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Friday, April 27, 2012

"The Situation"

No, I’m not talking about “Jersey Shore” here.  And some of you probably don’t even know what that is.  I barely do.  Evidently it is a controversial TV program about a group of twenty-somethings gone wild in New Jersey.  The people playing the parts actually have real names like “Snooki” and “The Situation.”  Thus this title, and story here.

We have a “situation” next door that I have no idea how to handle.  Our neighbor’s son has entered puberty and there has been a spiraling increase in wildness.  Some say he’s just being a teen - but it is creating a “situation.”  Did I already say that?  You see I’m beginning to get absorbed by “the situation.”  My life is being disrupted on a regular basis by “the situation”, which is a 13 year old and a single parent who evidently doesn’t think there *is* a “situation.”

About a year ago the then tween decided he wanted to be Daniel Boone and his mother (ex-wife of single parent next door) decided to buy him a bow and arrow.  He, unbeknownst to us, but with his father’s knowledge, had target practice in his back yard – aimed at our fence – which means he was aiming into our backyard.  Well, of course, Daniel Boone he is not, so one errant arrow flew over the fence, *across* our yard, and into the neighbor’s fence on the other side - who has two toddlers.  Some of you may remember that post – here.  When I discovered the arrow I was pretty sure where it had come from, but waited to see if the owner would come a knocking to claim it…  Nope.  Several days later an opportunity presented itself for a conversation with his dad.  I waited for him to broach the subject – nada. So I asked him if he would happen to know anything about the arrow in the fence. “Why yes I would” he said – and proceeded to give me the story of the bow and arrow.  But – no apology – like gee, I’m sorry, my son could have killed you…    Says a lot about a man’s character, don’t you think…

Wellllll – then tween turned into teen last Summer and was given a Pellet Rifle – evidently for “target practice” - but the targets are rabbits and squirrels.  Daddy evidently said it was okay to shoot rabbits and squirrels – for fun. We found three dead in our yard last year – one on the patio and one rotting with maggots under a bush; which of course means he was shooting in our direction.  Hubby had a talk with Daddy and Daddy evidently thinks killing innocent animals for fun is “sport” – does not see them as living beings to be respected.  I actually saw him shoot a rabbit from out his back door.  I think he heard me gasp and pulled the rifle back in.  I have checked with the police and *if* the rifle is a certain caliber it is considered a “firearm” which is illegal to have in the city where we live.  I have no idea what caliber it is.  And even if I knew, and reported it, they would know it was me who reported them – and then what – fear or retribution.  I told you I was getting absorbed by the story :)  I’m a character playing out a role in this ridiculous, attention consuming, anxiety provoking story that I had no intention of getting into – at least consciously.

Interestingly, a paper target that they sometimes actually use for practice, flew into our back yard with the wind and landed on the patio a few weeks ago.  Divine intervention or what?!  I am thinking of taking it to the police station to see if they can determine by the size of the hole that if left in the paper what caliber it is.  But still – there’s that sticky “situation” of actually filing a complaint and having the sheriff show up at their house and take the gun away.  The kid is a very angry teen and already dislikes me, because I watch him, from the window when I’m working at my desk.  Now he watches to see if I’m sitting there watching him.  I figure it’s a good deterrent if he thinks I might be watching.  But, I also think it has only created animosity and sneakiness.  In other words, I think I’ve already blown it.  I was never a parent, so I have no clue about “handling” teens – especially angry ones.

Last Fall we discovered he liked setting fires with an acetylene torch – evidently with his father’s knowledge – or so I was told, rather surly.  I watched one day as he and a friend set fire to dead pine needles *under* a pine tree, and various other dead objects of nature around his yard.  They enjoyed it way too much – laughing and dancing into a frenzy.  Pyromaniac came to mind.  Finally I opened the window and said something when they were lighting dead tall grass on fire at the corner of their garage, and not 5 feet from a huge 50 foot spruce tree that overhangs the corner of our property!  I was told, as if I was beneath him, that his father was aware that they were doing it, and they were “handling it.”  Being reactive, head sticking out second floor window, I replied that if I had to call the fire department there would be a big problem.   I got the basic ignore from an angry teen with a weapon of mass destruction who is learning to kill for fun.  And we wonder why there is no peace on the planet.   

