What do good windows make?

            Our neighbor likes to sleep with her windows open.  And she is a light sleeper who sleeps late.

            Our children are out of bed by 7:00.  They like to go and play outside.  I like to let them go out before it gets hot and sunny.

            Herein lies the problem.

            The first time she yelled out the window, “Can you please be quiet?  We’re still sleeping,” the boys were fighting.  Chagrined, I immediately brought them inside.  Sadly, I think that may have encouraged her.

            Now, every time they so much as open their mouths, she shouts out the window for them to keep it down, then slams her window shut.

            Keep in mind that we never let them play outside before 7:30 on a weekday and later on the weekends.  They know if there is any fighting or screaming, they will come inside immediately, and we always follow through on this.  All they are doing is playing, but this is an urban neighborhood and the houses are very close together.

            Keep in mind also that our household naps in the afternoon.  Since the aforementioned neighbor has a yappy dog, a son who likes to bellow opera, and a piano studio in the backyard, we shut the windows during nap time.  I am, after all, a light sleeper.  It is not reasonable for me to ask her to keep it down for an hour each afternoon.

            It may, however, be reasonable for her to sleep till past 8:30 AM.  And, it is surely better for the planet that she sleeps with her windows open instead of air conditioning.  She has a point.

            And so do I.  I will not tell my kids they cannot play outside in the morning.  She probably will not start shutting her windows at night.  We are at a standstill, like Van Itch and Grandpa in The Butter Battle Book. 

            Perhaps the time will come when we talk about this face to face.  Perhaps we will both be grown up enough about it to come to an understanding.  But I doubt it.  One thing I have learned about adults is that we are rarely grown ups.  We prefer the cowardly approach; we prefer to sit on our haunches assured of our rectitude.  We prefer to send little boys into battle rather than compromise or accept that there is more than one way to be right.  For all our talk of tolerance, we prefer to fight than to humble ourselves before someone else’s belief system.

            And so, she will probably continue to yell out her bedroom window and I will probably continue to ignore her and we will give each other polite smiles when we are both in our driveways at the same time. 

            And my little boys will grow up in a world of self-righteousness and anger, rather than one in which compromise is possible.

21 responses to “What do good windows make?

  1. I have no idea what it’s like to sleep past 8:30. Sounds nice. Here on the East Coast the lawn men come around 8am. There is no telling them to shut up. You get up, close the window and go back to sleep.

    She sure would hate living near us and our dog. I let her out in the morning and anyone who walks by gets a “barking at”. A loud one at that.

    Though we have a neighbor like her. Long story short…..he called me on vacation one year complaining about my dogs barking. He calls everyone when their dogs bark. He calls people whose dogs are inside. His wife came over once and told me my dog was loose. I told her I am sorry, but I just had major surgery (c-section) and I would have someone get the dog in 30 minutes. She said she didn’t care and I was to get the dog NOW. You know I walked around looking for the dog and holding my 3 day old daughter …. in MARCH! Ugh.

    good luck!

  2. When people choose to live in an urban area, they should expect a degree of noise. Children playing is not so bad. Loud music? That’s another issue.

    It seems people with loud music (I mean window rattling thumping music) will definitely not compromise.

  3. I would probably go talk to her….only because I know how I am and it would stop me from turning it into a full on war. I can be such a bitch, dude.

    one question – when she yells out the window to your boys is it polite?

  4. People who scream out the window at small children are rarely able to see the light of reason, in my experience.

    It’s not like you have Van Halen playing the morning yard sessions and breaking furniture, for crying out loud. They’re two small boys playing. In their yard. Hoestly, I think the sound of kids playing (even noisily squabbling) is pretty nice. It sure beats a yappy dog.

    IMHO she should close the window without comment (or slamming) and use the A/C for the hour or so she prefers to sleep in, but then we’re back to that whole “being reasonable” idea.

    Anyway, good luck.

  5. I don’t know your neighbor’s story, but I have been in a similar situation. I work rotating shift work. Right now, I work 10.30 at night until 8.30 in the morning. That means that during the day, when people are outside (children playing, people coming and going, landscapers mowing the lawn), I’m trying to sleep. I know that I can’t expect them to all be quiet for me, but I do know that there are a lot of people in similar situations. Maybe this woman works very late, or has an odd work schedule. She can’t expect your children to be quiet, but it is very frustrating when you just want to sleep and can’t. And maybe this could be a way for you to be a good neighbor and have a ‘teaching moment’ with your sons. I’ve found that far, far to many parents forget to teach their children to consider the other side of the situation. (Not saying you are, but it’s pretty common, you must admit.) Hopefully, you can someday build a relationship with this woman, or at least come to some sort of understanding.

  6. WHen she yells out the window, it is usually to me, I think, and she sounds more exasperated than rude. I think she just wants the noise to stop, which I get, but I also can’t tell my kids never to go outside.

