When we first moved into this house, our girls were the only children on the block. All the same neighbors I grew up with still lived here except now they were retired or widowed. The man across the street from my parents remarked how nice it was to have some little kids running around again.
Then, one lady's grown daughter moved back home with her three children. Then the folks next door had their children and grandchildren move in as well. You would think with all these adults living in the same house with all these children, that everyone would have plenty of supervision, right?
These children slay me. They used to just open our backyard gate and ask if they could play. I mean they would just walk right in our backyard! I had to tell them they could not do that. Then, little boy from next door would open our gate and just stand there watching us swim. Um. Wow. He didn't speak English then, but he understood to scoot when I came crawling out of the pool and marching straight for him! It really worried me because I could just see him coming in when we weren't home and drowning. Needless to say, we lock the gate now.
Across the street girl and our girls play a lot together. But she'll come over to our house and ring the doorbell 5 or 7 times a day! Actually, that's not quite true. Each time she comes over she rings the doorbell multiple times until we answer. So what's that....60 times a day? ARGH. I had to tell her not to do that.
I have to go outside with my daughters if they are going to play in the front yard. I have 6 really good reasons why. First of all, we live on a main thouroughfare through our neighborhood and cars go really fast. The friends across the street dart back and forth without so much as a sideways glance and I do not trust my daughters to not be influenced by that bad behavior.
The other 5 reasons live in a large circle around our house (probably less than a mile square) and can be found on the sex offenders list. I've looked at the map.
Anyway, I end up being the neighborhood babysitter when we play in the front yard. I've hesitated to let friends play in our backyard because playing in the backyard invariably leads to coming right on in the house and I don't feel comfortable having children whose parents I barely know playing in our house. Especially when no one knows where they are.
I share all this to ask you a question. We have a pool. It's just an above-ground pool from Target. But it's the only pool on our block that I'm aware of. The kids next door jump on the trampoline and watch us swim and ask every day if they can come swim. The kids across the street have asked if they can come swim. They've only played with that one little girl 3 or 4 times but she asked if she could come over! I am appalled at children asking if they can come swim. I've talked to my girls about how we do NOT invite ourselves places.
Can you imagine walking into a friend's house (as an adult) and seeing a beautifully decorated cake sitting on the cabinet and saying, "Ooooh! Can I have a piece of cake??" Can you imagine doing that? I do not want to teach my girls to behave that way. You don't see your neighbor having a party and yell over the fence, "Hey! Can I come??"
I do not want these kiddos coming over to swim. I'm sorry, but I don't. I do not want to play lifegaurd and spend an hour saying, "don't hang on the side of the pool like that. Stop that--it's not safe. Quit getting in and out, you're getting grass all in the pool......" etc. etc. etc. Well behaved children who have actually been taught some manners might be a different story. And inviting one means an instant invitation to three at once with brothers and sisters. And I have no doubt they would call a friend to come over too!
Plus, once they've been over to swim once, how will I EVER get rid of them?? They'll be bugging us all day. I'm already glad we are still doing school so when these kids are out and come knocking (or ringing) we can honestly say, "Sorry. We are doing school right now."
Am I awful? I suppose I should be thinking of ministry opportunities and we do try to give a lot of attention to the little girl who they play with a lot because she seems lonely. She has horrible excema and I gave her some lotion for it. We try to love on them and be nice and friendly. The girls just smile and nicely say, "Not today" when the kids ask if they can swim. Back in the old days I suppose I could have invited them in for milk and cookies and really invested in these kids' lives. Today--I have concerns about that.
OK. So how do you handle neighbor kids?