Tall fences do nothing for bad neighbors

If you’ve been around these parts for awhile, you may recall my neighbor, the light sleeper.  Rather than shut the windows, she prefers to yell out, “Could you keep it down?  We’re trying to sleep.”  Mind you, my kids are not screaming or even playing; they are simply talking as we head out the back door to go somewhere.  At the unreasonable hour of 8:45 AM.  Or 9:45 AM.

Sometimes, of course, we do let them play outside.  After the neighbor’s first objections, we have trained them that fighting in the backyard earns them a ticket in the door.  But – much to her chagrin – they shriek with delight and call to each other while playing.  And she yells for them to be quiet.  At 4:00 PM.  Because she is teaching a piano lesson.

Unless she instead mimics the shrieking.  Seriously.  She will stand on the other side of the high wall dividing our yards and mock their shrieks of joy.

I have considered going over there and asking her at just what time she considers it acceptable for my kids to make noise in their own backyard, but I am a little frightened that she is totally whacko.  Also, I already know what time she’s OK with noise because I am quite aware of when there is a racket coming from her house.

10:00 at night.

That’s when she’s playing the piano (beautifully), her teenaged son is singing opera (badly), and her dogs are yipping (yippily). I’ve thought about yelling out, “Could you keep it down?  I’m trying to sleep.”  Or maybe I should record their noise and then play it, loudly, at 9:15 in the morning.

16 responses to “Tall fences do nothing for bad neighbors

  1. mongoliangirl

    Since she seems to imitate your kids every now and then, perhaps you could teach them how to sing opera and yip and then stand them at the fence to practice?

  2. I vote for going over there – unless you really think she’s a whack job and not just a jerk – and sweetly but firmly pointing out that there needs to be a compromise on both sides. (I would not tell her what adjustmenst you’ve already made. I would suggest those adjustments as PART of the compromise, because it sounds like you’re already trying to compromise by making said adjustments.) In my experience, people are much less inclined to be assholes when they have to look you in the face.

    But if you really think she might be unbalanced, I’d find out what the rules are for noise levels in your area (the police dept. will know) and call the cops on her at 10. I’m guessing that’s the cutoff for loud noise (it is in most cities/residential areas).

    And because I’m kind of a jerk myself, if neither of those work, I’d TOTALLY tape the racket and play it back in the morning. But I wouldn’t wait until 9:15. I think I’d start at 8.

  3. She …. mocks the shrieks of joy? Seriously? She’s got to be a nut. That’s really bizarre.

    In other news, I love the great cheeks there on your banner.

  4. Mocking shrieks of joy?! She must be soul-less.

    I had a neighbor once who told me the day I was moving in how much she hated dogs. At the time we had two. She would call to complain about our dogs barking constantly! One night, she called my landlord at 3am to complain about our dogs barking! Our landlord called us the next morning, to which we informed him that we were currently out of town, with our dogs. Needless to say, she never complained about the dogs again.

  5. She Started It

    Oh that’s terrible! When we lived in an apartment two years ago, the lady below us came upstairs to tell us our kids were just stomping as loudly as they could on the floor …. when they were just walking in the kitchen.

  6. She’s definitely a nut case. I think that’s a great idea. Tape her crappy nighttime noise and play it for her nice and early.

  7. I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. It must be awful to feel as if your children are being harassed for playing in their own yard.

    The thing about kids, as you’ve pointed out, is that they’re usually noisy at pretty reasonable hours. They’re not out there at 5am or 11pm playing. And while it’s fine to ask for reasonable accommodations, it has to cut both ways.

  8. I second Marste’s comment. Even if you’re the only one to do so, deal with it like an adult, rather than doing something petty.

    And you may NOT be able to reach a compromise. Living with other humans frequently forces us to realize that you may not be able to bandage all the hurts. But no one has the right to keep your kids out of the back yard during regular playtime hours! That’s just Scrooge-esque!

    Good luck!

  9. Hilariously written!

    But that woman is off this planet.

    I think I’d choose to ignore her as much as you can bear.

  10. Cheeky Monkey

    I think it sounds like a great idea to deal with it like an adult, and you can probably even do it, being the grown up you are. I, on the other hand, would probably resort to childish and passive-aggressive taunting. More fun for me that way, anyway.

    And seriously, that woman sounds wack!

  11. I do like that last idea…But perhaps you should try going over there and talking in a civilized manner, and if she doesn’t respond in kind, then I say do whatever you like because it is WAR.

    I am SO mature.

  12. Whatever you do, I’d look at it as modelling. How would you like your kids to deal with a kid who was behaving unreasonably? You’d probably want them to not let it impede their enjoyment, but not get into a war either.

  13. I vote petty. Tape the nasty neighbor and play it back! 😉

  14. no need to return her rudeness, but i do think you can certainly tell her that your children are happily playing out of doors, and if she doesn’t like the sound of children playing during daylight hours she can shut her windows, because you are not going to keep your children from playing.

  15. I think you should. Play it back at full volume and if she complains ask her how it can bother her, when it’s her own lovely brand of music.

    How could someone with a kid, no matter the age, not remember that pre-schoolers can be loud?

  16. Oh I really, really feel for you. Having that kind of a neighbour is a nightmare. Thing is, I think you need more information. Have you talked to the neighbours on the other side of her (presuming there are any?). Only they might have found the key to dealing with her, and even if not, you might find some sympathy and solidarity.