Saturday, April 7, 2012

When Life Imitates Art, Part II

Turns out Miss Chili Pepper isn't even the hardest thing my life. While my husband was still at home on paternity leave our neighbors called the police on Maria, my four year old daughter, for riding her trike in the street by their house. The side walk ends 10 feet from the corner on our block, so it's a problem. Yet we live on a quiet street with little traffic in West Virginia, so its not like our Maria faces an "instant risk of death" due to her negligence.

My solution was to call my kid out of the street, make her do three push-ups as punishment, and then demonstrate how she's supposed to pull her trike safely across the grass.

Our neighbor didn't come out of her house to tell us directly that she disagreed with my parenting approach. Instead, she called the local police to complain about Maria--for a third time!

 After the third call, a policeman came to my house and asked to interview "the girl with the curly hair and the jean skirt". He gave Maria a bicycle safety lecture. Then the officer kindly admitted to my husband that this whole exercise was fruitless because "four year olds don't listen to anything!"

I tried to talk to the neighbors directly after this incident but they wouldn't answer the door bell. So now they just scowl every time they drive by our house. Meanwhile, I lock all the doors before I take an afternoon nap and try to keep better count of all five of my children. (I also mentally sing Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" every time Maria asks to ride her tricycle.)

Long story short, when there was a loud knock on the front door at 11 AM on Saturday morning, Jon and I woke up with a start from napping after a hard night. We were sleeping in our crowded bedroom with Baby Abigail and Miss Tess. "Where's Maria?" we both asked. "She's still upstairs, right?" "I'll go deal with it," Jon said, grimly expecting to open the front door to either irate neighbors or the police.


  1. I wonder if the policeman has children of his own or nieces and nephews. Who knows, maybe a bicycle safety lecture from an officer will make an impression on her.

  2. Here, just so SOMEBODY does this...

    "Hi Abigail! Here's your sweet little one. She was in the street, can you imagine? I thought you'd like to know. Blessings on your family. Let me know if I can keep an eye on cutie pie some time so you can nap." you can pretend your neighbors are nicer. :-)

  3. Oh, this happened to US, too! They didn't involve the police, fortunately (or maybe they tried, but the SF police no doubt had better things to do).

    A neighbor who lived across the street from us -- no one I knew, not one of the friendly ones -- saw fit to approach me one day and let me know that was "looking out the window and keeping an eye on my son" for me, whenever I let him play unattended in our driveway. Did she expect me to THANK HER for this, maybe?

    He was also 4. We lived in an exceptionally quiet, low-traffic neighborhood -- not only that, but we had moved from Tokyo, where he had been taught traffic safety in a big city with fast-moving cars, so I did trust him to stay out of the street.

    I tried to remind myself that obnoxious though it was, the woman did mean well. But I was still glad when we moved.