We got new neighbors. This isn't shocking, as the duplex next to us has pretty high turnover. And we've had some doozies. The drug dealers, the evil kids, the perpetual garage sale people. This time it's a family. They have three young children.
At first I thought, hey, some little friends for Norah. Hooray! Ryan thought somewhat differently.
"Don't even wave to them."
Ryan's philosophy, while antisocial, did make some sense. What if we strike up a friendship and they turn out to be losers or assholes or something. I agreed.
A few weeks rolled by. Then one day, Norah was out playing with her water table. The little neighbor girl sat on her bike staring. Then she started honking the little horn on her bike. Norah noticed and looked at me.
"She plays with me."
I thought for a few minutes. What could it hurt?
"You can ask her to play with you," I said.
Norah ran over into the neighbor's yard and shouted, "Come play with me!" I walked over and told the girl she had to ask her mom. Eventually, Norah and Neighbor Girl were having a good ol' time in our yard.
I sat in a chair watching and thinking, isn't that nice. Then suddenly I heard a voice.
"Can I play, too?"
There was another little girl standing by me. She told me she lives across the alley. Now there were three. And then her brother came over. And then Ryan pulled into the driveway.
I saw his face go from expressionless to majorly irritated. He walked over and I blamed Norah. Shameful, but true.
Probably because I didn't want to be blamed for what was inevitably to happen next.
Saturday I had a couple friends, Amy and Sara, over. While we enjoyed some grown-up time, Ryan watched Norah and her BFF Samantha. Soon the girls came inside to play, and I noticed there was a third.
"Ryan! Neighbor Girl can't be inside! Her parents are going to freak!"
"She asked and they didn't care."
"They didn't care that their four-year-old was in a stranger's house without them?"
Then she came over Sunday. No Neighbor Parents in sight. I just sighed and let it go.
Then Monday. Ryan got off early, and we were sitting outside in the shade during one of my breaks (I work from home). Norah was at daycare.
"Hi!" Neighbor Girl called, running into the yard.
"Honey, Norah's not here. She goes to school all summer."
"I don't have school."
I blinked. "Yes, well... Norah does. She won't be home until 5."
She stood there, staring.
"So... off you go."
"...See you later."
"You can come over later, okay?"
She ran off.
Later that day, Ryan came into the office and announced that Other Neighbor Girl was just outside sitting in a patio chair.
"Son of a..." I muttered. I sent him off to be the bad guy.
So is this our life now? Constant neighbor kids? Heather's Free Babysitting Service? I don't like it. I don't want to be the "cool mom" or have the house where kids hang out. Or where they get hurt and I get sued. And sure, they seem nice, and it appears that they're craving some attention. Ugh. Just typing that made me feel guilty. But why is it my problem? I have no idea what to do.