Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Self-Appointed Neighborhood Police

Last night, my son Ben and his friend Jack were walking around outside when a Neighbor Lady in the next building came out and asked them if they knew "that boy" named Jo-Jo and where he lives. Now, Jo-Jo is Jack's little brother, BUT, since Ben and Jack didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday, they recognized immediately that Neighbor Lady was gunning for Jo-Jo and they denied any knowledge of his existence. (They later excused this outright lie by saying they aren't supposed to give a complete stranger the last name and address of any kid, which is true, but they clearly only thought of this excuse after the fact.)

Neighbor Lady tells the boys that Jo-Jo has been riding his rip stick (that's a new fangled skateboard for you old timers out there) way too fast and without a helmet. Then, taking a good look at Ben and Jack, she tells them she's seen them climbing trees and they shouldn't be doing that. Then, noticing their lack of footwear, she tells them they shouldn't be walking around barefoot. Then, she tells them that they shouldn't be out this late.

Now as luck would have it, my wonderful husband took the dog out for a walk at this exact moment. He spots Neighbor Lady talking to the boys and ambles over to join the conversation. She tells him her concerns. He tells her nicely that the boys weren't wearing shoes because they are on the sidewalk right in front of our house, that they don't have to be home until 9:00 which is still a good 15 minutes away, and that we do indeed allow them to climb trees. Dear Husband being extremely good at diffusing bombs and smoothing things out, she is not insulted that he doesn't follow her advice and even tells him that the boys were very polite. Yay for good manners!

Situation resolved.

Until...... Today I went to the commissary with all three kids. While in the checkout line a woman comes up to us and says to Ben, "Aren't you that boy I talked to last night?" Turns out she is Neighbor Lady, whom I have never met before. Neighbor Lady does not introduce herself to me, simply says, "Do you know Jo-Jo's last name or where he lives?" Now, I also did not fall off a turnip truck recently. I've already heard the story, AND I've already told Jo-Jo's mom so she is aware of Neighbor Lady's concerns. And Neighbor Lady is coming across as a bit pushy and a little scary right now, so I also do not want to admit knowledge of Jo-Jo's name or current location on the planet. So I pause for a moment, trying to look as if I'm trying to find Jo-Jo's information in my brain, but really I'm trying to make a split second decision about whether or not to flat out lie to this woman in front of my kids. Unfortunately, a spit second was really all the time that was allotted to me, because I have two beautiful, normally brainy, daughters who did in fact just fall off a turnip truck somewhere.

They piped up immediately and gave his last name as well as the fact that he lives right next door to us. (Let me tell you, if looks could kill, Ben would have vaporized both his sisters in that moment.) Neighbor Lady rolls Jo-Jo's last name around for a moment and then realizes she's seen that last name written on some moving boxes which were left next to the dumpster four months ago when the dumpster was too full to actually put anything else in it. "THEY are the people who didn't put their boxes in the dumpster. Well, I'm going to have to go talk to his mother! This neighborhood is just FULL of drama!" Only because you are here, Neighbor Lady. Maybe I should suggest she get a hobby.

Anyway, I came home and squealed to Jo-Jo's mom so she knows Neighbor Lady is planning to come gunning for her. I told her that Neighbor Lady was very nice when Dear Husband was nice so that may be the way to play it. I hope this will resolve well and no one becomes offended. Or dies.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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