Thursday, March 16, 2006


class went well. I feel like I have a new crop of kids. Perhaps they feel my passion and sincerity. Perhaps I've done a better job of communicating my expectations this time around.

But better than that - and this is something you will all be very interested in knowing - my neighbor (the-cherry-tree-cutting- KC-hating-neighbor, Mr. Swell) paid us a visit at 8:45 AM today. In his slippers and all.

When I answered the door, I knew it wouldn't be good. I could tell by his demeanor that he was out for the kill. Immediately, he began to attempt to ream me - in front of my children and a neighbor girl - with, "Your daughter's friend kicked my son. He has severe bruising on his leg and may have to have surgery to remove bone spurs....blah, blah, blah...'

It reminded me of a time when at age 10 I kicked the crap out of a neighbor boy. I can't even remember why I did it, except for he wouldn't stop touching my friend. Not inappropriate touching, mind you. Just touching. The boy came over the next day and told me that his mom said a person could die from being kicked too many times. I apologized, agreed to not do it again, and then closed the door and giggled with my friend.

Back to the present, I tried to deflect immediately with, "Well, Mr. Swell, it seems as if you have a problem with KC's friend, so then you ought to take that up with her mother."

However it became abundantly clear that he was not as angry about something KC's friend did, but rather about something KC didn't do. He continued with, "The fact is that your daughter did nothing about this. She just stood there and let it happen; my son told me so. Violence is not the answer, and we ought to be teaching our children blah, blah, blah...."

At that moment, I was wishing that violence could be the answer.

Mr. Swell just kept on talking and accusing and raising his voice at me. I stepped outside and shut the door in attempt to shelter the children from being exposed to his rant.

"Mr. Swell, this is not the time and place to talk about this," I pleaded. "Our kids are getting ready to leave for school in a few minutes..."

I could see that there was just no stopping him, and I was getting more upset. I found myself yelling to drown out his incessant rant, "I am not talking to you! I cannot have this conversation! Stay here, you and you can speak with my husband about this matter."

And I went and got Poetroad. Then, while Poetroad was outside dodging verbal firebombs, I took a second to get to the bottom of the alleged assault. Apparently, Morgan, the son, was verbally abusing this girl - a tall girl for her age (she looks as if she is a big sixth grader, but she is only in the fourth grade). When he called her "fat," she kicked him. He punched her back. The poor girl was sitting in my living room crying, and I hugged her and said, "Oh, honey, you have every right to defend yourself. But next time, it would be better to just walk away and then tell your principal. In the meantime, do not talk to Morgan or to Mr. Swell. Just stay away from them."

Outside, Mr. Swell was throwing all kinds of accusations at my husband regarding my daughter and our family. No one in the neighborhood likes us, he says. All of the neighbors across and down the street think that we are snobbish. "And your wife won't speak to me anymore," he said. Then he accused Poetroad of getting defensive.

Poetroad asked Mr. Swell how he thought a person would respond to being berated by all sorts of accusations, and then told Mr. Swell, "My wife does not speak to you anymore because I told her not to."

The best part, though, was when Poetroad said, "I'm sorry if we haven't lived up to your expectations of us." To that, Mr. Swell blurted, "Don't try to use that on me. I have a doctorate in psychology!"

Wisely, Poetroad responded with, "Okay, what is the real issue here. You say that it is one thing, but what is it that you are really angry about?"

Oh, I don't know, could it be because he feels totally emasculated since he decided to be a full time stay at home dad, that he doesn't have a job teaching at a college as he bragged was the case last summer, that he has a kid with a heart problem, another kid that is not adjusting well, a wife who had a cancerous tumor removed from her face last fall, and that his unmanned car rammed into the front of a neighbor's house a few short months ago and landed well into the front room? It all kind of makes me feel sorry for the guy.

And I do feel sorry for him, but I would feel a lot more compassion if he weren’t such a jerk.

In not so many words, Mr. Swell said that he feels as if the Swell family has been made out to be the bad family of the neighborhood. He feels as if we should have a more "community approach" to raising our children.

Apparently he thinks that means that when he comes over to tell each of our families how we should correctly raise our children that we should respond by lavishing him with attention.

It sucks to be lonely. It sucks more when the isolation has been self-created.

So Poetroad has decided that he needs to go over there this weekend to let the guy talk it out. I told Poetroad that all of the money that we dished out for the master's level counseling classes he took before he decided to quit the program was well spent today. I really admire my husband - he knows how to deal with jerks.

I, on the other hand, will not be invited to the meeting. My presence seems to bring out the worst in Mr. Swell.


pjd said...

There's always one. And you know what they say... if you can't figure out which one it is, it's probably you.

What a relief to have identified The One in your neighborhood.

I feel for you, chaka khan.

bluesugarpoet said...

Won't you rock me chaka khan?

There's nothing like quoting a good 80s lyric to help tell a person, "I care." It's almost as good as going to Spatula City and buying your loved on a spatula. "What better way to say, 'I love you.""

Anyway, thanks for sending the care this way. Yes, at least we know that there is a person in this neighborhood that is more crazy than we are. What a relief!

Gracie said...