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Leaving room for our neighbor’s trangressions

Brooklyn Paper
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The sound of the skateboards was loud on the street, and it was after just after 11 p.m., on a Saturday night. I was walking my dog.

A neighbor, also walking her dog, grumbled and shook her head. “These skateboard­ers…”

I laughed awkwardly.

“Oops. Those are my boys, and their friends.”

“Well…”

Clearly this was not what she had expected. She expected a fellow grumbler, aggravated at the annoyance of disrespectful teens.

I didn’t get angry. Nor did I wholly defend my children. What I focused on, without hesitation, was the importance of making peace with the realities of living in a city; with coexisting alongside even the most annoying of your neighbors’ habits.

It is a constant refrain from me, that idea of how we must take a long deep breath and put up with the sirens and the babies crying and the perpetually defiant independence of these damn teens.

Believe me. My patience is tested on this as, most likely, is the patience of my neighbors. But I imagine that at one point or another, each and every one of those neighbors, just like my teens, just like me, might themselves need a bit of understanding.

Maybe their cat sneaks up the stairs and into my apartment. Maybe their construction job sends fumes through the floorboards. Maybe they have a baby who cries at all hours. And if I am doing my job, if I am working in whatever way I can to calm and collect myself about the trials and tribulations of city living, I tend to be able to get there fairly easily, to that place of understanding.

We are living in close proximity. My kids were actually headed off the street, toward the park, where she had suggested they go, but they needed to get there. And the poor infants who she was worried for, who were woken from their slumber…

“Well,” I told her, “I raised my kids to deal with the noise when they were babies, and they’ll sleep through anything now. So…”

Unfortunately, silence is something Brooklyn babies can hardly come to expect.

I apologize to my neighbors fairly routinely. For the parties. And the drums. And whatever else they have heard or had to deal with.

As I explained to my fellow late-night dog walker, my boys skating by loudly with a wave, “it’s all about how we communicate with one another. And understanding that we have to put up with some stuff in the city. No one’s ever going to be perfect.”

I explained that I was happy about these boys, out having fun together versus staying at home, quietly, with headphones, in front of video games. She seemed, maybe, to understand.

But I don’t know how she felt as she walked away. Maybe she was still super aggravated, and I’d given her even more fodder for her theory that all of these insensitive teens clearly get their insensitive behavior from their insensitive parents, which is indeed one way of seeing it.

Or, maybe, just maybe, she heard me as I kindly objected to vilifying these kids (and, by extension, their permissive parents) and she went home and imagined a neighborhood where we all give each other a little leeway, maybe even more than a little sometimes, so as to get more leeway in return.

Radiate positivity always. It will return to you.

That is the fortune I chose out of the box at Naidre’s cafe before I wrote this. Hard as that can be, and false as it can feel sometimes, I choose to believe that it’s true.

And I hope my neighbors do, too. No matter what, we don’t completely control the actions of those around us. And so we have to breathe, and move through some things, and assume best intentions. Otherwise we could be angry all the time at someone for something. That would be easy enough.

Updated 11:34 am, April 8, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Ezekiel Chickenlopper from Weeksvile says:
The writer obviously is trying to blame her lack of parental control on ‘city living’. Sorry but your neighbor was being polite to you, most likely there is a whole lot more going on. Learn to pick up hints. Liberal parents just seem to think they are far superior to the backwards ‘townies’ or ‘those living in the flyover states’. There’s no talking to these people when they get all their information from the NYT, NPR and Don Lemon. Poor kids. Next article should be about people who can’t control their dog’s barking, another level of inconsideration that the owner’s justify by saying ‘move to the country’
April 6, 8:03 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
The latest thing with these dipster parents is hauling the scooters to the kids school when they pick them up. They then let the kids ride them home on busy sidewalks. I guess they figure they don't have to take the kids to a park later, since they already got their exercise. Everyone else being able to walk on the sidewalk in peace without having to look out for the riders? Too bad.
April 6, 9:41 am
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
I'm barren and can't have children.
April 6, 9:48 am
Joe from Greenpoint says:
In my experience if you file complaints with the EPA about the barking dog, they will eventually do something. Also, of course, there is the special treat option. It may work or obnoxious city parents as well.
April 6, 11:33 am
Joe from Greenpoint says:
Also, skateboarding on the sidewalk is illegal. Stop encouraging your entitled children to break the law.
April 6, 11:35 am
Michelle from Park Slope says:
Why is she still writing? Why does the Brooklyn Paper let her write this nonsense. It’s becoming too much. It’s like she goes to bed thinking « what could I write tomorrow to annoy people? » As you read most of what she’s written here, you just see a person that’s very annoyed with her miserable life, and can’t stop telling everyone about it even though nobody cares. You also see that she lacks any good judgement or moral compass, yet expect everyone to « understand ».
April 6, 2:45 pm
Said from Red Hook says:
Basic, annoying, and entitled. She needs to stop, we don't need to know how much a poor parent and annoying neighbor she is. I feel sorry for her neighbors.
April 6, 3:13 pm
Rupaul says:
Thanks hetero - privilege, but we trans don’t need your approval! My identity is not up for my neighbors to judge! I am more of a woman than you’ll ever be, and more of a man than you’ll ever know! Even the word trans-gressions is a micro aggressive.
April 6, 8:05 pm
Svitlana Poopavich from Brighton Beach says:
Back in Russia, tolerance start with book. Soup of chicken for soul. This woman need soup of chicken for soul. Learn not be such boring. Soup of chicken.
April 7, 9:35 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Woah lady - chill out. You are making a mountain out of a mini-molehill. You didn't yell at someone for doing something they are very allowed to do? My god! You must be a saint! I'm so glad to read that you can accept that not everyone asks you for permission before living their lives.
April 8, 6:27 am
Andy from Park Slope says:
The author has a history of being a problematic, casually unpleasant neighbor. People on the slope know. And it’s not just about the kids.
April 8, 8:39 am

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