I hope this is not too much story, or that you are expecting some wondrous “spiritual” insight to come at the end :)  Walking a “spiritual path” does not make us immune to “the human story.”  It’s all story – even “the spiritual path.”  If anything this story points out how, in general, we don’t realize the impact our actions have on each other – the ripple effect.

Oh and one more part of the story. :)  Yesterday we were eating dinner and suddenly we saw the kid jumping back and forth from the top of his tool shed onto the top of our tool shed – over the 6 foot fence, and probably 6 feet of space between the two, while dear daddy is lying in the hammock hidden behind the fence.  They were evidently playing Pirates of the Caribbean, as he was brandishing a sword – the father that is!  Hopefully a play one, but who knows.  I opened the window to say something – but he heard the noise of the window and jumped off the roof to hide – behind the fence.  But I went to my tower window, of course, and saw him hiding there, and then he saw me watching him.   Awkward…

I am at a loss about “the situation.”  I have no rapport with this kid.   He hasn’t been able to make eye contact with me since they moved in 6-7 years ago.  And I have probably made an enemy in the last year playing the grumpy old lady next door, watching from her tower.  Not a good thing with a kid with a gun and a torch.  Even so, I feel the need to be watchful.  It is apparent to me that “the situation” – as it is – requires vigilance and appropriate action. And speaking to the father?  Well – we tried that with the arrow and squirrel incident. Like father like son, as they say… 

S0 - I am waiting for the “right way” to reveal itself – for the “right” opportunity and timing…  I know he will continue to challenge us, to test the boundaries to see how far he can go and how much he can get away with.  And it’s only just beginning!

If anyone has any suggestions on how to handle “the situation”, or can offer a little perspective here, I’m open to hearing it! :)

That is not fire coming out his
ear and butt,
although I wonder…
It’s something red on the ground :)
And he does not have tattoos.
Those spots showed up when
I digitally altered the photo…


  1. well for starters my heart goes out to you. and my concern is for your emotional well being, if that makes any sense. having come to my Buddhist practice through an encounter with a neighbour I am aware of how this type of situation and relationship can "poison" the whole environment.

    I can't offer any advice only observations from my experience with a difficult neighbour. Any action taken in anger (no matter how slight) will get us in trouble. (I learned this the hard way.) Our perspective becomes obscured by annoyance even though we may have "grounds" for our position (ie danger, etc). Their behaviour has nothing to do with us but we can get caught in the middle by engaging and feeling "right". As you have found out, reason probably doesn't work.

    I have been in situations where the answer comes from deep inside, from the helplessness we feel, if that makes any sense (asking for help from somewhere).

    You are in a tricky situation and I think you perceive the difficulty of it. There is a teaching here, just as you mention the target floating over onto your patio. Use this is some way that uplifts you. I keep thinking the best way would be to make friends somehow. I also know that may not be possible.

    I look forward to hearing how this goes for you. We can all learn so much from it!

    1. Thank you Dear ZDS for this wonderful offering! Yes, emotional well-being is an issue here too. This situation creates such tension while the kid is around, wondering what he's going to do next - which means I'm hooked into the situation. And I agree about not reacting out of anger, and asking for inner help. And wasn't it so cool that that target just showed up! goosebumps. :) Am trusting that the "right action" will reveal itself, as it has in the past with "chance" opportunities to talk to the father. I like the idea of "making friends" - not with the kid, as I don't see that happening, but with "the situation." It rings true to me and already has given me the sense that I could look at this a little differently if I make friends with it. It's true that I need to come from a deeper place within to handle this one! Thank you, thank you! :)

  2. Sorry to hear about your problem. Unfortunately, these parents will be the ones who will look dumbfounded and wonder what happened when their child is arrested.

    Hope it works out.

