Author Topic: We don't want to play fetch.  (Read 6921 times)

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Coley

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We don't want to play fetch.
« on: October 09, 2013, 05:46:41 PM »
We don't have a good relationship with our next-door neighbors. The household includes two adults (man and woman) and three children (a girl who is 13, and two boys who are probably 8 and 6). Just by way of a bit of background, these neighbors have a swimming pool that is right next to the fence that adjoins our yards, and they have an outdoor speaker system that is aimed directly at our house. Swimming and music run every day, all summer from about 9:30 a.m. until about 10:30 p.m. and sometimes later. The music is very loud. We have attempted to speak with them about it, and they have proven themselves to be the most entitled, boorish, obnoxious people one might encounter. Please just trust me on that. They perceive they have the "right" to play their music however they prefer. We can hear it in our house with the doors and windows closed, if that gives you any idea what we're dealing with. It is nearly impossible for us to enjoy our own yard due to the volume of their music. During pool season, we frequently find their pool toys and trash in our yard (snack wrappers, chip bags, soda cans, drink bottles, etc.).

Once they close their pool for the season (thank goodness), we encounter a different problem: The two boys are unsupervised outside while they play. From that point on, we continue to find their trash, but the boys play in the area that adjoins the fence. They lose control over their toys (boomerangs, frisbees, various balls, etc.) and they fly over the fence into our yard. Here's what happens when a toy lands in our yard:

Two boys go to our front door. They ring the bell. If we are not immediately at the door in seconds, they commence with banging on the front door. They bang on the door and ring the doorbell constantly until someone answers. That could be a matter of 20-30 seconds. They peer into the side window right next to the front door. When we arrive at the door, typically, we see two foreheads pressed against the side window and two pairs of eyes staring at us. Open the door, and the boys say, "Our ball is in your yard. We need you to help us get it." They can't access our yard independently.

DH or DS will go outside, locate the ball, and return it to the boys. Within 10 minutes, two boys go back to our front door. They ring the bell. If we are not immediately at the door in seconds, they commence with banging on the door ... you get the picture. This may happen several evenings per week.

On some evenings DS has gone out more than twice to retrieve their errant toy. And yet again, the same situation repeats itself. If we decide not to answer the door, sometimes they will bang on it and ring the bell for 10 minutes until they decide to stop and go home. In some instances, they have tried to open the front door, which is always locked.

We think we need to institute some rules with these boys, who evidently have not figured out that they probably should be farther away from the fence when they play outside. We think that retrieving their toys for them every time they come to the door is not the way to reinforce the behavior we would prefer, which is that they should do a better job of being responsible for their toys. We also think that it could be helpful to help them learn some manners about ringing doorbells and knocking on doors.

So far, we have decided to stop answering the door after the first time we've helped them find a toy. If it happens again in the same evening, they are out of luck. DH or DS will go out at another time, find the toy, and toss it back over the fence into their yard. If it isn't convenient for us to help them at the exact moment they are at our door (e.g., we're eating dinner or watching a movie), we may choose to ignore them or we may tell them that it isn't a good time. In both circumstances, they have to wait until it is convenient for us to find the item, at which time we will toss it over the fence.

If they bang on the door repeatedly or ring the bell more than once, we will not answer the door. If we see their faces in the window by the door, we will not answer the door. We would plan to tell the boys about these rules so they know what to expect.

Does what I'm suggesting seem reasonable? I know it crosses the line into disciplining someone else's kids, but these two adults next door aren't supervising them and probably are clueless about what they're doing. We have no reason to believe that they would do anything about it given our previous interactions with them. Since the boys' behavior directly affects us, we think we have some standing to correct it. I do want to emphasize that we have no desire to "teach them a lesson" by keeping their toys.

Thoughts?

Arila

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2013, 05:56:06 PM »
As an all-grown up (mostly!) young woman, I am eternally grateful that my aunt finally pulled me up and taught me some phone manners. The boys don't knock on their own front door, so the parents don't have the opportunity to teach them these valuable manners. It's your property, and I think you are fully within your rights to set parameters for behavior on it.

Also, you are a lot more patient with them than I would be. Toys would start being found in the trash (under/covered with the most disgusting parts I could find!) if this was happening to me. Or maybe "You can certainly have your toy back, so long as ALL of your trash goes back with you as well!"

I'm so sorry for your living situation. :(

Alpacas

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2013, 06:07:27 PM »
Your Situation reminds me of my Aunts situation.

