Monday, August 31, 2009


Sigh. Sometimes I break my own rule of not saying "yes" when I want to say "no." This afternoon about 6 I was having a brief period of reclining on the couch. I may have been resting my eyes. My phone chimed with an incoming text message. It was from Frenemy Neighbor:

Would u be open 2 P coming over from 7 to 8:30 pm 2ni so Jim & I can hav an anniv dinner out? If doesn't work, NP, thxs.

I thought, no, I don't have a problem with it, if 8:30 really means 8:30. But unlike FN's daughter, my child is not homeschooled, and has to go to bed by 9 in order to get up at 6:30 to catch the bus. And the previous time that we had P here for her parents to go do something at night, they did not return on time. And last week Normal Neighbor watched P in the evening with the same result. But since we were home, and L loves to play with P, and there was no real obstacle to our having her, I said, "Sure, bring her down. Happy Anniversary!" I could not think of a possible way to tell another adult that she needed to be back by 8:30. I just did not want to go there. If it had been me, I would have killed myself getting back here when I said I would. I might have resented being reminded I had a curfew.

So P got dropped off at 7:15. She and L played happily. Everything was fine. At 8:30 I started making noises to Laura about how she needed to go ahead and be ready for bed. She naturally resisted, because her friend was here. I told her to go ahead and brush her teeth, and I let them be. At 9:00 I got another text from FN.

We r on the way back, should be 10 min or less, sorry to go over time. Thxs

I didn't respond to that one. I knew that their next move would be to either call P's cellphone when they pulled up, or to text me or call me and ask me to send P outside. I put my phone on silent. I didn't want to play fast-food drive thru person anymore and just pass their order through the window. I marched into Matt's office and told him, "I'm going to make them get out of their car. It is my silent protest. It is little, but it is mine."

So they did. At 9:15 Frenemy Neighbor came to the door. She saw Laura and Hank in the sunroom and said, "Oh, well we didn't mean to keep everybody up." I just smiled. Then I told her she looked pretty. Then they left, and the kids went straight to bed. So why am I so annoyed?

The heretofore unblogged context for this event is that the Frenemy family has had a rough time lately. I haven't been telling this story, but a month ago, late one night, Laura had another friend sleeping over. Matt was gone up to D.C. to fetch the dog from her summer camp at my brother's house. About one in the morning, I was going to bed, and Frenemy called me. She sounded upset. She said, "I need to take Jim to the ER, can you come up here and sit with P?" Her husband was having an irregular heartbeat and was really uncomfortable. I said that Matt was out of town and I couldn't leave, but to bring P down here. So she did. P came in and I put her to bed in my room, on a spare mattress. I felt that I needed to stay up, plus I wasn't exactly sleepy anymore. At 4:30 she texted me again and said that Jim was having atrial fibrillation, but was being medicated and would be okay. P's grandma would come fetch her in the morning, she said, so I went to bed. Frenemy's mother came at 8. I told her to call me if she needed anything.

The next day, FN called me at 9 to ask if I would go up the hill and show her mother how to light her gas stove, which made me chuckle. I went, of course. After another day, Jim got better and came home from the hospital.

Then two weeks ago, a phone call at 7 am. Jim was having a kidney stone attack, and could she bring P over? Of course. Geez, that poor guy!

This story is already too long, but all this is to say that, I feel genuinely glad when I can help someone out. And even more glad, in these cases, because I have realized that FN doesn't have many (any?) close friends. Nobody she can call upon. And they have all been shaken up by their run of bad luck. I was glad to help and would have taken P in as much as needed. It's not any trouble, and neighbors need to help each other, right?

I was glad to help in those cases, but somehow this simple request to have P over to play with Laura this evening rubbed me the wrong way. On their anniversary, for Pete's sake. Maybe it also has to do with her communication style? I don't know, I am a mystery even to myself.

Now you're up to date on what's going on with the Frenemizer.


Kelly said...

The fact that she asked you in a text message the day of the event was a little inconsiderate. I know that would have annoyed me too.

The Dental Maven said...

Seriously? They just remembered it was their anniversary? B.S.! Girl's a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

Jen said...

I'm going to have to chime in with the others... It's not like she didn't know when her anniversary was. She could've asked sooner. And not in a text.

Anonymous said...

Friends are the people you call to help you at 1 in the morning. Babysitters are the people you call if you want to go out for dinner.

And if you are going to TEXT a friend to ask AT THE LAST MINUTE if they could watch your kid while you go out to dinner, you are FORBIDDEN to mention that it is your anniversary. Because that is the most unsubtle sort of pressure, "NP" or no.

