We’ve all seen children behave badly, and parents do nothing about it, or even worse, quickly defend them without asking questions. But for the parents of a certain young boy, they didn’t only defend their son, they stuck up for him and thought their neighbor was actually in the wrong — ignoring the fact their son caused a problem, and substantial damage to property.
The dilemma all began one day, when Neil was watching his parents’ house while they were out. His parents' neighborhood is located in a community with other families — the type of community you have to get out of once you’ve gained your independence, and then move back to once you start having kids. The issue though, is that one of the smaller villages within the community tends to give the rest a bad rap, and becomes a “giant pimple on an otherwise blemish-less area,” which leads to the family in question.
So, Neil was sitting outside, "minding [his] own business, scrolling some news sites, messaging friends,"— the usual activities a young adult does when they have nothing better to do, when he’s suddenly interrupted.
Hearing the family dog growl, he got up to see a soccer ball in the yard. Neil wasn’t necessarily surprised by the ball (because his parents allowed children to play near their yard all the time), but by the loud sound of wooden fence pickets breaking, followed by an aggressive crash. He then witnessed the boy (let’s call him Billy) from two houses down, falling through the fence, with the dog ready to attack.
Neil quickly abandoned his phone to take hold of the dog and put it inside. But meanwhile, Billy was already scurrying away with his ball, attempting his escape through the fence again. Neil stopped him, grabbed his shirt and asked, "And where do you think you are going?"
Billy shouted, as if in agony, "Let me go, Let me go!"
"I don't think so, you just broke the fence," Neil remembered yelling out. "So, you can either calm down and we go to your house to explain what happened, or I call the police."
Neil admitted that his approach was a little harsh, but understanding in this particular situation. Neil's parents had always let kids in the neighborhood play near their house. And they really didn't mind if a ball went in their yard hear and there, but breaking the fence and trying to flee was too much. And Neil would have to explain the situation to his parents as soon as they got home, and wouldn't be happy.
So, he had to make things right, by letting Billy's parents know what happened, as well as make sure they compensated his parents for the damages.
Neil took Billy to his house and knocked on the door, only to be greeted by an already aggravated woman (Billy’s mother, we’ll call Emma). Emma was yelling about how Billy has a key, and she didn't know why she had to get the door, not knowing he was just behind the front door.
As she opened it, she was surprised by the look of her son, as well as Neil, who was still firmly holding on to the boy.
Neil started with a quick "Hello, Miss, you—" but was cut off before he could get more than a few words in.
"Let go of my boy right now, what is wrong with you! (Her son crying like a younger version of himself)," Emma cried out. "HOW DARE YOU TOUCH MY SON!" She immediately became infuriated with Neil holding her son by his shirt, that she never thought why he might be holding him like that.
Neil tried his hardest to explain the situation, if Emma would "stop yelling," but before he could get too far into his request, Emma blurted out, "I AM NOT YELLING!"
Ironically, one of the other next door neighbors could hear everything that was happening, and ran outside to witness what the commotion was all about. And Neil didn't think much of the neighbor at the time, but knew he didn't like Billy's parent much. Still he continued to get a word in with Emma.
Neil, trying to remain calm in the situation, politely expressed, "Right, regardless, your son just broke my parents fence tryi-"
But like clockwork, Emma didn't let Neil finish his statement before she yelled out, "AND THAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO MANHANDLE MY SON!"
She interrupted to only divert from the problem as Neil explained he didn’t "manhandle" the woman's son, but simply grabbed his collar because he was attempting to run away, and not get caught for breaking the fence.
"Now, you can either calm down, and we can come to an agreement to handle this, or I can call the police and have them deal with it," Neil calmly explained to the woman and her terribly behaved child.
Neil used his threat again to try to reason with the woman, so Emma backed off a little but said, "Right. So, it’s not that bad" and called Billy over to apologize. And Billy, seemingly fine now, only after a few minutes, stuffing his face with candy, said a quick "Sorry" before he dashed away. Billy could care less, and it was evident that he probably got away with things like this before.
"Well, with that out of the way," Emma said as she began to shut the door in Neil's face. But Neil, not taking the brush-off lightly, put his foot in the way because despite what Emma, Billy, and his half hearted "apology," said, this wasn't over yet.
With his foot still in the door, Neil spoke up, "Excuse me? Your son broke the fence. It's all fine and dandy he gave half of an apology on your orders but that still leaves the fact he just broke a $200 wooden fence that will need to be replaced."
"MY SON SAID SORRY AND THAT IS THE END OF IT," yelled out Emma, who still failed to see the gravity of the current situation.
Neil explained that the incredulous mom again tried to close the door in his face, this time slamming it on Neil's foot that remained in the doorway. So, now a small occurrence with a soccer ball, had turned into borderline assault.