In the beginning the gave the kids the toys back but after i she overheard the mother saying "Good. Its okay if it goes over the fence into the female dogs vegetable garden". My Aunt was livid and stopped
Once a ball fell onto their property it was theirs.
The first time it happened she told the children and parents "If this happens again i won't return the Ball and you're not allowed in our yard."
At the end of the year she had a collection of balls and frisbees that she donated

So applying this to your Situation i think that even if the parents knew that the kids ring your doorbell that often, they wouldn't care.

I'd stop giving them their balls back and i'd tell them why.
Next time they come over to retreive their balls just calmly state that this will be the last time for a week/a month/ever that you give them their toys back.
You can establish either a set timeframe when they'll get their toys back, say a week or a month, or you warn them that you'll donate their toys to charity if they can't keep their toys from flying over the fence.



ETA:

In your headline you said "We don't want to play fetch." The answer is simple. Then don't  :D

flickan

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2013, 06:39:21 PM »
We think we need to institute some rules with these boys, who evidently have not figured out that they probably should be farther away from the fence when they play outside. We think that retrieving their toys for them every time they come to the door is not the way to reinforce the behavior we would prefer, which is that they should do a better job of being responsible for their toys. We also think that it could be helpful to help them learn some manners about ringing doorbells and knocking on doors.

Yes, you are definitely reinforcing bad behavior by continuing to retrieve the toys.  But I wouldn't worry about teaching them responsibility or manners, that's their parents job.  I think your energy would be best focused getting them to leave you alone.

You have it right on with not answering the door.  I think laying out the ground rules is very fair of you.

What I think would be even better, albeit more confrontational, is to say to the kids the next time this happens, "If you want your toy, send your parent over here to get it."

Normally I would not advocate this kind of interaction but this is extreme behavior and warrants a harsher reaction.  Parent may be annoyed, but so what?  This is your opportunity to tell them that the boys have been harassing you repeatedly.  Now maybe the kids won't think anything of running to get their folks but more likely they'll think they're going to get in trouble and that's exactly what you want.  Make the kids think that they will have to put more effort and get more parties involved in getting that toy back and they're not going to expend the effort.  If you're really lucky they'll get the hint right away and leave you alone.

Getting you to work is easy right now, you're already doing the work for them.  You have to get them to work and then reinforce!

Kids are inherently "trainable".  So are adults, for that matter, that's why you're opening the door every time-- easier to just do what they want than put in the effort to change the behavior.  And I mean that with all respect.

So flip it around on them and see if that works for you.

doodlemor

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2013, 06:53:01 PM »
Due to your kind heart, you have been patient for too long.  Choose some boundaries, and stick to them. 

I found your thoughts on rules a bit intricate.  I think that since these are young boys, you will have more success if you keep it simple.  They likely are not accustomed to remembering and following directions, so less might work better. 

If you actually get to know these kids, they may turn out to be better people than their parents.  Maybe their pool behavior and noise would improve if they knew you better.

Perhaps you could discuss with them some ways to keep their toys and trash out of your yard.  It may be that their parents give them absolutely no guidance when it comes to common sense behavior.  I don't think that it would be unreasonable for you to give them an hour or so once a week to pick up their stuff from your yard, trash first.  The frequency, of course, would depend on your climate and how often you use your yard in the winter.

I think that I read a funny story in the archives about someone who got really tired of retrieving pool balls from his yard.  He collected them for a really long time, smushed the air out, and kept them in his shed or garage.  One day he blew them all up again and threw them back into the neighbor's yard as a prank.  Maybe someone else remembers the whole story.

MommyPenguin

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2013, 07:50:36 PM »
I really like the idea of telling the boys that you won't give their toy back until their parent comes over to get it.  For one, it gives you the chance to talk to the parents and tell them that this is a problem and it needs to stop.  If you want to give *them* your rules, so they know that you aren't going to deal with it anymore, then they can probably remember/enforce them better.  Also, the parents are not going to want to come over every 10 minutes all evening, so *they're* going to make the boys stop, or they're going to tell the boys no, and then the boys will know they won't get the stuff back and maybe will try harder not to do it.

If you don't want to get the parents involved, then you need to tell the boys, not what *not* to do, but what you expect them to do.  It's much easier for kids to understand the positive than the negative.  You can say, "If you need to get a ball or frisbee or anything that goes in our yard, we will get it for you *one* time a night, and that's it.  You must walk over and knock on the door or ring the doorbell *one* time.  Then you must wait 20 seconds before knocking or ringing again.  If we don't answer after the second knock or ring, then we are busy and you need to try again later.  That's it for the night.  Anything else that comes over the fence is ours until the next day.  You need to find someplace farther from our fence to play in our yard so this doesn't happen so often.  If you bang on the door or ring the bell repeatedly, we won't answer and you won't get your stuff back."  Something along those lines, depending on what you are willing to do.  Tell them what they need to do, rather than focusing on what not to do.

hobish

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2013, 07:59:19 PM »
I don't think it crosses the line into disciplining someone else's kids at all, but maybe i'm an old crankypants (I'm not, i swear! I just play one on TV!  :D) I actually like Alpacas version of the same idea even better. It is stricter, but simpler, too.

