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.

Noisytoddler Wed 26-Jun-13 09:30:37

DS is always barefoot.

When I say run, it's not racing, just trotting along to his room and back. We don't let him run round and round in circles for a game (at least not inside).

I might talk to DH about getting a thick rug for the corridor/hall bit as that seems to be the worst for the neighbour.

Not sure where she got our phone number from to be honest. We didn't give it to her and it's just our landline which we hardly use.

I'm now having second thoughts about his birthday party, although I might just follow what others do and put up a notice saying sorry about the noise in advance.

She never seems to leave the flat either which probably makes it all worse.

I do want to make the problem go away. But I also don't think a toddler running to his room is a problem. Prolonged noise yes, a 20 second run to a room, no.

Dackyduddles Wed 26-Jun-13 09:32:32

I'd only stop a toddler running a few steps indoors if she had picked up something dangerous eg scissors. A few steps running is hardly worth grinding them down for.

Or should I ensure enjoyment and laughing are also kept out of the house too?

Ffs

landofsoapandglory Wed 26-Jun-13 09:33:42

I would absolutely hate to live in a flat underneath one where a toddler is allowed to run around. They sound like a baby elephant has moved in upstairs, so I feel sorry for your neighbour.

I'm with Neo, I've got 2 DC and they have never, ever been allowed to run around indoors. I've, also, been a nursery supervisor and spent months teaching DC not to run around inside to prevent accidents because parents let their DC run around in the house. Running is for outside!

kotinka Wed 26-Jun-13 09:36:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lowercase Wed 26-Jun-13 09:38:56

You don't think it's a problem OP, but it clearly is for your neighbour.
If you want the problem to go away, you will have to talk to the DC about running in the house.
It's not really behaviour i would want to encourage or condone.
I ask my DC to use indoor voices too - as we live in a flat and not a detached home. I want my children to be considerate, respectful and welcome anywhere.

PickledInAPearTree Wed 26-Jun-13 09:38:59

Agree noisy toddler. Unless you train him up with some whistles in the style of captain von trapp?

He's out all day, in bed all night and just does the odd spot of scampering here and there. Really?

I lived next to a family that let their kids run wild with noisy toys up & down stairs all hours of day and night. That was annoying. This is totally different.

BridgetBidet Wed 26-Jun-13 09:39:59

I was in exactly this situation from the other side. I lived below a non-carpeted flat with a toddler in it. It sounds like someone banging really hard and fast on the floor every few minutes. It really is difficult to live with. It's on a par with having a team of extremely noisy builders in all day every day. It's not just the running, the gap between the floorboards and the ceiling massively amplifies the noise as does the vibration of the floorboards.

In my case this was solved by my family and the neighbours going halves on some underlay and a thick carpet which massively reduced the noise. It dampened everything down hugely.

You need to carpet, there's no two ways about it. Then you won't have to worry every time he runs or jumps. But really, you do need to carpet.

Could you approach your neighbour and suggest this as a solution? How about suggesting she pays for the underlay to reduce the noise and you pay for the carpet?

PickledInAPearTree Wed 26-Jun-13 09:46:19

I'd be tempted to test the noise by going in and listening to it. A toddler going wild must be quite noisy but doing a scamper to a bedroom and back? I can't really hear mine doing that upstairs.

Consideration is keeping him out in the days, stopping him going totally wild running around, no banging etc. OP sounds like she is doing quite a lot already.

Would a Parisian have neen as apologetic do you think, or would they have shrugged off her initial complaint? I live abroad too and know Germans are certainly not as apologetic as Brits, you can leave yourself looking as if you think you're terribly in the wrong, which invites the other party to expect you to change your behaviour to suit them, in a way they wouldn't have if you'd been less apologetic initially ....

fedupofnamechanging Wed 26-Jun-13 09:57:24

I would buy some rugs, but that is the only concession I would make. I would be making formal complaints about her phone calls - that's harassment. I think if she wants to not here any noise she needs to buy a house in the middle of a field and not live in a flat.

I would tell her to fuck off next time she called. In being so nice and considerate, she is now taking the piss.

fedupofnamechanging Wed 26-Jun-13 09:58:36

here should say hear.

