on in the driveway!

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