    It is a teaching moment — they are always reminded that they cannot yell outside in the AM, and we go inside the minute they do. They now know “neighbor sleeping.”

  7. Could you buy her some ear plugs? And stick them in her mail box?

    What? Me? A conflict avoider? Never!

  8. Gwen suggested what I was thinking. I’ve found some great earplugs that block out almost any amount of noise (they’re great for Saturday mornings when my husband takes the kids and lets me sleep in). Maybe you could tuck them into a basket of muffins and leave them on her porch.

    Beats some other things you could leave on her porch. 🙂

  9. when my kids start screaming at one another outside, which, sadly, they will do, i make them come in. no one needs to hear that — not even me and my husband, but that’s another story…

    if your kids are shrieking, i can see her point. but it doesn’t sound as if they are.

    could they play on the other side of your house in the mornings?

  10. In our coop there is actually a rule that people (and animals) need to try and be quiet from 10pm until 9am.

  11. I would not want a full-out war with my neighbor. Personality-wise, however, I know I couldn’t just let it go on as is because hearing exasperated yelling out the window at my kids, especially when we were trying to be thoughtful and reasonable, would make me increasingly resentful (and start thinking dark and horrible things towards her and her family). And I wouldn’t be able to smile politely across the driveway.

    I would have to knock on her door and see if we could resolve the situation together.

    Of course, if that didn’t go well, the dark and horrible thoughts would fly like crazy.

    Let me just shut up and say GOOD LUCK.

  12. When my 2nd son was first born & I’d sit & nurse him, the older one would run. Back and forth. Run to me, sitting on the couch – then to the door – then back to me… We live in an apartment.. the downstairs neighbor was not too happy. She started banging.

    So, I piled the kids into the double stroller & went downstairs. I figured if she saw them – if she saw me – we could talk it out. THis frail little old lady opened the door. We talked. She said “I’m sorry, but I just got back from the hospital… it’s too much for me – the back & forth.”


    I’m not one for conflict, but I think for something like this you have to take the bull by the horns & work out a compromise for everybody. She might not know that you are trying to keep the boys quiet…. or that her son’s piano bothers you.

    AND – like the first commenter said – at my parents’ house in the suburbs the landscapers mow 8 am. Every weekend. It’s noisier there than where I live!

  13. I am one of those who can´t sleep with closed windows – and I also have loud kids next door. And I´m not a bad person and I´m not yelling at them, but I can feel that I´m becoming a serial killer soon, who is specialized on babies. But these children are real bastards with bastard parents – older boy is 12 now and already smoking, girl is 4 and I guess that she wants to become singer (cause she is yelling “you´re my sunshine” at 9 a clock in the morning below my window), but she has no talent at all etc etc.

    And I also have two dogs, but I have trained them so that they know that barking with no reason is not allowed – if people have no will to train their dog, they shouldn´t have them. Having a dog in a city is a privilege, not a civil right.

    But I also think that you should talk with your neighbour about at what time she wants to sleep and at what time your children are having a nap. You know, like CIVILIZED people or smth?

  14. Yep. That just about sums up our world. Sad, but true. Even the simplest things seem to be so difficult to solve.

    BTW- are you okay over there? I heard there was a pretty big earthquake near you. Everyone okay?

  15. I like the basket of muffins idea. Seriously, if you have to live next to this lady, it is worth talking it out. Maybe show up with something yummy and an offer to talk about it. Or just tuck a note in the basket with your number or an offer to come over and chat if she wants. She may not be reasonable, at which point, you just keep doing what you are doing. But at least you tried. It’s worth it to have a good, or at least civil, relationship with your neighbor.

  16. Oh this is such a tricky one. I would definitely go round and talk to her because she is next door and in my experience, once people have been heard out, they become much more pliable and open to compromise. Maybe there’s a win-win situation possible where she keeps the noise levels down at naptime in return for the boys playing outside a little bit later. I don’t know, but I guess I would favour a very friendly chat myself. I still believe a world of compromise is possible.

  17. so true. let usknow if you take any grown-up action. 😉

  18. this is a tricky one. if it were one-sided, it would be one thing, but since you’re each trying to sleep when the other is being noisy, i think you need to find a middle ground –

  19. So tough. I have always been blessed with the best neighbors on the planet, but they will be leaving in a year, and I’m terrified to think of what may happen then. Our kids go sit on the wall at 7 a.m. and talk to each other.

    Your situation, however, needs some sort of resolution. I don’t let my kids scream outside before 8 a.m. (in fairness to the other neighbors), but if you are being fair, they need to respect you as well.

    Nothing is worse than people politely smiling at one another in the driving but cursing each other under their breaths. I would talk to her. Yappy dogs are horrible and should not be left outside.

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