    Darryl and Ruth :)

    1. Thank you Daryl and Ruth. Yes I know. I grew up next to a kid who did very similar things - killing birds for fun and such, and he became a delinquent, on drugs and landed in jail - or so I heard. We moved away many years ago. But it sure seems like he is a "troubled" kid that needs help.

  3. Wow. This is difficult on so many levels. . . and I agree with ZDS----we can learn from this, so thank you for the details. No easy "answers."

    1. Thanks Chris - Yes it is difficult to know what action to take so as not to inflame the situation and be fearful of retaliation. As I have watched this kid I have seen how angry he is. It could really turn ugly. So we're laying low and waiting for an opportune moment. Waiting for the Universe to act so-to-speak.

    2. Sounds like a good plan. It also occurred to me that the son and father are waiting, too. . . and thus your own waiting may be just what's needed on all sides.

    3. Yes, there is a lot going on underneath the surface, on both sides, and sometimes the best action is to wait and see what unfolds. There was an interesting twist today that unfolded, which I will write about, probably beginning of next week. Thanks for the additional comment :)

  4. Oh boy— sounds like a very difficult situation. Reading your post, my heart contracted with such fear and anger! Having interacted with you for some time now via your blog, I feel confident you will handle this situation with compassionate intention.

    I think there are situations where a loving heart must express a clear, unequivocal response— no squishy let-me-be-your-friend-and-teacher stuff. Your neighbor's actions sound dangerous and harmful. I think the situation demands "Manjusri's sword"— a clear, decisive, determined response. The energy of fear and anger can be transformed into compassionate action by clear intention. It's easy to write these words, but so much more difficult to live them. For me acting with decisive, clear-sighted wisdom does not come easy.

    I would document as much as possible and move forward with resolve to bring in the appropriate legal authorities for both the child and parents. I don't know what that would be— court ordered counseling? Removal of the gun?

    I wish I could fill you up with strength and courage, and that everyone could come out of this safe and wiser. I don't have answers but I do have faith in your ability to do the best thing, to find the best way, because I've come to know your heart.

    1. Thank you Kris for your helpful and heartfelt perspective! I agree, there needs to be a clear and unequivocal response, which means I need to work on being clear myself. And, also need to keep the peace, by not over-reacting, and not cause reason for retaliation. I have no intention of becoming the kids friend. That's not my way - and we're beyond that now anyway. Have done a pretty good job of keeping the lines of communication open with the father (regarding other issues we have had). So am treading carefully and collecting evidence :) Sometimes if you give people enough rope they hang themselves. Or so the saying goes :)

      I love the metaphor of Manjusri's Sword - how appropriate!

      I think too I have already been dismissed as a "crazy lady" :) So anything I say at this point will be dismissed by them - not taken seriously. So the collecting of evidence and getting clear myself are my best actions at the moment.

      Thank you for your loving words of encouragement. That in itself gives me courage and the perspective to handle this from the Heart! Thank you!

  5. I know if it was me I would be in contact with some animal activist group that would speak to the father about not harming the squirrels and rabbits. I would think there must be some law that protects these creatures. It's all well and good to "let everything be as it is" but I also know that love takes action. Maybe the lesson is for you to find your voice and confront and educate these neighbors. Good luck... what area do you live in... I could maybe find the proper authority to contact! Certainly some authorities need to be informed of this situation!

    1. Julie - Thank you for your concern. I have contacted the proper "authorities" to get information - to be informed for myself - to see what action could be taken. There is no law against shooting rabbits and squirrels. There is a law against "firearms" if the pellet rifle is of a certain caliber, which I hope to determine. In this case having the "authorities" (activists or the police) talk to the father about not shooting animals would not help the situation, and could alienate and make matters worse. The best action as I see it is to keep a line of communication open with the father, which we have re-established, but not to confront in an over-reactive, activist way. If it is not in his consciousness to respect these animals sending "the authorities" to the door is not going to change his mind. :) Love *is* acting - in the way it needs to :) And I trust that what is needed will be said and done in an appropriate way at the right time for the benefit of all concerned.


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