I think I could describe my set of neighbors in one sentence: I have the best of the best and the worst of the worst. In all fairness, the good far out weigh the bad in numbers though. We have lived next to three of our closest neighbors for all...or most of the 12 years we have lived here. We have all been friends. Our kids have been best friends, and even our animals have been best friends.
One neighbor is a school teacher and for many years taught year round school while her kids were in grade school. This allowed her a month off every three months to have a vacation with them. She used to take them in to the city on "Free day" to go to the Exploratorium, the Zoo, and the Aquarium. Lucky for my kids, they were invited along, and have many great memories of those times. My older kids practically lived at her house when they were young, and often would show up at their house at the crack of dawn without my knowing it. They were early risers, so would let my kids in (often still in their pajamas). I would have to call over when I woke up to make sure they were over there. Often I would find out they had already been fed breakfast. But in this neighborhood we are like one big family, so they were welcomed in like family.
My younger kids were best friends with our other neighbors. They spent hours playing with toys out in their garage with the door up. They made cookies, and played video games, and made box forts. My kids have always felt at home there. They have learned alot from these neighbors by observing them actively enjoying their hobbies. The husband used to also take my oldest son dirt bike riding with him. He is a mechanic, so also often helped fix the bike when needed. Our kids were so lucky to have the good male role model.
Our dogs were best friends also, and when they were both alive, we would let them play with each other on the front lawn. They would sit gnawing on each other's jugular veins with a doggy smile on their face, or would wrestle with each other. When we first got our dog Tommy, their dog Annie was slightly bigger. She would pick him up with her front paws and throw him around like a rag doll. We could hear the air being forced out of his chest as he hit the ground. But he would bounce back up and go back for more. They really loved each other and got along like brother and sister.
Our other neighbors only had one child, but he happens to be the same age as my third child. They have really enjoyed spending their teenage years being friends, and those neighbors have taken my son along on camping/ snowboarding trips. They enjoy hanging out at school too.
We have other good neighbors who have been so willing to help us out, and who have been friends to us and our kids. We know their animals names too, and even greet them when we see them. We sometimes have neighborhood get togethers when we have potluck. For several years at Christmas we had a neighborhood "Christmas concert". We enjoyed being together more than the concert I think though. ;)
We do have one neighbor that is difficult to stomach. At one point, we had several men on the block with the same name. My husband, and this neighbor were two of the people who share that same first name. The kids differentiate between them by calling this neighbor "Meany P." One group of renters that lived next to him used to call him "Mr. Cravitts" (like the snoopy neighbor on the show Bewitched). I really believe this man has some obsessive compulsive behaviors, which include making sure that every house on the block strictly meets the city code. He has called in more complaints to the city than can possibly be imagined. Since I have lived here, I have gotten a notice that my dog was "running at large", that my trees over the public sidewalk were too low, and that my bushes too over grown on the sidewalk. I got another because we had left an old refrigerator outside for a junk company to come pick up. He has called on almost every dog in the neighborhood for excessive barking. Just the other day, my renter neighbors told me that their landlord had called to inform them that "Meany P." had called to city and complained that EVERYONE on this block leaves their trashcans out too long on trash day. I think the city ordinance says 5:00 pm, and "Meany P." probably has out his watch keeping track. I know I'm bad, but we had some junk sitting out front for a few days before we could haul it to the dump. I know it drove him crazy, and I"m glad. And what makes me even happier is that he probably called in a complaint to the city, but by the time they get here, it will already be gone. mwwaaahhaaaaa
Two last stories about him. When I was pregnant with my last child, my husband went out of town on a business trip. I was sick with a cold or flu, and also wasn't feeling that good with the pregnancy. I was able to get the trash out, but didn't put the cans away the next day because I wasn't feeling well. Someone called and said they were coming over. While I was waiting for them, I heard the dog bark, so looked out front. There was "Meany P." wheeling my garbage can down the street. I stopped him and said, "I think that is my garbage can". He said, "Oh, well we have a deal with the school, that we wheel the empties down there." I didn't understand what he meant. I said, "Well, I've been sick and my husband is out of town, so I didn't get it put away.". He said, "I'm sorry, I apologize, I'm very embarassed.". AFter he put my can back, I started thinking about what he said, and realized that what he does is take any trash cans that are left out and wheels them down to the school where the trash company comes and retrieves them as abandoned. Then the neighbor has to pay to have a new can brought to their house. GRRRRRRRR!!!
On New Year's Eve, our entire neighborhood all come out to celebrate and make noise at midnight. The kids all get pots and pans, even musical instruments to make noise. One year my daughter brought out a conch shell. She went over right in front of "Meany P.s" house and started blowing as loud as she could. Suddenly I looked and realized "Meany P." was standing outside at our other neighbor's house watching her. I was so embarassed. I sent my daughters friend to run and tell her that he was outside, not in his house, and that he could see her. As soon as she told my daughter, my daughter promptly turned around and aimed the conch shell right at "Meany P." Then I was REALLY embarassed. It's hard to teach your children to respect jerks. I have to admit, even though part of me gets mad at her for yelling "Take your Prozac!" when he is rude to or yells at the children, or screams at our animals, part of me applaudes her back bone. (don't tell her that :P)
I was thinking that all of us that get along so nicely should write him a letter. We should say that we notice that he isn't very happy in this neighborhood. We notice that we don't keep things as perfect as he would like. We all would like to encourage him to move to a retirement community where he can truly be happy, and where they have stricter neighborhood rules. I think we all would be happier, and our neighborhood would be as close to perfect as I could possibly imagine.