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In which I don’t know what to do about my neighbours

I haven’t felt much like blogging or commenting lately. A bad case of Ecclesiastes – vanity vanity, it’s all vanity!

But evidently I’m over that. For now.


I am perplexed and praying tonight. We have new neighbours underneath us. Our walls are not thin. Sure, I can hear the people upstairs vacuuming. Sure, I can hear the guy next door watch Star Wars on his surround sound. But it’s really not too too bad.

And yet almost every night, I hear a small boy yelling and screaming and his mother yelling and screaming right back.

I’ve met our neighbours. It’s a single mother in her thirties and her son.   Anne occasionally peers through the slats of our balcony down at him on the grass. He’s about four or five. Seems a typical kid – a little chatty, a little mouthy. Nothing much. Brian knocked on their door once when he was locked out of the building and they nicely let him in. They aren’t very friendly though. We haven’t had much luck chatting them up. Which is odd. Since I gave birth to Joseph downstairs, almost everyone in the building knows who we are and so they always want to chat and see the baby. We know quite a few in our building and have even made a few friends (which is odd for condo buildings, I assure you – we might as well be a lair of vampires for all the socialising that typically goes on in apartments in Canada).

Not every night, but often enough that it’s noticeable.  Around eight or nine o’clock, the screaming starts. They scream at each other. They yell. Someone slams doors. Someone seems to be kicking a wall or two. Usually it’s over in about ten minutes. Some nights, it can go on for a while.

One night, I was asleep and I was woken up by the sounds of this: I felt sick to my stomach as I listened to the screaming between a mother and her child go on for almost 20 minutes more. I was alone as Brian was out working.

I didn’t know what to do.

I still don’t.

For all I know, he could be resisting bedtime by throwing fits every night. Or maybe he suffers from some sort of behavioural issue that results in this.

But what if it’s something more? What if there is a child being hurt downstairs?

My heart is in my throat about it. I feel sick to my stomach. I feel helpless.

What do I do? Brian swears that the next time he hears them, he’s going downstairs to knock on the door. And say what? We don’t know. Maybe just let them know we hear them? Maybe ask if everything is okay? Maybe call the child protection agency? Invite them to supper?

I am praying for wisdom tonight.

community, missional living
  • Sarah

    I think that Brian going down and offering help is a wise and caring thing to do. Is there a way to form a relationship with her so that protective services don’t have to be involved? Maybe invite her for dinner or dessert? That might open a door.
    2/8/2009 8:30 PM Laoshi (message) block delete reply

    That’s tough. I would take them cookies, invite them for supper, so if that seem too much, take them supper the first time, then invite them later … ease them into it. I do think that next time it happens it might be a good idea to go down and just ask if everything is okay … praying for you to know what to do.
    2/8/2009 9:08 PM Tasia007 (message) block delete reply

    Yes, I’m also praying for God to show you the right thing to do. And for your neighbor to be receptive of your friendship. Q.’
    2/8/2009 9:17 PM QMTJ (message) block delete reply

    i have no answers, but we had a very similar situation when we first moved to WA. the apt building next to us had a family with 4 or so kids – the dad was constantly cussing his wife/kids out. it was sickening. and i called the cops once b/c it sounded like their baby was being shaken. heart wrenching to think of the emotional damage he was doing — jimmy was about to bust down their door… and then do what? i’m sorry, friend. it is a VERY hard situation to find yourself in.
    2/9/2009 3:28 AM bleejones (message) block delete reply

    The cookie idea was good. I think Brian going down next time to see if everything was okay is appropriate. I think calling the authorities should be the last resort. Here in the good ol USA child protective services are not much help. I see them splitting up good families just to cover their butts. Sure the families most likely get put back together, but after damage has been done. I know they do help in the extreme cases, but that’s not really the norm. Anyway, that’s just my 2 cents. I’ll be praying for wisdom and for that little boy.

    Just had a thought. What about asking her to go on a walk or get coffee? Brian can watch ALL the kids! Maybe she’s afraid of being judged, and does not know how to reach out.
    2/9/2009 6:49 AM scgonzales (message) block delete reply

    I think Brian going there is a good step. Continue to be in prayer for her and her son. Best case scenario is that she is a sad woman who feels in over her head. She probably learned screaming as a coping tactic when she was growing up. She probalby doesn’t know any better.

    I would be alert for any sign of physical abuse on the boy, however.

    very tough situation.
    2/9/2009 7:23 AM Venicestar (message) block delete reply

    Prayed for this family this morning.
    2/10/2009 6:28 AM scgonzales (message) block delete reply