ETA: I have to log off, but i wanted to add ... I remember you posting about those neighbors before. I hoped it had gotten better :( I am sorry it hasn't.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 08:02:10 PM by hobish »
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Zilla

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2013, 08:08:56 PM »
I agree with others, get the toy the first time.  Then if it happens again, tell them to have their parents get it.  And that from now on, only the parents can ring your doorbell.


Pick up the trash and toy and place it in a bag and put it by the front door.  Then when the parent comes, hurridly give them the bag and say that you don't mind getting it once, but not several times a day.  Say oops got something on the stove and goodbye clearly and close the door.  Say it all very rushed and hastily.  Don't engage. 


If you see the boys again, shake your head at them and walk away.  Don't answer the door.


YummyMummy66

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2013, 08:11:01 PM »
I would actually go over and have a chat with the parents first.  I would let them know that you are not sure if they are aware of this situation, but it is time for it to stop.  You are just letting them know that you willl no longer be answering the door several times a day to retrieve their child's toys.  You might do so once, but after that, the toy either becomes yours or you will throw it over when you get a chance to do so.  They might want to suggest that they teach their boys to play throw further away from your fence so that this situation does not happen.

They may call you mean, but tough luck.

Or what you could do, is before you do the above, each time these boys come to your door, get their toy, but instead of giving it to the boys, take it over their home, and ring their doorbell and give it to the parents.  After the third or fourth time, the parents answer the door, I would then tell them the above and why you plan to do what you plan to do about not getting the toys every ten minutes, since now that they know what it is like, I am sure that they will agree with you.

As for the music, I would get my own speaker and play the hokey pokey all day long.  Or polka music.  Or church music.  So, that they hear it like you do. 

Oh Joy

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2013, 09:13:23 PM »
I would make it even more simple, and tell them that once every weekend - at your convenience - you'll gather anything of theirs that made it over the fence and leave it on their front steps.  If there's anything they don't want to wait for, they'd best be careful to keep it in their side.

CharlieBraun

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2013, 09:25:21 PM »
I would make it even more simple, and tell them that once every weekend - at your convenience - you'll gather anything of theirs that made it over the fence and leave it on their front steps.  If there's anything they don't want to wait for, they'd best be careful to keep it in their side.

Yes.

Once a week.

Much better than once a night.

Send a note to the parents to that effect.

Also...I'd put some film or other cover over the side windows.  Really?  Peeping Toms?
"We ate the pies."

Raintree

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2013, 09:31:48 PM »
I would make it even more simple, and tell them that once every weekend - at your convenience - you'll gather anything of theirs that made it over the fence and leave it on their front steps.  If there's anything they don't want to wait for, they'd best be careful to keep it in their side.

Yes. This. And if they come knocking on your door to retrieve their toys before that, it'll automatically be increased to every two weeks.

LEMon

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2013, 09:37:14 PM »
The parents have already proven themselves unreasonable.  I would stick to dealing with the boys.

Figure out what is most important to you - how they get your attention, how often it happens, or something else.
State clear instructions, limits, and consequences.  "Ring the door once and wait for us.  If we are free, we will answer it.  If you bang on the door, we will not answer it."
Deal with only one issue at a time.  Once they have that one down, add the next.  (In my example, you would then go to only answering the door once a night, or whatever.  Again with a clear statement of how it will go.)
Hold to what you said.  Do not give in this once.

Boundaries are polite if politely handled.

JenJay

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2013, 09:51:34 PM »
I would make it even more simple, and tell them that once every weekend - at your convenience - you'll gather anything of theirs that made it over the fence and leave it on their front steps.  If there's anything they don't want to wait for, they'd best be careful to keep it in their side.

I agree! And I'd tell them if they come over and knock repeatedly I won't return their things until Sunday night.

delabela

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Re: We don't want to play fetch.
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2013, 09:52:20 PM »
I'm usually a big fan of giving a decent amount of leeway to neighbors, but this is over the line.  I think the kids probably literally don't know any better and need it explained.  Next time, get the toy the first time, then let them know it will be the last time until (whenever).  Then stick to that.  I would maybe suggest to the boys they might want to play farther from the fence.

I would actually not bother with the parents.  They've shown themselves to be boorish and entitled.  They aren't going to fix this, even though they should never had let it happen in the first place. 

(And this thread makes me appreciate my neighbors)