So there’s this neighbor…
We went over our neighbors’ house for dinner last Sunday night. A married couple in their 50s. We’ll call them “Jim and Sarah”.
Jim and Sarah moved in to house next door 4 years ago. No interaction then. They were both teachers at a boarding school 3 states away and were only coming up on weekends.
Then my little Baby started getting a little bit older, 2 ½, and my hubby would take her outside to play and they met Sarah and Jim, briefly. I still hadn’t made much effort. Maybe I finally brought them some zucchini bread to introduce myself and welcome them when they started spending more weekends at their house and when my Beach Rose was around 3, in 2014.
Fall of 2014: Thought it was odd that Sarah asked for my husband’s cell phone to “have on hand”, when she saw him out in the yard one day. Would have thought that a woman would have the courtesy to ask for the wife’s phone number, not the husband’s. She called him to see if we wanted to come over for neighborhood dinner with our other neighbors. We went, I gave her my number and told her to call me in the future, saying that then I could contribute to dinner and would know times, dates etc for us to get together. Also, my husband and I were both immediately turned off by them being soooo close to our neighbors kids, a boy- 9 years and a girl-8 years. We walked into the dinner party and they had their arms draped over the kids shoulders. They’d apparently gotten pretty close to the kids and their parents over the year. They’d gone to see their plays at school and at the park, had multiple gatherings, etc.
My husband, in passing, had mentioned to Sarah that they could swing by on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve for a drink, since Sarah had said they had no plans. Thought it was really odd that they did and that they stayed the entire evening, when it was obviously just immediate family there: my husband, my Baby & I, my husband’s Dad, uncle and Aunt.
Not much interaction over the winter and then we had a large 40th Bday party for my husband and invited all the neighbors so that nobody would be upset about the noise and parking on the street. Jim and Sarah came and spent the majority of the party talking to my parents, my hubby’s parents and our neighbors whose kids they were friendly with.
Sometime around now, Sarah started showing up in our yard a lot when my hubby and my Baby were outside. She kept asking my Baby for hugs. My little Beach Rose didn’t want to give her one. Sarah laughed and said, “That’s because she doesn’t know me and trust me yet. But she will!”
Then “Sarah” started really pushing to have us come over to their Lake house. She kept asking if we could come, and when we’d decline, she’d immediately offer up another date. My husband was uncomfortable with “crossing that line” with the neighbors; the whole ‘fences make better neighbors’ mentality. She kept also offering that just my Baby & I go up if my husband had to work.
- September of 2015 – At the Lake (My Baby’s almost 4): My Beach Rose said she had to go to the bathroom, “potty”, which was upstairs & we were all downstairs and “Jim” said “Oh, well I was just going upstairs to change so I can take you.” And I said no that I would take her and then Sarah scoffed at me and said, “What do you think Jim’s going to go the bathroom with her?!”
- Invited over for a night of cocktails at their house Fall 2015: Adults sitting around a fire, and my Baby is running around after the cat. “Jim” says to my Baby, “ Could you please do me a favor? Can you please come and sit on my lap?” Immediate radar and then I put it out of my head because so often Sarah had said that they’d “adopted our family as their own and my Baby as their Granddaughter, and that Jim especially had a special place in his heart for little girls.”
- Jim goes back to work 3 states away for the school year. Sarah officially retires and is staying full-time at her house by herself.
- Invite Sarah & Jim to my Baby’s 4th Birthday party along with all neighbors. Only Sarah comes and tells my parents that she and Jim have adopted my Baby as their granddaughter.
- Sarah offers to babysit for my Baby for FREE anytime. She and Jim would be happy to, so that we could go out for dinner sometime, or if I need to run errands, etc. My husband tells me that she offered this to him and he tells me that its up to me to work out with her if I want to.
- Sarah offers to teach my Baby how to read, for FREE. Once a week, at her house. She does this for a living, teaching young children who are having difficulty, how to read. I find this offer very generous and take her up on it. We go to her house on Fridays for about 1 hour and I sit in the other room while Sarah teaches my Baby. She offers many times to have me drop off my Beach Rose by herself, so that I can run errands or go running. I never feel comfortable.
- I start inviting Sarah over for dinner on Monday nights, over the winter months- 2016, with our family and my Father-in-Law because she’s lonely. She starts pushing her boundaries. She texts me all the time. Stops by with any excuse. Brings my Beach Rose books, toys, etc. Brings me presents, old tables of hers, things she’s getting rid of. I start pulling back with my invitations to have her for dinner and start making up excuses not to go to reading. My Baby no longer wants to go either. She says the only thing she likes is the cats and the snacks.
- I bump into my neighbor with the kids who seemed so close to Sarah & Jim and she said that she had to basically tell Sarah to back off and she felt bad that she was lonely but that Sarah was constantly coming over uninvited and that their schedule was too busy.
- Sarah locks herself out of her home. She asks for a ride from me. Then later that day she brings me a copy of her house key to hold onto in case she ever locks herself out again. She locks herself out 2 more times in the next month.
- May 2016: My husband & I go out to dinner & get an 18 year old babysitter to watch our Beach Rose. We’re having dinner when I get a text from the sitter saying that my neighbor came over & had locked herself out and needed the key. I text back to have her tell “Sarah” that we’ll be home in 20 minutes and will get the key then. When we get home the sitter is visibly uncomfortable. She said that Sarah barged into the kitchen and started pulling open drawers and going through them, saying “It’s ok, they have my key” and muttering about where it could be as she is ransacking the kitchen. She finally found it and left. I go to her house the next morning for what I had decided is the last reading session and tell her that she made our babysitter uncomfortable & therefore made us uncomfortable. She apologizes and says that everyone has always told her that she has boundary issues, even her own daughter-in-law.
- A week later, Sarah tells us that Jim has officially retired and that he’s moving home. She says we’ll have to get together & also try to work out a time for the cabin.
August 21, 2016 – First contact with Jim & Sarah since May. Invited over to dinner. Sent my husband & my Baby over early because I was finishing the dessert I was bringing. I was about 10 minutes late.
- Nervous about being late to their house for dinner with just my husband bringing my Baby over, because already had a skeezy feeling about Jim.
- My Baby gets too close to their dog’s face and gets bitten in the face. No puncture, just swelling.
- Dinner: Jim put my Baby’s high chair right next to his chair and it ended up between his chair and Sarah’s.
- Jim helped my Baby into the high chair.
- Jim brushed my Baby’s hair away from her cheek and kind of over her shoulder.
- Jim patted her head, starting at the crown of it and petting it all the way down her head to her shoulders. He did this two times during dinner.
- Jim paid attention to my Beach Rose mostly during dinner, and every time he did it was as if he couldn’t keep his hands to himself.
- Jim kept looking over at me, never in the eyes, but with his eyes downcast to see my reaction.
- I was screaming on the inside that none of this was normal and that I wanted my Baby by my side.
- My Beach Rose looked uncomfortable and unsure when Jim touched her, then she’d look at me and then she kind of did a little smile and let it go.
- Jim took his index finger and rubbed it on my Baby’s left upper thigh while he was talking to her.
- Jim kept trying to get her attention after dinner to engage her in conversation since she’d run off to play.
- I caught Jim looking at her when she came outside after having used the bathroom and her shorts were rolled down at the waist a bit and you could see the top of her underwear.
- Long periods of looking and staring at my Baby.
- Asking my Beach Rose about school and whether she’d be taking the bus or Mama would drive.
- My Baby bent down to play with the kitty and you could see the top of her little bum crack and I turned to see Jim also looking.
- Jim talking to my husband and I but eyes and attention on my Baby the whole night.
…to be continued…