As Neil is just about to speak, a man appeared from inside of the house, a man that Neil would later describe as the woman's "hulking 5'5 muscle mass of a husband," who was there to intervene. Neil explained that the man (who we'll call Ed) stood there with "every muscle within his noodle-arms straining, his balding head glistening in the sun" looking up to his towering wife before asking one simple, yet hard to understand question:
"And what is the problem here?"
And after Emma explained Neil aggressively grabbed their son, Ed's small yet powerful frame filled up with rage.
"I will get you, you a-hole," Ed yelled out as jumped towards Neil, ready to attack.
So Neil, defending himself, exclaimed, "Look, dude, I didn’t do jack squat to your son, and the only one who has been yelling this entire time is your wife. Now, your son broke my parents' fence, so you can either get it repaired, or give me the money to buy a new one and pay me for the time it takes to replace it, or we can get the police involved."
And Neil was the first to admit that he didn’t really wish to contact the authorities, but because of Billy’s parents deflecting and arguing with him, he felt obligated, and wanted their cooperation. But Ed said that there was no proof their son caused any damage, and told Neil to "go fix it yourself! And if I ever se-"
Suddenly, the neighbor watching nearby interrupted, and said he saw everything, he knew their son broke the fence, tried to escape, and Emma just assaulted Neil with their door. So, Neil again explained the cost of what the repairs would be, and demanded they resolve the situation, which their son caused, as soon as possible. And after shrinking from embarrassment, Emma and Ed agreed to have the money the next day.
But the issues only continued.
Neil informed his parents of what happened as soon as they got home. And when he showed his dad the fence, "he was unhappy to say the least," and even though Emma and Ed were already an "annoyance to the entire street," this was too much. But they did agree to pay for the repairs to the fence. After Emma and Ed finally showed up, they didn’t apologize immediately, but deflected the occurrence on Neil, just like before.
"Yea, we are here to talk about what happened, how dare you think your son can talk like that to us," Emma chirped as she approached Neil's father, to which he responded, "No, you are here to pay for the damages to my fence. Besides that, I want absolutely nothing to do with you people."
Emma was shocked to see father and son were more alike than she thought and yelled out, "AND WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN!?"
Neil’s father then explained that he just wanted them to pay for damages, and he’d be able "to go back to not speaking" to them. Because in all honesty, Neil's father didn't care for Billy's parents much either. Shocking.
But these comments only put more gasoline onto the fire that Billy had set.
Before anyone could do anything, Emma jumped up and yelled out, "How dare you!? WE ARE HERE TO TALK ABOUT HOW RUDE YOUR SON WAS," in an attempt to infer that it was Neil who was in the wrong, and not the other way around. Neil had to not only stick up for his parents and their property, but protect himself and explain how he was treated in the situation.
"Was I rude before or after you yelled at me and slammed the door against my foot?" Neil asked. "Or perhaps when your husband made his hilarious attempt to threaten me?"
Billy’s parents were now cowering in disbelief, and searching for a comeback. But clearly didn't have much of an argument.
"Look, are you going to pay for the damages or are we just going to have to call the police? I am in no mood to deal with you people any longer then I am absolutely forced to deal with you," Neil's dad finally asked.
But Emma and Ed, well, they didn’t want to back down.
"NO, FIRST WE WANT YOUR SON TO APOLOGIZE FOR HOW HE BEHAVED!" the both yelled out, still not acknowledging their son’s mistakes.
Having enough of it all, Neil cried out, "Could you please stop yelling, we have neighbors you know?"
"SEE? BEING RUDE AGAIN!" Emma yelled out. "You better tone down the attitude."
At this point, Neil and his dad were more than annoyed, so Neil decided to pretend to look at numbers on his phone, threatening, "I’m calling the police. We will just have them deal with it." Neil's dad also chimed in, saying "Good idea. Now you people get off my front lawn. We’ll have the police deal with this."
The great nightmare was finally almost over.
Finally Emma and Ed gave in. And as they reluctantly handed Neil’s father payment for the fence, Neil’s dad asked "Was that truly so hard?" — and evidently it was.
People say there are two sides to every story, but here, it’s as if Emma and Ed only had one. They quickly turned the tables on Neil, and pointed their fingers at him for being disrespectful, when really he was just trying to take action, and do what was right. And at the end of the day, all Emma and Ed needed to do was have their son apologize, and offer to compensate for the damages to the fence (let alone acknowledge his inappropriate for themselves).
However, it was like pulling teeth to get them to own their duty as neighbors, as well as hold their son accountable. It wouldn't take a genius to suspect that Billy gets away for things like this all the time — thus, molding him into the fine, entitled, human being we can expect in the future.
We can only hope.