How sweet I thought to myself as I read “Dear Neighbor” while sorting through the mail. We moved to a new cul-de-sac home and all of the neighbors have been very kind. May of 2020 was an extremely awkward time to move. It was towards the beginning of the pandemic when nobody really knew for sure what was going on. Meeting neighbors while social distancing was difficult.
Safety is always my priority with Nicholas so my introductions to the cul-de-sac went something like, “Hi, I’m Valerie – this is Nicholas, he has autism, he’s non-verbal and if you ever see him out front, alone, unattended he is not allowed to be there.” The more eyes helping me out, the better!
As a neighborhood, we have since joined together not only when the ice cream truck shows up, but have gathered for a birthday and I recently held a movie night and invited all 10 Cul-de-Sac homes. This must be another “thank you” I said to myself.
Then I Read It
“We share the block wall. I’m just south of your backyard. Dear Neighbor, I know this is a lot to ask but I’m hosting 2 wedding showers for my daughter on Sat Mar 6th + Sat Mar 13th from 12pm – 4pm. I’m hoping that your son can stay out of the pool during that time. I know I’m asking a lot. Thanks”
So to be fair…., they were not invited to the movie night. They are a South, Backyard/Block Wall Neighbor (incase that wasn’t clear) and I only invited the front forward facing neighbors, so I guess my bad.
For those who do not know me, NOW may be a good time to mention that I have had some anger management issues as of late. Responding to this note was definitely going to be a good time to practice some things I’ve learned:
- STEP 1: BREATHE NO NEED TO RESPOND RIGHT AWAY
- STEP 2: ASK YOURSELF WHAT DO YOU WANT THE OUTCOME OF YOUR INTERACTION TO BE?
- STEP 3: USE WISDOM THINK, REALLY THINK IT THROUGH BEFORE RESPONDING
SO WITH ALL THOSE STEPS & THOUGHTS COMBINED I SENT THIS SUPER CREATIVE RESPONSE
“This is your neighbor Valerie. I did not get your note until today. My apologies if he was too noisy last weekend. He will not be home this weekend so it won’t be a problem. Have a great day.”
To which there was a very quick reply
“Thank you Valerie for reaching out. He was not noisy at all during the shower so I thought maybe you got my note. Thanks so much, (South, Backyard/Block Wall Neighbor)
The best word to describe what I felt upon receiving Just A Note, would be the feeling of hurt. Hurt not so much for myself, but for Nicholas. If it had been my Neurotypical children always causing a commotion at the pool, would Just A Note have been sent?
A couple days later, my 7 year old daughter came home and was excited to read Just A Note (which she found on the counter). I let her read it, since she has to do 20 minutes of reading a night anyway…., (joking of course). Actually I let her read it because she is going to be dealing with this all of her life also. She needs to know when and where to stand up for her BIG BROTHER and when to let things go.
As she read, the expression on her face went HAPPY, SAD, CONFUSED. She then asked me, “Why are they being mean to Nicky?” I told her they weren’t being mean to Nicky and explained that they don’t appreciate his songs in the same way we do.
I guess it wasn’t the background soundtrack she envisioned for her events and I suppose that is reasonable.
In the end, I think I chose the right response. Thankfully, I can appreciate someone being upfront and straightforward. There is no need to mix words with me, spit it out and let’s move on. She also acknowledged that she was asking a lot, so here is the deal:
Should you ever find yourself in the same situation as South, Backyard/Block Wall Neighbor, where a simple announcement to your guests “we have a special needs neighbor” just won’t cut it.
Say something like “Would you mind keeping ALL of your children quiet and out of the backyard and pool area. Our houses are so close and this is an intimate gathering…”.
ALSO, I WOULD RECOMMEND SENDING YOUR REQUEST WITH CHOCOLATE – IT WILL STING A LOT LESS