Monday, August 15, 2011

Trampoline Trials

I find that as I get older and wiser, there are more and more things for which that I wish I could go back in time or retroactively apologize.

When I was growing up in England, our neighbourhood had a lot of kids. We would run around during the summer until all hours, playing our kid games and just having a fine old time. There would be other days where we’d do things like catching bumblebees off our neighbours’ lavender bush. There would be other days where we’d ride our bikes like demon riders, screaming and shouting the whole time. We’d play games like tennis and cricket and rounders and inevitably our ball would end up in the next-door neighbour’s garden and we’d have to ask for it back.

One of our neighbours was an old lady named Mrs. Olly. She didn’t like us much and we dreaded asking her for our ball back. She would shout at us and tell us to stop making so much noise. We used to laugh at her and dare each other to go get the ball.

Nowadays, I feel a little more sympathy for poor Mrs. Olly. I didn’t see this coming. One day, I’m a care free child, not worrying about the rest of the world around me, living in the now and just having a good time. Then, thirty years later, I’m seeing things through another point of view: That of a neighbour who’d just like a little peace from the neighbourhood kids.

It makes me feel rather bad for Mrs. Olly. I’ve had a few occasions where Son of Dog Whisperer is playing catch with himself in the back yard and he’s thrown the ball in my garden. Since the incident where he left my back gate open after, I suspect, retrieving his ball from my yard, I’ve chained that particular gate so that it doesn’t get left open again. This, however, means that whenever Son of Dog Whisperer’s ball lands over the fence into my garden, he comes to my front door, rings the bell and I have to go retrieve it.

It’s not so bad unless I’m trying to do something like cook dinner or read. However, I definitely have a little more sympathy and a whole lot more guilt towards doing the same thing to poor old Mrs. Olly. I know, I sound like a curmudgeon. I probably am a curmudgeon.

It’s just that I tend to try to be quite tolerant in the beginning. Sometimes, I tend to be too tolerant of the neighbour kids. See the Lemonade Stand Incident. Also, this weekend, I sold an old Game Boy at my yard sale for a very good price and I gave the kid a game to go with it it. He’s a young teen who lives three doors down from me. Yesterday, just as I’d finished breakfast, my doorbell rang. He wanted to know if I had any more games for the Game Boy he’d bought from me. Politely, I said I’d look and I’d let him know next time I saw him which is pretty often since I walk by his house with the dogs every day.

I did look for more games because I promised even though I think I only ever had three to begin with and I’d sold them at the yard sale. I figured I’d tell him that he was out of luck. I couldn’t help feeling it was a little assumptive in the first place to go ask someone that after the yard sale is done but he’s about 13 and that isn’t always the most common sensical age for boys.

I didn’t have to wait. He rang my doorbell just a couple of hours later, following up. He seemed very disappointed that I didn’t have any more games but I did tell him to look on Ebay. He bought the Game Boy, the game and the charger with a nice case for $5 so it wasn’t like I’d ripped him off. I only hope that he doesn’t come back to triple check. I don’t know how many ways I can tell him no without being a little short about it.

Still, he seems like a nice boy even if he is a bit persistent. I don’t mind him as much as I’m starting to mind Son of Dog Whisperer. I try very hard to be friendly to the child. I know he has some type of learning disability and, frankly, he’s a bit of a weird kid. Yet I try to treat him nicely even when he bugs the crap out of me. I do find it a wee bit disconcerting when he stands in the middle of my lawn, doing that “HUT!” thing with his football while appearing to stare in my window. Sometimes, when he’s playing alone, he plays with a light saber and he just walks up to me when I’m working outside, doesn’t say anything, points the light saber at me and walks away, muttering something incomprehensible.

