I always like to think of myself as being considerate of others. I was brought up this way and it is still a very important trait to me. I may sound a little like an old woman but I think there is a lot to be said for having a few old fashioned values and being aware of those who live around us and considering them is one I will also bring my son up by.
But are times changing and has there been a shift in society and the way we view others? Does everybody just put themselves first and forget how other people may feel?
In my life, I have lived in 10 different homes, so before I begin to explain my current issues I want you to have a clear picture of what I have experienced before. Most have been peaceful, enjoyable and surrounded by nice neighbours. Yes, some places may have had the odd inconsiderate neighbour, but there was never a huge issue and sometimes the situation was quite laughable; like the alcoholic couple who me and my hubby once lived next door to in our maisonette, who would play ‘sweet child of mine’ on repeat on a Sunday morning! Then after an argument, she would play ‘flying without wings’ (yep, complete other end of the spectrum) on repeat… not sure if they owned any other singles!! Or the lady who lived above me, my Mum and sister in another maisonette, who suffered from Bipolar and would have some extremely low points and be very loud, bang about, throw items and play loud music. In that situation there was a reason for this occasional noise and that’s what it was, occasional. These were situations you could live with and even though at times it may have annoyed us, believe me it was nothing compared to what we put up with now.
We saved hard for our house. We moved in with my hubby’s parents and saved every penny to get a deposit and try and find our forever home. One of my ambitions was to finally own a house and not have to ever move again. When a four-bed house in a town not too far away came up within our price range we could not believe our luck. Located in a new housing development, with a school behind the close, one park across the road, one up the road, a field for dog walks a little further up and a leisure park just a 2-minute drive it seemed so perfect. We visited a few times and checked out the area and it was always quiet.
We moved in May 2011 and had 3 lovely years here. Our next door neighbours were a couple about our age and we all worked full time and didn’t have children. Other neighbours were mostly older couples with grown-up children, but most we didn’t know or see at all. Naturally, people come and go and with more people choosing to rent we have seen an increase in the number of houses here being bought to let, so we’ve had more comings and goings in the last couple of years.
This has led to different families and children coming in, with varying ages. This does not, however, stop them from all becoming friends and attracting children from other estates and creating large gangs. These kids began to view our street as a giant playground regardless of the fact that there is a park over the road. With bikes, scooters, roller skates, footballs, basketballs, screaming, shouting, swearing and at times music playing the noise just grew and grew. (There have been issues with adult neighbours too but if I wrote about all of it, it could well turn into a book! So I will stick to the one affecting my son).
Last year the warm weather had hit early and each half term from February saw children playing outside day and night. By the time the summer holidays arrived we had children from other streets joining in and there was no let up – I even watched a child skateboard down the road gone 10:30pm one night over and over again!
Children who play day and night in a street become bored, so new games need to be created. These games involved knocking on people’s doors and running away, banging on windows and running away, breaking branches off of trees, littering, shouting abuse and sitting on bonnets of cars, the list could go on. Once I started to confront them and ask them not to bang on my door/window/car etc. it all became so much worse as I then became their target.
My son has a bedtime of 7pm so you can imagine how my evenings went each night… up and down the stairs comforting a crying child. The knock on effect of all of this was a very tired child in the day and an exhausted mum and dad from never getting any rest.
It is hard to describe exactly what it became like and due to this, I have come under attack on facebook before when I have written out statuses in my frustration. I was often branded an old woman who needed to ‘lighten up’ and at least the kids were outside and not sat on computers. However, until you have lived a year of noise, kids, shouting, swearing, bangs on your house, rubbish thrown into your garden and watching what once was a clean, quiet and beautiful neighbourhood turn into a mess and a playground then you have no idea how helpless, frustrated, upset and angry you can become… I didn’t even recognise my own behaviour!
It was so unbearable that I was often ringing 101 to report our issues. I was then finally assigned a PCSO to help. Kids were spoken to as were some parents – by this point some other residents had begun to complain too. Now to me if I had been spoken to by an authoritative figure at that age I would never be doing anything wrong ever again – not that my Mum would even let me behave in that way in the first place! But not much changed. The kids continued, I continued to log complaints and the PCSO’s continued to patrol the area.
I was told to not confront the children any further as I was fuelling their fun to torment us – I had tried every tactic, being nice, explaining my situation, glaring at them and eventually yelling, none had any effect. BUT when my child was still being woken, when they were still screaming gone 9pm and banging on the wall/door I felt I had no choice but to go outside and say something. The PCSO’s cannot just drop everything and come out the moment you call and they also have real criminals to be dealing with, not annoying kids! It was a no win situation which became so unbearable that we started to consider moving house. Both worn out, both frustrated and getting at each others throats because we were so wound up was not worth staying for.
Even when we went on holiday and left my Dad to house sit the problems still occurred. My step mum has MS and due to this, she needs peace, quiet and rest. The children continued to bang on the outside wall, knock on the door and window and even started to bang on the garden gate. My Dad tried talking to them and explaining and even though they could see it wasn’t us there at the time it did not stop the behaviour. We were away 2 weeks and they both had to put up with the noise the entire time. I was mortified that they had to go through this when they were doing us a huge favour.
It really felt like enough was enough. We began to look on the internet and weigh up our options, checking out properties nearby on Rightmove. It turned out moving was an option far too expensive, so we decided to grin and bear it. I have received the comment before ‘why didn’t you speak to the parents?’ The problem was I had no idea who lived here, who lived on the other streets and who lived on a completely different estate! We have over 50 homes (houses and flats) in this close, I could not track down every child and frog march them to their parents to have a ‘discussion’. If the PCSO’s couldn’t do it there was no chance I could. I also really do not believe that the parents even cared. The noise was so loud that they must have heard it, but they probably just continued to watch the TV and enjoyed the peace they were getting inside their homes.
As the season turned to Autumn our issues started to fade and due to having a pretty long wet winter the problems so far this year have not been quite as bad. Plus some of the children are much older and are now finally allowed to play football over in the park- where there is a dedicated field with goals. I’ve heard a few kids out and even though they still know that Jake is small and is probably in bed they still do not stop to think.
This brings me back to consideration. If these children had been taught anything about considering others would they be acting in this way? If their parents were considerate would they be letting them out when they knew full well the PCSO’s were coming around due to the behaviour? Why do others not think that making noise so late at night is an issue? Is this a topic that needs to be covered in school lessons?
My biggest question is if these were adults behaving in this way each day and night how differently would they be treated by the police?!! What difference does it make if they are children? Should we not look at inconsiderate behaviour in one light, regardless of age, because if we are letting children get away with it now will they not just act this way as adults? Who knows?
I will continue to be considerate of all my neighbours even if they can’t be towards us, maybe a little bit of my behaviour will rub off onto them… well a girl can dream can’t she?!!