Overdue message to my neighbors
Thank you and I’m sorry. I should have said this earlier — and repeated it many times over the years. To the neighbors on the left and right, kitty corner, in front and behind, and perhaps a few houses beyond that: You’ve all been infinitely patient with my brood.
This morning while filling my coffee cup, I glanced out the window, which overlooks one neighbor’s yard, and noticed two errant tennis balls lingering in their grass. This elicited one of my deep, instinctive mom sighs. As far as I know my neighbors do not play tennis.
My boys do.
Today it was tennis balls, but on any given day any number of items could end up on the wrong side of the fence. Basketballs, soccer balls, golf balls and baseballs all have a tendency to roll outside the lines of our property — and are kindly tossed back or fetched by us in what is not always the most timely of manners.
Thankfully, the balls have always landed in the grass and not gone through a window (so far). I consider myself lucky on that account. Not breaking a window is definitely worth a dose or two of parental gratitude.
As are empty and abandoned juice pouches and candy wrappers in the hedges (she said with her best jest). I guess I can rest assured my kids are staying hydrated. On the other hand, thank you, neighbors, for putting up with empty juice pouches and candy wrappers that you did not drink or eat.
I also apologize for my family’s habit of ignoring borders during raucous games of hide-n-seek and ghost in the graveyard. Oh, sure, my kids could play within the confines of our yard, but spreading the game throughout the neighborhood heightens the experience — for the kids, but probably not the neighbors.
I’m sorry if ever a lily or hosta or tomato plant has been trampled upon during a feisty round of kick the can, because I’m sure my offspring are as oblivious to the garden in your yard as they are to the one in mine.
One day I will have pristine flower beds, but right now I am thankful during the times they unplug and play outside, the old-fashioned way. I find joy in their squawks and squeals, but I realize not everyone might react this way. Thank you for tolerating the squawks and squeals.
I also assume my neighbors consider it a bonus — said with as much sarcasm as I can muster — when after a night of boisterous play, various items of apparel such as flip flops, jackets and the occasional T-shirt are scattered and discarded in yards other than our own as a heated game required the speed that can only be attained with bare feet or a bare chest.
I send my deep regrets for that time (make that multiple times) some young member of my family picked apples from your tree without asking permission to do so. I apologize and send my thanks for the apples. They made a great pie, which I did not regret.
While we’re on the subject of fruit, you know how the old saying goes: You can pick your neighbors’ apples, but you can’t pick your neighbors. In that regard, they are like family. You may not pick them, or they you, but you are stuck with each other for the long haul — or at least until one of you moves. So far most of my neighbors haven’t moved. I guess I’ll take that as a good sign.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.