All this, I can deal with. It’s just when he’s with his little pack of ruffian friends that I’m starting to get annoyed. In general, as a pack, they have that arrogance that only packs of children can have. They ride their bikes in the road with that confidence that the cars will swerve to avoid hitting them so they don’t really have to look where they’re going. Sometimes, one of the older girls will ride her bike, pulling a younger one who is crouched on a skateboard, behind her. They’re connected by a long rope and there are times when the skateboard is on one side of the intersection and the bike at the other. It scares me and I’m not even sitting on the damn skateboard but the kids seem to think it’s fun. All it would take is one of the cars to zoom through the neighbourhood, unfamiliar with its layout and geography of our Stop Signs and that child would be in some serious trouble.

The two little girls are siblings to Kenny who appears to be Son of Dog Whisperer’s BFF. As a group, they’re loud and obnoxious. They have no problem yelling at people when they pass by. They leave crap all over the path ways and their bikes are often cast aside wherever they feel like jumping off and running.

All this, I could deal with. It is annoying but I figure it’s penance for the years of my wild childhood and playing in the streets.

Now, it’s got worse. Son of Dog Whisperer now owns a large trampoline. The trampoline sits in the back yard. It’s got one of those ‘safety’ nets around it though I’m not sure what purpose it serves as the kids seem to be able to climb under the net and it doesn’t seem to be very stable.

For the past three days, those kids have squealed and screamed and run around Son of Dog Whisperer’s back yard like a pack of wild hyenas. They bounce and squeal. They fight constantly. They throw things at one another. Then they bounce so more.

I suppose from the point of view of his parents, buying the trampoline seemed like a good idea. Son could get some exercise and have something outdoors to do with his friends. Yay, trampoline.

Though…not yay. I can tell you what will happen. For the first few weeks, Son of Dog Whisperer and friends will bounce a lot. They will view it as a novelty. Then…they’ll get bored. The weather will get cold and that giant trampoline will sit there, gathering puddles, killing the grass underneath and just basically being a giant space-waster.

My sister has a trampoline. I’ve had friends who had trampolines. Unless a child aspires to be a professional trampoline-ist, chances are that bouncing will get old quite quickly. It’s like bouncing on the bed as a kid. It seemed like fun for a while but then it ended up being rather monotonous and that was that.

I know, I know…I sound REALLY crotchety, cranky and old. It’s just that for the entire duration of living in my house, I’ve suffered the yipping and barking of the Beasts of Dog Whisperer. There’s no control there. No matter how much I try to befriend the dogs, they keep yipping at me. Son of Dog Whisperer has been a wee bit of a pain but until the trampoline, it was easy to escape from.

Now, he and his friends are outside ALL the time. Good for parents of the child. Not so good for me who enjoys a little sanctity by looking at my vegetables and sitting out on my patio, reading. My reading is now punctuated with BOUNCE-SQUEAL-“HEY LOOK AT ME!”- “YOU’RE A DORK”- “NO, YOU’RE A DORK!” “WELL, YOU’RE A GIRL. GO AWAY. BOYS ONLY!”

I’m trying to be tolerant but, alas, it’s hard. There’s no escape and there’s very little I can do. The child is entitled to his trampoline. He’s entitled to play with his friends. He’s even bloody well entitled to that lemonade stand of his. It’s just that there are times when I can’t help but wish the neighbours could have a say in what’s allowed and what’s not. I can guarantee that those dogs wouldn’t be so noisy and there’d be no trampoline, that’s for sure.

Still, for now, I’m starting to contemplate that privacy fence again. I’m also mentally atoning for all of the times I probably had the same effect on my neighbours when I was a child. It’s a vicious cycle and now I feel bad. Poor Mrs. Olly and the other sufferers of our childhood oblivion.

I suppose the small thing to be thankful for is that we never had a trampoline because then, I’d feel really bad.

Ok…that’s my complaining for the day. It is Monday, after all…tomorrow will be better and Wednesday even best because that’s when the kids go back to school.

Poor kids. Happy Neighbours. I can live with that.

Happy Tuesday!

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