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to be losing sympathy with our neighbour?

(50 Posts)
Noisytoddler Wed 26-Jun-13 08:54:17

We live in a non-carpeted (it's central Paris and totally normal) family sized flat.

When we first moved in, it appeared that our downstairs neighbour was hard of hearing. 2 months after we moved in she was surprised to learn that there was a baby in the building (despite DS going through the 4 month sleep regression and crying all night).

We breathed a sigh of relief that we hadn't been disturbing her (she's in her 80s).

However, since DS has learnt to run she's been complaining about the noise he makes. She phoned a couple of times in one month. We were mortified and bought her a bunch of flowers to apologise. She said she understood that little ones are active but that it's really getting on her nerves and she can't concentrate for her work. We said we would be more careful in future, and we have been.

But ever since we apologised that first time she's been ringing practically daily to complain about the noise. She will "let" him run the length of our flat twice (he goes to fetch things from his bedroom) then will immediately complain.

Thing is, I'm starting to lose sympathy because :
1) DS makes no noise between 9pm and 8am (contrary to our upstairs neighbours, one of whom is insomniac and paces the floor in the early hours of the morning, but that's a different thread)

2) DS is out at playgroup/the park practically everyday from 9.30am til 5.30pm. We even take him out in the pouring rain so he can run off his energy

3) She barely waits to complain - as soon as DS has run to his bedroom twice she'll ring to complain. Even if we've been out of the flat all day

4) We never have friends over/parties in the evening and don't play music

I do feel bad at disturbing her (and if you feel IABU please give me tips to stop a 21 month old running!) and we do tell him to slow down, to walk or to tiptoe but he doesn't remember. I honestly don't know what else we can do. We've even stopped inviting little friends over to play cos we can't stop them running.

Thing is, she has said she'll complain to the building management but she actually doesn't have a leg to stand on because it's not illegal to make "daily life" noises between 8am and 9pm. The police are pretty good here at breaking up loud parties in the early hours of the morning but I highly doubt they'd come out to tell a toddler to stop running...

Anyway AIBU to be losing sympathy with her? I'm not going to start letting DS run when he likes but neither am I going to be tying him up to stop him moving around our own flat.

DeepRedBetty Wed 26-Jun-13 08:57:48

Two things immediately spring to mind.

One is, does the french phone service have Caller Display, so you can ignore her calls and let it go to answerphone?

The other, could you lay a roll of cheap runner carpet to absorb some of his running noises?

hiddenhome Wed 26-Jun-13 08:59:50

She's being ridiculous and totally unreasonable. It sounds like she has control issues. You should phone the management company yourself and explain the situation. Get in first just in case she does phone them.

Please don't stop inviting other toddlers over. Your ds needs social contact with other littlies.

Perhaps if you're feeling generous you could always put a couple of rugs/runners down to try and muffle the noise.

I'm a care of the elderly nurse and I can tell you that once an elderly person has something to rattle on about, they tend to take it to extremes, so this seems to be her 'thing'. Don't think it means that the noise your ds is making is unreasonable, she just has a bee in her bonnet about it. It's giving her something to whinge on about and some people thrive on that.

raisah Wed 26-Jun-13 09:00:13

If she is hard of hearing then how can she hear your child run but not scream through the night? i think she is taking advantage of your thoughtfulness and is making a nuisance of herself. Have a quiet word with the building management and see what can be done about her harrassing you on a daily basis.

Oh OP YAsooooooNBU. My downstairs neighbour is exactly the same, though he shows his displeasure by banging on the ceiling and slamming doors rather than talking to me like a civilised person hmm

You could try putting a runner carpet down, but tbh it won't make that much difference to a toddler's noise. It certainly doesn't for us! Have you tried explaining to your neighbour that there's not a lot you can actually do short of tethering your toddler to the sofa? Surely it's reasonable to expect your child to be able to move around in their own house, particularly if you're out all day!

Afraid I don't have any practical advice for you as the solution I took to our problem was to move asap grin But I hope you can get it sorted out.

Noisytoddler Wed 26-Jun-13 09:04:38

Thanks I'm torn between feeling bad and getting annoyed!

To be honest, we do filter her calls. We just treat her calls like a modern banging of a broom on the ceiling. Once the phone rings and we see it's her we stop DS from whatever he is doing.

I would answer the phone too but then I wouldn't be able to grab DS at the same time!

I would put down a runner except I'm not at all sure where we'd find one and DH is most distinctly French and hates all carpets with a passion!

I might talk to him about contacting the building management about her daily phone calls.

mignonette Wed 26-Jun-13 09:04:43

Get in there first and complain about harassment. Then block her calls. Maybe she is hearing noises that are not there. Some hearing losses can cause Tinnitus or other sensory phenomena or maybe she has some cognitive impairment causing changes in affect.

Ifancyashandy Wed 26-Jun-13 09:06:53

I have a certain amount of sympathy with your neighbour, having lived underneath a heavy running toddler who ran across wooden floors. It is annoying. That said, I have never and would never complain - its part of living in flats and I'm sure my singing along to the radio can be just as irritating!

What I would say is it's the not knowing how long the running is going to go on for that drove me batty - it feels like you have no control over the atmosphere in your own home. It could be a quick burst of noise or it could be intermittent all evening / day etc. You just get relaxed as it ends and then boom it starts up again. Does that make sense?

My situation was resolved when they moved and the new owner put rugs down and appears to walk barefoot / in slippers. Might that help?

Mimishimi Wed 26-Jun-13 09:09:59

She's probably l

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 26-Jun-13 09:11:40

I am on the fence here. Firstly I do understand that it's annoying to feel that you are being "ruled" by someone but I don't see why you're letting your child run in the house.

