One of the things I take great pride in these days is the grooming of my property. Particularly because of all the new flowers, plants and landscaping I’ve installed over the past three years. And though I spend most of my time in the backyard by the pool, I also make a point of keeping the front yard as colorful and vibrant as I can.
The neighborhood schoolchildren, however, seem to feel my front yard is their personal property to play on, climb over and tear up. During the winter, I don’t pay much attention to them, but come the Spring, when all the new growth is just starting to happen, I keep my eyes peeled every day at 2:30 to watch for the oncoming slaughter. And sure enough, the kids climb on my rock wall (potentially dangerous), cut through my yard, pull on my trees and pick through my flowers. I got so fed up one day that I opened the second story office window and screamed at them to get off my property.
Yes, I became “THAT GUY”---the guy you remember from your childhood who used to yell at you when you stepped on his grass. The annoying older neighbor who seemed to value his precious rose bushes more than your ability to have fun picking through them. And now I completely understand where “that guy” was coming from. After all, the neighborhood kids didn’t pay for all the mulch, and sod, and flowers and plants and trees and fertilizer and irrigation and watering and general upkeep. They just look at my yard as a fun place to play.
Naturally, I was going to do everything in my power can to put a stop to that. So I began sitting outside on my front stoop every day from 2:30 to 3:00 to make sure no one laid a foot on my stone wall or tore a branch from one of my newly blossoming trees. And for a few days, everything seemed to be fine. Then I began to get so bogged down by work, I couldn’t monitor the kids on a daily basis any more. Some time went by, and then one day I happened to be glancing out my office window, when I noticed that the local children had slipped into their usual bad habits. So once again, the window flew open and my screaming voice could be heard echoing throughout the land to “please stay off the grass, and stop pulling on the flowers.”
The kids, for the most part, listened to my pathetic pleading and stuck to the sidewalk for the next few weeks. But there were still a few who would try to sneak up on the wall, or cut through the yard. So for those few occasions, I tried to ignore it. Until one day, when I saw a little boy pick up one of the rocks on our stone wall and throw it on the pavement below him. Meanwhile, his much older sister, who was standing not three feet away, didn’t even try to stop him. (And he was even throwing the stone in her direction.) And when I came running out of the house to reprimand him for it, they both looked at me as if I was crazy.
That’s when I decided to take further action. I began taking pictures of the daily offenders from my office window. I figured I could send them to the Principal of the school, believing that if anyone had influence on these kids, it would be him. And one day, thankfully, I actually got a picture of a kid tearing up an entire bush of flowers. (Well, not thankfully for me, but thankfully for the necessary “evidence” of my complaint.) I sent the group of pictures, along with a well-written diatribe to the Principle, whose only response was “I’ll talk to the children.”
The next day, sure enough, I observed the principle standing in front of my house, waiting for the children to arrive. He spoke to them for about ten minutes on respecting other people’s property and how they shouldn’t cross the lawn. I heard many of the children answer that they never crossed the yard and didn’t know why I complained so much. One girl even began snapping her fingers in a triangle motion, no doubt berating me for having a yard at all.
The talk helped for a few days, perhaps even a week or two. Then the climbing and defacing began all over again. So now I sit on my front stoop again every day with my cell phone and a magazine, daring anyone to touch anything that even looks like foliage. I can’t wait until June when school is out, so I don’t have to constantly disrupt my day in order to defend the integrity of my property. But such is my life in the suburbs.
But that’s just me. Do you have any issues with little prowlers on your property? (And I’m not talking about the squirrel or raccoon kind.)