No wonder it rubbed you wrong. It was poor form from the git-go. Yes, it's a good feeling to be able to help when someone is in need. But she sounds like someone who might easily slide into abusing your kind nature and benevolent generosity, dear Matron.

Michele Renee said...

I think it is the last minute anniversary WEEKDAY phone call at 6:00 that went over the line. I hate to sound unromantic, but anniversaries do not HAVE to be celebrated on a Monday night. But if they HAVE to then they are planned in advance. And the parties involved make sure they are home and ready early so that they are doing the child drop off at 6:00 and not 7:15.
I like you even more after reading this--you are kind, perceptive and a good neighbor/friend to FN and little P.

Veronica said...

I'm with "fraught," this was really a babysitter situation, if they wanted the flexibility of being late. I like that you made her come to the door. Now that she's seen her disruption, how about this next time: "Great, we'll see you at 8:30. Perfect timing--that's exactly when Laura needs to start getting ready for her 9:00 bedtime." That way you're reminding her of your schedule, rather than overtly reminding her to be polite and considerate.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Hmm. I'd watch out for this one. She may be short on friends but she does have a mother. I've got a friend like this and nearly ended up getting sucked into her vortex of chaos. Just sayin'.

When someone is rude or discourteous and I don't say anything, I tend to get even madder. Maybe if she brings it up to thank you, you can let her know that being late doesn't work for you on a school night?

Bex said...

sometimes i think text messaging has gone too far. but i am guilty of it too.

you did the good thing. it makes it even better that you did it even though you didn't want to do it. my, what a grown up you are!

Jane said...

This would be my response to FN's text... it's not Miss Manners, but it might work out:

"Sounds great! Could we make it a little earlier? I need to start the bedtime routine around 8."

If you know she's prone to lateness, this would at least move forward the time at which she knows you'll be royally ticked by 30 minutes. And makes it clear that the time issue is important to you.

I once told a dear friend her wedding shower was half an hour before its actual start time. She arrived fashionably (but not insanely) late. :-)

Casey said...

You're mad because she took advantage of you, plain and simple. She should NEVER have given you a time frame if she didn't intend to keep it and from what you've said, she never does.

You're a nice neighbor and friend to help her out so much but I'd be pissed too.

missynall said...

You're seriously questioning yourself? Seriously? I don't have a single FRIEND in my life that sends me a TEXT for something like that. My friends CALL and give me plenty of NOTICE and RESPECT my kids' bedtime. This lady is a joy-sucker. We've all known them and if we're being good to ourselves, we put LIMITS on how much ENERGY they get to take from our lives. Do you truly accept that your child can be her child's friend even if you do NOT help her? If your child's enjoyment of the other child is contingent upon you helping the other mom then your child is really not being given the opportunity to experience a good, healthy friendship. Close proximity can make for easy playdates, but children do get to an age where they become more discerning. I'm so sorry that this lady is a taker. I encourage you to quit giving for a bit and see how that all pans out.

Keely said...

Uh, yeah. I'm with everyone else. Last minute, in a text message, is poor form. Rough time or not, there's probably a reason she doesn't have any close friends, yeah?

Becky said...

Ugh, you guys are right. We are not really friends by any definition that I understand. I think she probably thinks of me as a friend because she doesn't have many.

And I hadn't thought of it this way, but mentioning that it was their anniversary WAS a kind of pressure.

I think I'm going to be less available for a while and see how that goes. And definitely say what V and Jane suggest--remind her of my schedule.

Good times in the 'hood.

Kate said...

she can call a babysitter. she oversteps boundaries. probably doesn't have any. I would personally stay away from her.

Betsy said...

I wouldn't avoid her, because I think this is good for you, Beck! Didn't you post (sev. times) that you are learning to say "no" and set limits? What a great opportunity to practice!

Then, as more _normal_ people come into your life, saying no to them will be a cake walk.

Don't let her scare you, girl! I think Jane's advice is stellar.

Will you move in next door to me?

Life on The Rowland Ranch said...

Ok! We've never once met..but you have me rolling! I love your posts..reminds me so much of a dear friend of guys must be sisters! ;) See, I'm cracking my own self up! Can I just be one of the first to say...PLEASE, PLEASE WRITE A BOOK TOGETHER!! Really, I mean it. You guys would be an incredible team and would be on the NY Bestseller list in minutes!..and I would be totally fine with you saying something like "Thanks, Jane for the idea." in the acknowledgments. ;)