We have this neighbor that totally thinks that I am a terrible mother.
He is not a close neighbor, in fact the only thing that I know about him is that he gets his granddaughters off the bus and he smokes a pipe. In general, he is nice and we exchange pleasantries every afternoon while waiting at the bus stop but that is about it.
Oh, and he thinks I can’t handle my children.
The bus stop is at the every end of our road which is a private drive and not a very busy street but it butts up to a very busy local highway.
In the afternoon’s while waiting for the bus, I always have Jake, Quinn and Claire with me and the last thing that they want to do is sit in the van and wait. And let’s face it the last thing I want if to keep them cooped up in the van. Do you know how much damage three 4 year olds can do to the inside of a van in ten minutes.
Yeah, it freaks me out to think about it too.
So we get out and they explore and run around and play.
They climb on rocks. They jump over a broken fence. They pick up stones. They try to get each other to eat walnut shells. They look both ways and run across the street.
I have no problem with any of their activities. They all know not to run in the big road and if they see or hear a car, they know to run and stop onto the side of the road.
We have practiced this many times.
So while we are waiting for the bus the kids play, I tweet and watch the kids and the neighbor puffs on this pipe and paces.
I am not exactly sure what happened but one afternoon the neighbor started scolding Quinn for getting too close to the road. I immediately looked up from my phone and put it away. I thought that maybe I had missed something and decided to pay better attention to the kids.
Quinn was quietly picking up stones and Jake started to run towards the big road but I knew he was going to stop at the large rocks when the neighbor scolded Jake and told him that he was too close to the road.
“Oh, Jake wasn’t going into the road,” I began, “He was just going to the rocks. He is fine.”
The neighbor gave me a half nod and continued to pace.
I decided that maybe seeing three young kids running in three different directions was too much for this man. It is my life so I am totally used it but maybe for him it was making him nervous. So I asked the kids to come close and told them not to go past the fence anymore.
They whined but agreed and started to play once again.
I took out my phone to check the time because it felt like we had been waiting for the bus forever when I heard the neighbor again scold Jake for being too close to the road.
I was just about say something to the neighbor thanking him for watching the kids but I was all over them and he didn’t need to when Jake spoke up.
“What’s that? ” Jake asked pointing to the pipe in his mouth.
“It’s a pipe,” the neighbor said pulling it out of his mouth and bringing it close to Jake’s face. Apparently its alright for my children to get a good healthy does of second hand smoke but its not alright for them to run around and play like children.
“Well, it stinks.” Jake said and then added, “You are old and MY MOMMY SAYS I CAN RUN ON THE ROCKS!”
And with that Jake ran around the rocks closest to the road.
The neighbor glared at me but all I did was smile and say, “The bus is here.”
He may have meant well but when it comes to parenting my children and being able to keep tabs on three young children at once, I totally got this.
And the kids know it.