Thursday, April 7, 2011

Waterloo in the backyard

Our neighborhood does not contain a whole lot of children.

We did not know that fact when we chose to purchase this home. We (like all the really old folks surrounding us) were lured in by the siren song of the HOA paying for lawn care and snow removal. It has been nice living here, in spite of the guilt I feel when I see all of our 90-year-old neighbors vacuuming their lawns for six hours a day, while my yard sits as the one blight on the street, shamefully un-vacuumed.

And mine the one back literally strong enough to do it. Go figure.

But the kids do not lack for friends. There is a neighborhood adjoining ours that is full of playmates, and at least several days per week there are strangers' offspring rooting around in my pantry for after-school snacks. It's great and I love it.

There is one boy, however, who lives down the street and - for reasons unfathomable to me - hates my children. We have invited him over countless times, and each time our invitation has been met with an excuse about the important date he has with his video games. Shrugging our shoulders, we moved on to other friends, and have not mourned the loss of his company.

The problem with this kid is that he is constantly challenging the neighborhood boys to duels of physicality. A baseball pitching contest. A basketball tournament. A foot race. These challenges are always issued with insults and spite -- and he has yet to win any of them.

He reminds me slightly of Napoleon (Bonaparte, that is, not Dynamite). He is short, angry, and determined to conquer the world and everyone in it.

The problem with the war he is waging on McKay lies with me. I have this innate psycho need to be liked. And to have my children liked. I can't fathom what we have done to offend him, and feel that he must be brought to reason. He MUST not know how awesome we are, otherwise he could not possibly dislike us. Surely, he has just not looked closely at our strengths of character, wit, and charm. I mean, we are likable people! We are funny! We are charming! We I have issues!

I am constantly interjecting into the strategy conferences between McKay and his allies that maybe all Napoleon needs is to be invited over for cookies and ice cream.

These suggestions are met with blank stares and questions regarding my sanity.

Apparently, war is not resolved over homemade chocolate chip cookies.

It is decided on the basketball court with a very short, hateful boy named Napoleon who does not like me my children.

And it is okay.

Or so they tell me, while I sit rocking in the corner mumbling, "But why? Why doesn't he like me?"

Don't worry. I'll be all right. Eventually.


Annie ~ Basic Joy said...

Here's where I thought your post was going: your kids challenge him to a Waterloo battle in the backyard. With airsoft guns and reinactors' costumes. Haha. But maybe you should?

I completely get this. (Wanting to be liked, that is, not his not liking you.) But, really, it's his loss. He's probably jealous. Shrug.

Karey said...

I've learned there's only so much you can do to try to get people to like you (and kids to like your kids). Some kids just have issues and it sounds like maybe Napoleon does.

Take heart! Maybe he'll turn out to be a really awful kid that would be a terrible influence on your sweet kids and it will turn out to be a huge blessing that your kids weren't part of his posse. Maybe your kids are being protected.

Travelin'Oma said...

I totally understand. I thought we needed every kid on the block to be wowed by our charms. Adults at least pretend to like each other!

I used to try to engineer friendships, and then I heard that one kid I was courting climbed down in the sewer during Sunday School to smoke. Another duo broke into the church and rode their bikes through the halls. My kids had wisely chosen other friends.

I felt bad that Josh didn't ever want to go golfing with the neighborhood gang and I kept encouraging it. He finally told me that they stole golf clubs at the pro shop. After that I decided maybe we didn't need to be best friends to everybody! My kids got it way before I did.

Beckie Steele said...

Yet another reason why you should move to my neighborhood..... I am already convinced of all your families charms! Hurry, they are growing up too fast (and please bring some baked goods when you come!).

danandcindy said...

You should totally cyber bully him. You should post photos of him, photoshopped as Napoleon (Bonapart and Dynamite), and his name and totally make up stories about him.

That will teach him.

Tristan said...

I have no problem if someone's kid doesn't like me. Chances are, I don't like that kid either. So no big deal to me. Yeah, you have issue ;-)

But I agree with you. Why wouldn't he like you and your kids?!? He is clearly crazy.

house of seven said...

this is a toughy! but... why try to win the affection of a short angry boy? i don't see the point. unless he's got a wealth of gold stashed in his basement and is looking to give it away to one of his neighbors. then, i say, go for it! ☺

sounds like you are always nice to him, and maybe that's all you need to do. at least you can say, we tried and were never unfriendly to him. (i think in the long run, he will remember that.)

Lindsey said...

It's called short man's complex. Check into it. It cannot be fixed.
No matter cookies, or playdates. I deal with it a lot. I know.

Julianna said...

I have learned that if a child doesn't like my kids... we're all better for it.

I am SO over needing to be liked... lately, I just want to be left alone. :)

Lauren in GA said...

Holy Moly. You and I are so alike in this!

He sounds like he is unhappy. Unfortunately, it seems like he is at peace with being unhappy...and wants to keep in that way...

I want to say, "Yeah, that kid has problems if he doesn't like you and yours" but that wouldn't be nice of is most likely true...but it wouldn't be nice.

Wait a minute...I'm not really all that nice...despite my trying to convince everyone that I am...

That kid has problems if he does not like you and yours.

wreathofpearls said...

If you gave this bully some of your famous homemade chocolate chip cookies, that would surely end the battle. The battle with the French would have ended a lot sooner, had the Prussian army and Wellington had your chocolate chip cookies. They could have cut the 23 years of fighting down to a weekend!

Liz said...

Listen, your family has huge amounts of fans. You are all amazing, talented, beautiful individuals. I get where you are coming from though, I am plagued with the suspicion that I like everyone else substantially more than they like me.