Kids vs. Dogs: The Battle for the Greenway

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Looking at the greenway from our back porch

Our yard backs up to our neighborhood’s greenway. It’s not a very nice greenway, but it’s a greenway nonetheless. It gives the kids a little extra room to run and play and throw the ball around. Knowing the kids had that extra space is the only reason we purchased a house on a lot as small as ours.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, the kids have been spending more time outside. They (and I) are all very grateful for this reprieve from the monotony of indoor life. Unfortunately, their time outside seems to be upsetting some of our neighbors. Why, you ask? Are my kids overly loud? Disrespectful? Leaving garbage on the ground? Behaving in any way that is unsuitable for playing in a public park-type area?

Nope.

My kids’ presence is causing the offended neighbor’s dog to bark.

Seriously.

The neighbor and his wife have, on two separate occasions now, fussed at my kids, telling them they need to get back in their own yard.

I haven’t witnessed any of these exchanges myself. They conveniently only happen when I go inside to change a diaper or refill my coffee. But I have no reason to doubt anything the kids are saying. They’re fairly honest kids and they all come running back with the same story. By the time I get outside to address the situation, there’s nothing/no one to see.

Playing some chase-type game in the greenway.

Playing some chase-type game in the greenway.

If it were just this neighbor, I’d probably just write them off as a pair of grouches and ignore the situation (unless further action became necessary) coaching the kids, of course, to always respond politely to the neighbor’s “request.” But it’s not just them. My neighbor two doors down the other way grumbles loudly enough for us to hear when she gets annoyed at her dogs barking at my kids, but hasn’t had the audacity to say anything directly to them or me.

I seriously just don’t know what to do about this.

Kids play.

Dogs bark.

What’s the big deal?

I find the barking dogs to be annoying, too, but I would never go tell the neighbors that their dogs don’t have a right to be outside. And children certainly have more rights than dogs.

I really have tried to step back and look at this situation objectively, considering the neighbors’ point of view. Despite that, I simply can’t figure out where they get off thinking:

a.) that they have a right to tell my kids where they can play

AND

b.) how they can possibly believe that other people should have to alter their behavior to ensure their dogs behave appropriately

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On a happier note, it looks like Spring has finally “sprung!”

If these people don’t like the way their dog behaves, that’s their problem, not mine, and certainly not my kids’. There are plenty of other dogs in other yards that don’t bark at my kids. It seems to me that my kids aren’t the problem; the 3 dogs in question are. Actually, like I said earlier, dogs bark. That tells me the problem isn’t even the dogs. It’s these neighbors, specifically their attitudes.

I can’t help but wonder if they are simply spoiled-rotten, selfish people that think the entire world should cater to their every whim, or if they simply don’t like kids and don’t want to see any. Regardless, the problem remains theirs, not mine.

If my children were behaving inappropriately or antagonizing their dogs in any way, I would certainly take the necessary steps to change my children’s behavior. Since they’re not, I really think these neighbors either need to get over it or take the necessary steps to change their dogs’ behavior.

What I find most unacceptable about this whole thing (even though I find the ENTIRE situation to be absolutely absurd) is that they’ve chosen to take the issue up with my kids. If they have a problem, they need to speak to me or Josh. Not small children. Especially not in the intimidating manner that they are supposedly doing it. There is simply no excuse for two adults to be intimidating three small children, regardless of what the children are doing.

So, the question is, where do I go from here? I’m simply not willing to tell my kids they can’t play on the greenway. Does that mean I need to take the initiative, go down to the neighbor’s house, and address the situation? Do I just wait, hoping to catch them in the act? Do I just blow it off? I can’t decide. I really don’t want to be perceived as an annoying or unreasonable neighbor for any reason, but my children have a right to play outside. I’m not going to take that away from my kids just to appease a couple cranky neighbors and their dogs. I would like to think that if they would take a step back from the situation they would realize they don’t really have a right to be annoyed by us utilizing one of the amenities of our neighborhood, but something tells me these people aren’t that reasonable. So…what to do now?

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Value of Handwritten Notes

Is it just me or are handwritten notes a lost art? Seriously, how excited do you get when there’s something in the mailbox other than bills? I know I get so excited! Depending on my mood, I either open the “non-bill” first (because I’m so excited) or last (to take away the sting of all the money I have to send off to other people.) With all of the technology we posses, we seem to think it unnecessary to go through the trouble of handwriting a note or card, addressing the envelope, finding a stamp, and mailing it. But, I think that “trouble” is exactly what makes it so special. When I get a little note from a MK sister, a birthday card from a family member, or a note from my grandmother, I know that they put a little extra effort into ME that day. And speaking of birthday cards, why is it that only family sends them? What’s wrong with my peer group? Of course I like having tons of birthday messages on my Facebook wall, birthday texts, and the like, but the cards make me feel really special! The sender went to the store, picked a card that made her think of me, added a little personal note, and mailed it, just so I would feel a little bit more special on my birthday. I think handwritten notes or cards speak volumes about both the character of the sender and the opinion they hold of the recipient. I think, because of the value I place on handwritten notes, I’m going to make it my new goal to mail 10 handwritten notes each week. I suspect, the more I write, the easier it will be to find people/occasions that merit a little handwritten note.  Well, what are you waiting for? Go write a little note and mail it to someone today!

The attached picture is the cover of a book  just found. I’ve never read it, but I plan to pick it up next time I’m out!

The Art of the Handwritten Note by Margaret Shepard

The Art of the Handwritten Note by Margaret Shepard

Mary’s Etiquette Lesson of the Day: Respect Your Hostess

rsvpR.S.V.P. stands for the French phrase “répondez s’il vous plaît.” It literally translates: respond if you please, but the meaning is understood as please respond.

When an invitation is marked with R.S.V.P information, one is EXPECTED to RESPOND as to whether or not they will be in attendance. Did you catch that? When the invitation says R.S.V.P., you need to contact the hostess WHETHER OR NOT you plan to attend the event.

The confusion on this matter absolutely baffles me. My mother taught me this in preschool when I first started receiving birthday party invitations. A hostess would not take the time to write out a request for a response along with the preferred methods of contact if she didn’t want to know if you were coming.

When I got married, I sent out invitations requesting an R.S.V.P. (as most wedding invitations do) and included a reply card with an addressed STAMPED envelope. Yet, somehow, invited guests failed to respond. Could you please explain that to me?? All the guest needed to do was write their name on the card, lick the envelope, and drop it in the mail. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

I absolutely love entertaining, but it frustrates me to no end when people don’t have the common courtesy to respond to an invitation. If a hostess is unprepared for the number of attendees at a gathering, it could ruin the function. Headcounts are vital to ensure enough space is available and enough food or beverages are provided. This is not a difficult concept. If the hostess doesn’t need to know how many people will attend the event, she won’t ask you to respond. If she took the time to ask, she NEEDS to know. I often hear people critiquing common etiquette practices, but this one, like many others, boils down to respect for your hostess. She took the time to invite you, so you should take the time to respond to her invitation.