We live in a neighborhood that is in transition. The houses were a subdivision built in the early nineteen-fifties to accommodate the baby boom families. The houses are not the highest-quality stuff, and the houses are all about 16 ft apart, but this has always been a fairly nice neighborhood to live in.
In the past couple of years the houses on our block are starting to develop a little pocket of gentrification. I'm not sure if families like this tend to be transient or what, but a lot of them have been moving in and out of houses nearby in the past year or two.
There are a lot of people involved in this situation, and I don't know everyone's names, so I will be arbitrarily making up abbreviations for people. Here is a little map of the homes being discussed:
|A| |B| |C| |D| |E|
I live in house C. The new neighbors I discuss below are A and E. House B contains a couple who bought the house when it was constructed. Neighbor in house D just moved in a few days ago.
At this time, houses two doors down from us on each side (houses A and E) have families occupying them where the mothers in the two homes are sisters. I will refer to them as A and E. I will refer to their kids collectively as 'the cousins'.
At first, one of the little girls, H, who is about the age of my daughters would play with my girls. During this time period I did not mind if the cousins from the two households played in our yard and with our things because they were all being fairly friendly to us.
Not long after this it began to become clear that the cousins had never been taught to respect other people's property (I forget the exact incident, but something of ours got broken). They also began making comments about our family being dirty and stinky. At first I thought this had to do with my admittedly poor housekeeping skills, but later it became clear this was not the case.
One day, my daughter proudly proclaimed to her new friend H that she had worked hard and earned herself $17 dollars (again, I forget what she was saving up for, but it was something specific). Suddenly each of the cousins had some hardship going on for which they each needed to "borrow" a dollar or two and all of her money was gone. When she told me about it she said they had promised to pay her back but I had to let her into the hard truth that the cousins had used her. She cried about it but she has hopefully taken the lesson away from this incident that she should not let people steamroller her.
My husband told me to go and say something to A and E but I just didn't have the right vibe about it and decided not to do so. Immediately after this the cousins began making racial comments. The neighbors in house B had their granddaughter visiting (a person my daughter considers her best friend). Neighbors B and we in C are all, we'll say, blue-polka-dotted, while the cousins are all green-polka-dotted. They will say things like, "Whoo, got too close to their fence, now I need a shower." Or, when walking by B or C property, exaggeratedly hold their noses, and fan their hands in front of their mouths while huffing. Now, B is an immaculately-kept household, so the remarks have become obviously racial at this point and don't have much to do with my actual housekeeping skills.
This Monday a woman who is a single mother moved into the house next door ('D') and realized her daughter was also related to the cousins in these neighboring houses (on the girl's father's side). E came and explained to D that they are very family-loyal, they WILL take sides, and that if their kids have a problem, "then we have a problem, too." D's little girl 'K' is just as sweet as can be and has become fast friends with my daughter and B's granddaughter, who is again visiting. Today the cousins came traipsing onto our property and went to confront the kids in the backyard. I noticed them coming through because they were making their loud, exaggerated proclamations of how much our property stinks when I popped my head out (without really processing who was saying what) and called out, "Hey, what's going on?" (We have some feral cats in the neighborhood who will sometimes leave a mess in the yard, so I thought someone was protesting of an actual smell. Whenever I find out about such a mess I take care of it right away, that's why I wanted to get to the bottom of any smell.)
The cousins then proceeded to inform them that H had heard them say her name, and K should be loyal to them because they are her cousins, and who do they think they are talking about H. I really had no idea what to do (I honestly did not have any friends as a kid because I was the kid everyone picked on in just this manner and I was never given a good solution way back then). Then my daughter said, "Mom, can you get them to stop yelling at us?" So I asked them what the deal was. They told me one of them had heard H's name uttered. I told them someone saying a name didn't really mean anything, anyone can say anyone's name at any time. How did they know they weren't just going, hey do you know H? Oh, yes, I know H, too!
They apparently decided their bullying would not work with me in the picture, so they vacated my property, all the while holding their noses and exclaiming how they all needed baths now. (There has been some anti-green-polka-dotted-people comments by my girls in recent past but I think since K is also green-polka-dotted it has relieved some or all of that problem.)
At this point I really don't want these kids on my property or speaking to my kids anymore. I have no clue what is acceptable for me to say or do about it when something like this arises. I also don't feel I can say anything to the mothers since we are apparently already sorted in the mothers' minds as some people to take sides against. Would it have been acceptable for me to tell the kids when I first noticed them in my patio to turn around and leave? What should I do when another situation arises?