I have two lively DC and they're never allowed to run in the house...never have been. It's dangerous and also not good practice once they begin school...they need to learn that indoors is not for running....or shouting. Those things are for outside...parks and gardens and beaches.

bookishandblondish Wed 26-Jun-13 09:12:59

Is it the vibration rather than noise that's the issue? If she's deaf, then maybe she finds the vibrations frightening especially as it won't be predictable.

I live in a flat - and I do find it alarming when noise suddenly starts/ stops especially if I can't place it.

Get a rug is my advice

ldt87 Wed 26-Jun-13 09:13:38

I sympathise with you here. Once someone has a bee in their bonnet like this its hard to get it dropped. I lived in an upstairs flat with two under 2. The whole time I was with my ex, I got on brilliantly with the lady downstairs, the minute I split up with him and was a young single mum she hated me.

She called the council about me daily, had noise monitoring equipment brought in and even rang social services. The woman made my life hell.

All you can do is try to keep the peace as much as possible, but also be assertive that you are doing nothing wrong. I never stuck up for myself and just about had a breakdown worrying about what it would be next. I moved in the end. I would advise you to not act like you have something to apologise for. If she moans, just say something along the lines of it being normal family noise at a reasonable hour and that kids will be kids.

Don't be bullied by this person, ignore her calls and speak to management first and say that she is harassing you daily. If she thinks you agree that it's your problem you will never get this to end.

Mimishimi Wed 26-Jun-13 09:14:57

She's probably just lonely and your big mistake was to give her your number. I know my grandfather would do something like this just to chat to someone ( in his case a daycare went in next door to the bottom of his large garden..you can't hear the noise at all in his house).If she had to come upstairs to complain, she'd probably do it on less occasions. Could you put some extra rugs down though?

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 26-Jun-13 09:16:10

Do people really think it's ok to let children run in the house?

ldt87 Wed 26-Jun-13 09:18:01

Just to add the councils noise monitoring picked up normal levels of noise, and social services did not humour her, but did speak to me about the call. It still ruined my day to day life. My poor kids couldn't do anything in their own home.

I like to think in the same situation again I would stick up for myself much better. I hope you get this sorted.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Wed 26-Jun-13 09:18:02

Could she be ringing as she knows you will instantly stop your son (as you say as soon as you see her calling you stop him running)?
She sounds to be very controlling.
I would let DS continue to run around and not give in to her controlling tactics. If you take him out for extended periods every day and then he is in bed by 8pm that doesn't leave long for him to make enough noise to disrupt a days work. I would therefore conclude she is doing it to cause you upset.
Let him do what little children do.
Keep taking him out as much as you can to socialise, and keep to a good bed time as much as possible. Then if she does report you and they come out you can say he is out between 9:30am and 5:30pm, and he is in bed by 8pm. Therefore allowing her plenty of time to work!

FederationPresidentBarryFife Wed 26-Jun-13 09:20:24

Could you invite her over? For coffee and to chat. Maybe if she, you and your little one met up and even bonded she would think twice about calling - although she might still call but for a chat!

Can I ask whether your DS is wearing shoes or is running barefoot? Shoes will make a lot more noise and vibration.
Secondly, is there any chance that she is lonely and is using a phonecall as a contact with someone?
It might help if you warn her when you are going to invite other children round, don't stop doing it, but maybe limit it to once a week and tell her in advance.
I'm also wondering what "work" a rather deaf, 80 yo is doing that needs serious concentration. (I know it's a bit ageist but still....)

julieann42 Wed 26-Jun-13 09:21:49

By run I'm sure the op doesn't mean runing like you would a race

ldt87 Wed 26-Jun-13 09:22:02

Neo, it's not okay to let them run i don't think, but toddlers who've just mastered it seem to sort of run everywhere sounding like baby elephants. It's a normal part of being that age. I would put rugs down and encourage walking and quietness, I wouldn't however put myself in the situation again of constantly telling my children off for normal child behaviour in case of upsetting some miserable busy body with moving better to do. Children make noise, it can be irritating, I would never make another person's life hard like this if they had been polite and tried to make things better. We all have to live somewhere.

Morgause Wed 26-Jun-13 09:22:42

I'd just get a runner. Your DH's tastes would come second to solving the problem.

She's an old lady and your DC is making a noise that upsets her. Why wouldn't you want to make the problem go away?

PickledInAPearTree Wed 26-Jun-13 09:23:36

I think it's ok for a toddler to run in a house.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Wed 26-Jun-13 09:24:59

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie - Yes I do think it is ok for my children to run in my house. My DC run around in the living room, and their bedrooms. They know not to run around in the kitchen or bathroom, or to mess about on the stairs.
I want my children to feel comfortable in their own home. They have never been hurt as a result of running around in the house.

lowercase Wed 26-Jun-13 09:26:25

If you can hear your neighbour pacing a toddler running must be pretty loud...
I live in a flat and had the same issue, I put a runner in the hall and rug in the living area.
I ask the children not to bang because of the neighbours.

Put yourself in her place...
I would be apologising again, keeping a close eye on the children, and keeping communication open with the neighbour.
From the tone of your post you can tell you are not really bothered about the noise...it's affecting the quality of someone's life and i think you ought to be doing all you can to minimise the noise.

Bit of a jumble there but you know what I'm saying.
You are no more important than her, don't be selfish!

mrscog Wed 26-Jun-13 09:28:12

I'm not sure neo but I do think it depends on the size of house and age of child. For instance I'm in a small 2 bed terrace. There is simply no room for a toddler to run, so I would enforce no running. However, at a relation of mine's house there is a massive wide empty corridor. It is SO alluring to toddlers to run and I think it's fine for younger children to run in - I would stop them when they're older, but I think a bit of discretion is needed.

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