When A Neighbor Threatens Your Child

I had to phone the police last night and have an officer come to my house.  My kids were outside, talking to a friend of theirs who lives just around the corner, and you can see his back yard from our street.  They stood on the sidewalk across the street talking to their friend, until the neighbor (I use this term lightly) who lives across the street came outside and (per their reporting, I didn’t hear it personally) yelled the following at my kids:

‘You kids get the fuck out of here or I’ll cut your fucking ears off.’

Now, one of my kids can make up some pretty fanciful stories.  He was the first to ‘report’ this.  I was concerned but I’ve learned to take what he says with a grain of salt.  Then my other child came in and I asked him what happened, without the other child present, and got the same story….this concerned me more.  Then I went outside and two friends of my kids also related (without the f-bombs) what had been said.  That was good enough for me. I called the police and reported it, and they came by to make an inquiry.

The end result of this incident at least is that the complaint is on record. I could file charges, formally, and there would be a court date. But as I told the officer who came to the house – yes, one of the boys was throwing rocks across the street last summer and managed to hit his truck, though there was no real damage (I told him this before he spoke with the neighbor as well, and the neighbor apparently brought this up, but denied his threat to my kids). When this happened (eight months ago) he came out of his house and screamed at my kids, and then yelled at me as well, telling me to ‘get control of my kids’ and it being a ‘nice way to come into the neighborhood’. I told him then I didn’t appreciate being spoken to that way, and then even had my son apologize, and thought it was a ‘bygone’…I’ve have spoken to him outside when we were both clearing snow from our driveways this winter. I had thought that whatever animosity he had toward me or my kids was gone, so this time I’ll not push it further, but if it happens again….I will pursue it with charges.

I grew up in a place a little more ‘rural’ than where I live now. People brought food when they knew someone was sick or injured. People checked in and offered condolences when someone passed away.  People ran out of their houses if a child fell off their bike to see if they could help, whether it was their kid or not.  In all my childhood years, I never once recall hearing one of the other adults on the road threatening to cut a body part off a child for anything they did.  Things got damaged around the neighborhood, sure, and parents apologized for their kids, spoke to their kids about their behaviors, and grown ups discussed it, and it worked out.  People behaved like grown ups, and they certainly didn’t threaten children who were standing on a public sidewalk talking to one of their friends. Sure, you can ask them to move along, or take the conversation elsewhere, and speak to the parent if it continues, but threatening to cut off their ears? I don’t care if my children are pissing on your front steps, you don’t threaten bodily injury to a seven and eight year old, whether you mean it or not. ‘I’ll cut your fucking ears off’ is not a figure of speech. it’s a threat of harm, and in many places it’s considered battery, even if you don’t touch the child/person.

I have lived in this town now for 12 years.  In the eight years I lived in my former home, before we purchased one of our own, I got to know many of the neighbors pretty well, and they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I trust them with the safety and well-being of my kids, and I believe they trust me with the same for their kids.  We share our kids’ birthdays and milestone events with each other, we let them run amok in someone’s yard while we sit down and crack open a bottle of wine.  Even moving 3/4 of a mile away hasn’t changed this.  Through them I’ve met a lot of people. I know business owners in town, I know store clerks and barbers and waitresses and hardware store clerks. I know the chief of police and a few officers in town also, and the chief’s wife, as well as many other parents and non parents. I see groups of teens roaming the streets at night unsupervised, and am sure they pull pranks and cause mischief as teens do. Some of them flattened tires and rang doorbells on us at the old house.  I get the frustration there.  It’s annoying, stupid, pointless behavior. I have every bit of respect for someone not wanting kids on their property for fear of damage that kids, especially really hyperactive kids like mine who don’t have a ton of impulse control, and even with the ‘history’ there of them hitting his truck with a rock thrown across the street, whether there was damage or not. Had this neighbor walked out on his porch and yelled ‘get away from my house’….I wouldn’t bat an eyelash. I’d tell my kids ‘Just avoid him and his yard and his driveway and you’ll be fine.’

But to threaten to cut my kids’ ears off? I draw a line there.

Thankfully, so does the local law enforcement.  Even if it’s ‘their word against his’….even if it’s kind of ridiculous to tell my kids to ‘avoid part of the sidewalk’ when it’s a public sidewalk….even if we are a same sex couple with kids and many people don’t like/understand/have any tolerance and understand of that kind of family… was taken seriously enough to come by and get a statement, and talk to the other party involved.

Why did I avoid pressing charges now? Well, because I’m not a vindictive person.  The ‘warning’ is there for him that I do take it seriously and won’t just let it slide.  I hope he also realizes that should it ever happen again, I’ll see him in court for harassment.

I do my best to be a good neighbor, and a good person. Everyone has bad days, everyone makes bad decisions and reacts before they think. I get it.

But don’t threaten my kids again…ever.

That’s when you’ll find out how much of a asshole I really can be.


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