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

Is she lonely?

beginnings Wed 26-Jun-13 10:10:47

She should try staying in my parents place in Nice for a couple of nights. The people upstairs have a baby, but that's not the noise that keeps us up at night grin

(v. funny when MIL came with us on holiday and poor DH spent the following day thinking she was thinking it'd been us!)

Oh and YANBU. It's one of the reasons that, if I live in a flat again, it'll only ever be top floor. Unless your toddler is wear stillettos or football boots (which clearly a barefoot babe is not), then she is DBU

beginnings Wed 26-Jun-13 10:12:04

*wearing

Gah!

fluffyraggies Wed 26-Jun-13 10:12:15

Daily phone calls would drive me nuts! It's OTT in this situation. No one is saying it's ok to thunder about in a flat for hours - but this isn't what the little boy is doing. What does she say if you do pick up??? Does she chat to you, or is it just a snappy ''i can hear him again!''?

The situation as it stands is untenable. Who ever is at fault, she shouldn't be calling you every day.

You are already restricting your DSs running. Buy some cheap rugs for the larger hard floor areas when your DS does run. As this could be an easy way to put an instant end to the problem. See if that helps. If your DH is that set against rugs tell him to find a way to sort the problem with the old girl out himself!

If the rugs don't help, then i am afraid you will have to accept that you've either got to put up with the phone going every day (ignore), or you need to complain about her.

fluffyraggies Wed 26-Jun-13 10:13:38

Or change your phone no.? ....

Owllady Wed 26-Jun-13 10:18:54

I would get some rugs put down
I lived ina house with a lounge above a basement kitchen and if the children were upstairs the noise from the floor suspension was really quite loud and horrible
I am not agreeing she should keep pestering you though, but maybe compromise in order to get through it all

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 26-Jun-13 11:10:08

I enforce no running because my niece was burned when she ran into my mil who was leaving the kitchen with a full cup of coffee it went all over myniece who smacked right into her

EasterHoliday Wed 26-Jun-13 11:14:28

you live in central paris with a toddler. living in the centre of town with a small child is going to involve compromise, so either put some rugs and underlay down and have some consideration for your neighbours or move to the bois and run around all you like.
she needs to compromise by accepting that she lives in central paris and it's noisy too.
apartment living is all about compromise.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 26-Jun-13 11:16:28

As for those who wondered what work an 80 year old could be doing....she could be a writer! She could be painting...anything! Plenty of 80 year olds work.

gotthemoononastick Wed 26-Jun-13 11:54:43

Thank you God that Hiddenhome (so harsh about elderly patients) will never be my nurse!!!

Pigsmummy Wed 26-Jun-13 11:56:42

I agree that a nice carpet runner with a decent rubbery underlay, it won't be expensive and get your son to wear slippers/soft soled shoes inside.

I lived in flats in London and the sound of a running child on wooden floors was more annoying than baby cries or loud music/tv (or the Latin couple upstairs having sex Every morning).

Noisytoddler Wed 26-Jun-13 12:05:30

DH has agreed on a rug if it looks nice.

I have to say, I think it's a bit my Britishness. DH is French and does the gaelic shrug very well grin

He doesn't like that we're bothering our neighbour but at the same time feels that we are being reasonable (see OP for the fact that DS is the only noise to bother anyone)

I've spoken to some French colleagues and they tend to feel that it's part and parcel of living in flats - that you hear the neighbours.

She didn't mention it at the AGM which surprised us.

Thing is, where we live is noisy. It's on a main road, there's always building work/road works/demonstrations etc. going on and the restaurant on the ground floor has outside seating so there is noise up until 1am. Our flat was previously owned by a family too (the woman who sold it to us grew up there).

Noisytoddler Wed 26-Jun-13 12:07:25

Oh and DS is never allowed to bang toys on the floor. Certain toys are only under supervision (eg the hammer and pegs, to stop him hammering anything else!).

DoJo Wed 26-Jun-13 12:18:54

Could you maybe show willing, go downstairs and have a listen and if it's loud then agree a resolution. It might be something as simple as telling her that he will always be in bed (or at least not running around) by x time, so she will know that there is an end in sight if it is getting to her, or offering to buy her noise cancelling headphones to wear whilst she works if that would help (not saying she has to wear them, but if she'd be happy to that could solve all the problems at once). Even if you just appear to be meeting her in the middle it might make it easier for you all to rub along nicely together.

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