On The Fence

I have the hope that my children will read my blogs (far in the future) and be able to know how I think about some things on the off-chance that we never really discuss them. This is one of those subjects that gets fuzzy on a national stage but for me everything starts at the family level. After all, what is America if not one big dysfunctional family.

When we first moved into our neighborhood we were optimistic. Our family was just beginning to grow and it felt good to be moving into a new home near other young families like ours. Not to mention, the old neighborhood came with frequent incidents of drugs, prostitution, and miscellaneous violence. I wasn’t very keen on letting my children play outside in the yard. In fact, I didn’t really like to answer the door. I have a good story, Love Nest, that goes more in-depth if you want to know about our first home together.

So… we moved into a new home in a growing neighborhood and we had all the expectations of any other neighborhood; waving at neighbors as you mow the lawn on a Saturday morning; borrowing a cup of sugar to finish that homemade apple pie; kids riding around on their bikes and climbing trees with a rag-tag gang of nearby friends who all play until the street lights turn on. Like the Sandlot but with a more diverse, co-ed cast of children.

Then one day, while watching the children playing in the backyard a stray Rottweiler comes lumbering into the yard. We all went into the house and I went to look for the owner. She was walking down the road calling for the dog and I told her, “He’s behind my house.” She replied, “Oh good. Don’t try to pet him. He bites.” I was a little alarmed to know a large aggressive dog was living four houses down. “How did he get out?” I asked. “I can’t hold him, he is so big that he just goes where he wants”, she said. “Seems like a legal issue to me…” I said passively. It happened a few more times and my opinions became more direct.

Her dog wasn’t the only concerning one. There was a pit bull that wandered through about one a month. She was indifferent to people but not real excited about other dogs. At the time we had Biscuit who was like our first child. Biscuit was scared of her own shadow so she would have stood very little chance against a large aggressive dog with an anatomy for a killer bite.

We liked our neighbors. The kids played well together and we often played Frisbee or catch across all of the backyards. The neighborhood news spread through casual conversations while taking out the trash or raking leaves. It was fun and felt like community.

Then we got a swing set and a trampoline. We were in the talks of getting a small pool. The legal liability of having something that other people’s children can get hurt on was concerning. The potential for stray animals who are less than friendly was concerning. The media’s constant stories of creepy vans offering candy and hugs curbside to unsuspecting children was beyond concerning. We decided to build a fence.

It makes me think about other scenarios where fences and walls are being discussed. For us, the fence has very little to do with neighbors and everything to do with controlling the environment for our children. Regulating who and what is allowed to access our backyard. We can’t patrol our backyard constantly so our fence is a reasonable barrier for when our eyes are elsewhere. I have to fill in some holes when squirrels burrow under and repair boards that get knocked out from time to time. Anyone is welcome at our house as long as they ask and come in through the gate.

If you think fences, moats, walls, or barriers are necessary then this post is for you. The anger that many people have towards walls is most likely a frustration that we even need them in the first place. A few risks ruin what could be a beautiful open community. At some point we have to decide if the risk is worth the reward. For me it wasn’t so I built a fence.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

10 comments

    1. They make for a restful mind. The real trouble is that you can never know your neighbors values and assuming them to be as noble as your own is a mistake in the parenting world. I would be lying if I said I didnt enjoy a little turmoil though. It makes life interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ah, our move into our neighborhood was just like yours. When we moved in, the neighbors were all wonderful and no one bothered anyone else. We knew if the kids got in trouble, they could go to anyone on the street, even those few neighbors with whom we didn’t always see eye-to-eye. But then the neighborhood changed. People who moved in next door were arrogant, obnoxious and made no effort to control their own kids,their friends, or their dog. I once saw the father pick up his child and put the kid over our 3-foot chainlink fence so the kid could play in our yard. Say what? Said neighbor put a dead rat on the car of the neighbor on the other side and when the police were called, merely said the elderly man didn’t have a sense of humor. We put up a 6-foor privacy fence all around the back yard with a 3-foot wooden fence down side of the front yard to the sidewalk to keep the people, the dog, and the debris on their side. A month later, the neighbor on the other side of them also put up a 6-foot back fence and a 3-foot front fence. This is the only house on the street that has been bracketed that way. Everyone was thrilled when those deadbeats finally moved out. But the ones that came next are even worse. Were it not for the fences, there probably would be violence.

    The world is changing. The days of Ozzie and Harriet are long gone. Keeping your kids safe is your job. If you need a fence to do that job, no one has any right to complain.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! Once you’re an empty nester, you may want to look for that house in the country with NO neighbors, like we’re looking for right now. We’ve gone from being the house our kids’ friends loved to come to, to being the grumpy old farts who hate kids. Of course, the type of kids makes a big difference. If the current crop was like our kids and our kids’ friends, we wouldn’t have any issues, but the ones around here, at least, have grown up totally without parental supervision since they were 2. Not a good thing.

        Liked by 1 person

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