This summer our aging next door neighbors had their two grand daughters come and stay for over two months. The oldest girl was the same age as my son, so by the end of their first day, a new friendship was quickly budding. As with most people who live in populated neighborhoods, most activities that occurred in our yard, they’re privy to them. If we were barbecuing, running through the sprinkler, eating watermelon on the deck or just picking weeds, the girl next door was quickly asking if she could join us. At first her attendance was welcome. My son and she had fun and it was refreshing to see them play.
As the days passed it seemed she was over at our house more and more. Soon she was shouting from her deck, calling to ask if she could come over first thing in the morning. Often it was so early we were all still asleep. Many nights after I had put my son to bed, she would be calling him, tempting him to come to his window to talk with her. More than a few times I had to strictly enforce it was bed time and ask her to go inside.
With her visiting more and more, she began having lunches here, then staying for dinner, then both. I know…what was I doing? But I felt bad for her…young, full of energy and just wanting so much to play. Her grandparents were quite elderly and they had her one year-old-sister to also look after, so I felt it was easier to have her here. But as she became more comfortable in our house, the guest quickly became the new tenant.
Dozens of times we took her to the public pool with us, the playground, even the video store. Any time we would go for a walk, she was outside begging to come along. It was difficult to say no when both her and my son were pleading. My heart gave in and I would usually say okay.
It was trying at times as her manners were different that ours. Our “rules of the house” were foreign to her and her insatiable curiosity had her going in places off limits to my kids. For the first few weeks it seemed I was disciplining her more than my own children as she seemed to run wild with no control or common sense. If I had play dates with my son’s others friends, she would invite herself. More than a few times she just came in the house without ringing the bell. At meals times she had no problem demanding her particular preferences.
My closest girlfriend noticed her behavior and commented on her practically living at our house. I had to admit I had let it go a little too far, but my son was now calling her his best friend, including her in all our activities and forcing me to put a tent in the living room so they could have pretend sleepovers in the middle of the afternoon.
Through all of this I only ever saw her grandparents over the fence. They never came by, never called or knocked on the door even after she’d been here for more then eight hours. They never offered to have my son over, which I was fine with, but they never seemed to check up on where their granddaughter had gone. By the end of the summer she was coming to the grocery store with us, her wet bathing suit was being washed at our house and her name had even been written on one of our plastic dinner mats. She was wearing an extra pair of my son’s shoes because the strap on her sandals had broke, and one night after a full day in the pool I even sent her home wearing a pair of his sweats and an old t-shirt.
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