I was sitting outside a few minutes ago. Out there, on this beautiful day, under a sky as blue as the best day from your childhood summer holidays, I realized there was a distinct possibility that I might succumb to what my lawyers would surely claim to be temporary insanity. Yes. If I hear the word “Daddy” one more time, I may not be able to control the impulse to scale the six foot fence that separates me from what – in this moment – I am sure is the most annoying family ever.

I have moved a few times in my life. I’ve lived in apartment buildings, and shared houses. In one place there was a woman who lived next to the laundry room, and would leave notes on the door asking fellow tenants not to do laundry because she was studying. When I went ahead a did a load of clothes once, she knocked on my door, gave me a stern look, and silently thrust a pair of my own freshly washed undies at me on the point of a pencil – I assume like evidence of my crime.

In another place there was a guy that developed some kind of crush on me. He lived directly above us, and I would hear his alarm clock ring seconds after mine. Then he’d just casually show up in the lobby every morning as I left for work. If I was out sunning on our tiny balcony, he would hang over his railing, pretending to water his plants. The creepiness culminated when he knocked on our door and handed my room-mate an airline ticket for me – just in case I felt like tagging along on his vacation. I did not even know his name.

In another house, the girl that lived upstairs would have defiantly loud sex, yelling all kinds of profanities, and yelping as though she were being attacked by fire ants. My cat would stare in horror at the ceiling, terrified.

Yet, none of those freaks filled me with anything near the rage that this ostensibly lovely suburban family of four next door do.

I hate them. Can I say that? Doesn’t that make me, like, the worst person ever? I know it does. I know it, and yet if I could send some sort of robot ninja drone over there right now, armed with canisters of gas that would freeze them into unmoving silence but not harm them, I would. Right now.

First off, they all have hillbilly names: lots of hyphenated words strung together, and initials standing in for real names. Secondly, the Mom is one of those super-intensely NICE people. There’s no way that’s for real. She actually says stuff like: “Children, now children, it’s time to listen to Mommy for a moment.” She says it in this annoyingly sugary voice too, with a lilt – you can almost see birds and mice tidying up behind her while the dwarves are out mining diamonds. She could burst into song at any time, but the kids just continue to scream, or climb all over everything, and run around like wild goats.

The other day, one of the kids was screaming so loud, and with such intensity that I finally got up and actually left my house, bracing myself on my way over there for the murder scene that must surely be playing out. I was seriously afraid of what I might encounter. Just before I crossed into their yard I could hear Snow-Honey-Boo-Boo-White’s voice murmuring away that she understood why little J.R.-B.R.A.T was upset, but it was time to start calming down now. Now? After only fifteen minutes of blood curdling screams? Oh, why not let the little angel express himself for a bit longer?

These kids scream and yell pretty much morning to night. I don’t know what’s going on in their house – I suspect a marijuana grow-op fills all the habitable space, because no one ever seems to have to go to work, and they are practically never inside. That would be the best criminal cover ever. Plus it could explain how Mommy stays so mellow.

Here are a few highlights from this morning alone:

“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! (times one thousand).

“Are you peeing in there? Don’t pee in the pool. I can see that you are. You know that you’re supposed to do that on the toilet. We pee in the toilet! We pee in the toilet! We pee in the toilet!” (thank you, Big-Daddy-Wart-Hog, now the whole neighbourhood is brushed up on hygiene. In the toilet you say? Hmmm.).

Several minutes of screaming, followed up with several more minutes of incomprehensible yelling of what I assume to be words, precipitated this authoritative parenting gem from Mom: “Toot Toot! All aboard the Naughty Train! Toot Toot! The Naughty Train is leaving the station. Who’s naughty?”

The wailing continued until Big Daddy barked out “That’s Enough!” My dog, and all the little bluebirds that were folding laundry crouched down low to the ground in fearful surprise. A few blissfully silent seconds followed, but it was not to last.

I know kids are noisy. I’m not a Grinch. I like to hear kids having fun. I understand that sometimes they are going to cry and even scream. But there is something pathologically off about this gang of freaks next door. I am a parent, and I’ve been around a lot of children. In my opinion this parenting style of just letting your kids go mental all the time is not doing them any favours. The unmitigated lack of self-awareness that allows people to assume that their little angels are the centre of everyone else’s universe too is ridiculous. Unless the parents next door are seriously hearing impaired, it is impossible for them not to know that literally everyone in the neighbourhood is being forced to listen to the whole family scream and carry on day and night.

My freakin’ civil liberties are being trespassed upon. I may snap.

And do what though? March over there and be all huffy, demand that they shut their brats up? Mighty neighbourly. Send a basket of fresh muffins over there anonymously, with each muffin containing a little note suggesting that perhaps they might consider lowering the volume on their wonderful childish fun? Not likely. Maybe I’ll just stuff some Valium into bubble gums and toss them over the fence.

Maybe they’ll go away on holiday soon. Maybe the kids will develop laryngitis. Maybe I’ll have some friends over for some fake late night ritual chanting, sure to scare the bejeezus out of any Disney princess, and they will move away.

Until then, I will try and enjoy these beautiful days. Just now I’ll be wearing ear plugs.


One thought on “Neighbours

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