Thursday, 5pm. There's a knock at the door; Hubs answers it and standing on the other side of the screen door is D, the little boy who lives in the other half of the duplex we inhabit.
Hubs: Hey, D! What's up, Buddy?
D: Mister F, I'm real sorry but my brother threw his ball in your yard. Can I please have it back?
Hubs: Of course you can. The dogs are inside, so just go on in and grab it. And D? Thank you for asking.
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Our house sits almost at the end of a cul-de-sac. There's about 15' of grass between the duplex we share with the neighbors and the house preceeding ours - where the family that likes to party a lot lives. I don't know how many children live there exactly, but today there are 7 of them outside. To the front are my flower beds, our driveway and a patch of grass that we call out 'front yard'. It's not fenced in, but it's our responsibility to maintain. I worked hard on my flower beds this summer; I have roses, azeleas, rhododendrons and a lilac bush, pansies, alyssum, violas and snapdragons. The centerpiece is a Queen Elizabeth rose I planted in memory of my dad, a lush, spicy smelling rose with red petals and dark green leathery foliage. To the back of our houses are baseball diamonds and soccer pitches, big wide open spaces of grass for kids to run and play on.
But they don't play there. At least, the ones that live next door to me don't. They choose instead to play on the strip of grass that separates the houses and they choose to play in my front yard. They're playing soccer there this afternoon, and I tried not to mind the ball hitting the side of the house; I tried not to mind them traipsing all over my lawn. I tried to ignore the ball landing in my flower beds three, four and five times, and I tried even harder to not mind them walking over my bedding plants to fetch it - without even asking or letting me know that's what they were going to do.
When they hit my dad's rose, though...that's when I couldn't ignore it any more. I opened the screen door and told them they needed to take their game elsewhere now. They all stood still, all seven of them, stared at me with open mouths. They didn't say anything - not a single word. I know better than to expect an apology, so I closed the door and came back inside.
I give it half an hour before they're back out there with their ball in my flower beds again. I also expect there to be some retribution from their parents; there will likely be snide comments made in my direction or loud music played until the wee hours of tomorrow morning.
It's quite a contrast.