When the vacant house next door to you finally sells, you learn that the new owners don’t have any kids. No kids? How odd! you think.
You run through a gamut of emotions: disappointment, relief, fear. You finally accept the unknown card that fate has dealt you and assume (because assuming is easier than finding out) that the new neighbors simply don’t have a life. Or at least not one that is as important and fulfilling as yours.
You were raised to be welcoming and hospitable, but you just don’t have time for all that these days. Instead, you decide to welcome them with the generous gift of allowing them access to your family. Here is how to make the childless couple next door regret buying their house in 12 easy steps:
1. Before the moving van has finished unloading, get a jump start on the latest school fundraiser by sending your kids next door with the paperwork. The new neighbors will want to ensure an amicable future relationship with your family, and you need to take full advantage of this. Let a catalog of overpriced summer sausage and wrapping paper be your goodwill ambassador. Continue to shamelessly exploit their generosity by hitting them up for support. Every. Single. Fundraiser.
2. Don’t discourage your kids from asking the new neighbors blatantly rude questions about their child-free lifestyle. Everyone in the neighborhood is wondering the same thing, and this will save you the embarrassment of appearing nosy. Kids can’t be expected to exhibit silly things like manners and tact, right?
3. Put the new neighbors’ phone number down on your kids’ school forms as the Emergency Contact if you’re not available, but don’t tell them ahead of time. Let them be surprised when the school nurse calls with your kids vomiting in the office, needing to be picked up. Also, explain that the nurse wasn’t being unreasonable when she required them to fill out IChat Privacy/Background forms before releasing your kids; it’s standard protocol in today’s crazy world. (Don’t feel hypocritical when you post pictures of your friends’ kids on social media without their permission; birthday party fun is meant for sharing.)
4. Borrow stuff and don’t return it—power tools, ladders, size 8 ½ dress shoes—because you can’t possibly be expected to keep track of whose things are whose. If these people are so concerned with material possessions, why’d they lend it to you in the first place?
5. When you have a package scheduled for delivery then realize you won’t be home, don’t complicate your busy life by rescheduling; just have it sent to your neighbors’ house—especially if it’s perishable or COD—and they can bring it over at your convenience.
6. Ask if one of them could pop over and keep an eye on your kids while you make a quick trip to the store to pick up another round of Nix.
7. Agree to help your oldest take care of their cat while they are on vacation for two weeks, and then call their cell phone the day before they get home to ask when exactly they leave on their trip. And note the awful smell coming from inside their house.
8. Don’t admit to any wrongdoing on your part when your unsupervised kids snip the heads off the neighbors’ prize roses. Instead, send the youngest next door with a bouquet of the remains tied up with an old hair ribbon and carry on, smug in the knowledge that when your offspring is cute, no apology is ever necessary.
9. Ask if you can set up your Slip ‘N Slide on their property since it has more of an incline than yours. Proceed to flood their yard because you forget to turn the hose off, then leave the thing set up for so long that it kills the grass underneath. Again, skip the apology because, you know, kids.
10. Casually mention that your husband’s Uncle Ed is being released on parole any day now and will be staying in your shed until he finds a job and affordable housing—and yes, you’re aware that your shed is ten feet from their bedroom window—and no, he’s not allowed to set foot in your house because you have children to protect.
11. Nominate them to be president and vice president of the neighborhood association since they have more free time than anybody else.
12. Enact a naptime ordinance during which the entire vicinity around your house must be at a zero noise level. Enforce this by issuing cutesy tickets to violators with photo-shopped pictures of your kids’ heads on Mara Salvatrucha13 gang members’ bodies. Hilarious but also gets the point across that you’re dead serious.
By now, your new neighbors will be contacting their realtor to inquire if that condominium in the adult-only village is still available. Don’t feel bad—not everyone is equipped with the altruistic mindset it takes to be around families with kids.
About Michelle Riddell