Something horrible happened to me yesterday....advice would be great!

(15 Posts)
FragileTitanium Mon 28-Jan-13 14:25:42

Yesterday, my husband, little girl and I were walking across a narrow church path to get to another street. Just as I was a few metres away, I noticed our former neighbour standing with his little son.

We lived next to this man and his wife for 2 years and during this time, he developed a severe hatred of me (not my husband and (hopefully) not my daughter), which was quite scary.

When we first moved into the house, we made our usual effort to get along with our neighbours - inviting them to drinks, giving them some of my baked goods, baby things (she was pregnant at the time). They took the things proffered but didn't ever accept invitations to drinks/lunch, cups of tea etc. We stopped asking after a few months - fair enough, not everyone has to like us.

Since that time, the only interaction we've ever had with them was to ask the man not to carry out his DIY renovations on the party wall after 7pm (my little girl's bedtime). Which made him extremely livid and which he ignored. It was a relief when they moved house.

Back to yesterday. Life's too short to hold grudges, so instead of walking past him and his now toddler without saying a word, I said, "wow, he's grown." The man said "yes, he has." Then, because I love children, I crouched down to say hello to the little boy, who was very cute. The man started saying loudly, "No, no, no, no", then he knocked my hand away (I was going to touch the little boy's shoulder), and then loudly said, "Stop bothering us!" and then walked away.

My husband and I were speechless with shock. This man is very much taller and bigger than me and his palpable anger scared me.

I completely understand that parents have every right to decide who their children talk to, but to react in that physical way was really shocking to me. His wife was waiting for him in the garden of the church and I'm absolutely sure he would not have behaved in this way in front of his wife.

This man lives in the same suburb and I occasionally see him around, usually I say hello and he ignores me but this was quite different. I was upset for the rest of the day. It scares me to think that one can inspire that level of hatred without meaning to.

I know it's silly to dwell on it, but I feel a bit scared and upset today. My husband says forget about it - he's just that kind of person (he was very nasty to the lovely man who bought their house) but I guess I wanted to hear someone completely impartial say it....

OhIWishThereWasABook Mon 28-Jan-13 14:28:44

Sounds like a complete loon. Glad you don't live next door to him anymore!

FragileTitanium Mon 28-Jan-13 14:32:31

Thanks! You are right. I should have just thought "nutter". Instead, I immediately thought, "What on earth have I done to make him this angry".

Silver lining, the new neighbour was absolutely LOVELY and we still keep in touch even though we've moved house.

OhIWishThereWasABook Mon 28-Jan-13 14:34:44

That's me too, I always wonder what I might have done to offend people. In this case I really don't think you need to worry-at all.

Catsdontcare Mon 28-Jan-13 14:36:55

He sounds barking mad tbh. But I think given you knew how much he dislikes you that you should have left it at the brief "hasn't he grown"

Beamur Mon 28-Jan-13 14:40:32

Sorry that you've had a scare, but, you haven't really read the signals from this man even though you are aware of them - you say he hates you, yet you stop to make conversation and then attempt to touch his child (however benign you feel that to be)
Put yourself in the position that you have a neighbour you hate, they then insist on chatting with you as if there is no problem and are tactile and over friendly with your child...
I'm not criticising you as you sound like a nice, friendly person, but I'd just give this guy a wide berth if you see him again.

fubbsy Mon 28-Jan-13 14:52:52

Yes life is too short to hold grudges, but equally life is too short to be involved with nasty people. Avoid!

You have had a shock and YANBU to be upset. Your dh is right though, just forget this person.

I am sorry but, what you regard as friendliness, some might find intrusive and suffocating.

Your "usual" neighborliness, would have me think you were an interfering weirdo. Baked goods? Why on earth would anybody want a strangers baked goods (unless you are that poster who bakes all day and gets mad at her husband for eating the burnt bits) ? Second hand clothes? Sorry, it sounds nuts.
I live by my dads saying "Good neighbours are great, and should be kept at arms lenght" and "Dont mix neighbours and friends, and all will be well".

I dont understand why you could not leave it at a polite "hello" and move on.

Moominsarehippos Mon 28-Jan-13 15:08:04

The man's a loon! What is the wife like? Maybe in his little world he thinks you said something about him, maybe his wife said something about you... Who cares, he isn't a friend, relative or colleague. Ignore him completely in future.

Some people are just weird. Maybe you remind him of an old, hated headmistress?

Hullygully Mon 28-Jan-13 15:09:33

You tried to assault his child and you have clearly been stalking him and ruining his renovations. What did you expect?

FragileTitanium Mon 28-Jan-13 16:21:16

The people who say I knew what he was like and should give him a wide berth - you are all absolutely right. I have learnt my lesson. In hindsight, it does seem a bit bonkers to keep trying to be friendly when I know he hates me.

Perhaps the people who say my neighbourliness is overbearing are right too. However, in our little community - sharing baked goods, inviting neighbours to drinks etc, asking people if they'd like baby things (new, unopened - not old clothes - which were accepted when offered) are par for the course. It's one of the nice things about getting out of London. When I lived in London, I would never have dreamed of doing that and indeed, had anyone else tried to do it to me, I would have thought it weird. However, your point is taken - perhaps I was too excited about living in such a nice community and will definitely be more circumspect in future.

Those people who say that touching a child on the shoulder is unacceptable are perhaps right too. In my culture, it is normal, but perhaps not here.

In any event, I've learned something from every one who posted here - so many thanks for taking the time.

Moominsarehippos Mon 28-Jan-13 16:32:42

It says more about you that him btw. You come across as a friendly and open person. You need to learn to take a hint though - some people are very suspicious and really don't like people (especially folk they don't like) touching their kids. Of course, most people are polite/not mad enough to not start making a scene abut it.

Fragile, it is normal in Norway, where I am from, too.

My neighbour would give me bagloads of clothes her son had grown out of. Same age as mine, just once size taller! grin We are talking Nike tops, and Adidas football jogging bottoms, leather jackets and jeans! His older sister worked in an upmarket sports shop, had 30% staff discount, and mum worked in a childrens clothes store, also getting a 30% staff discount. Her youngest son had a bulging wardrobe, and twice a year mum would have clearance, I think I got 10 full bags per year...... I was very pleased. We helped them with computer problems, so was a nice trade off.

But some neighbourhoods in London are like that too!

My neighbour (keyholder) locked herself in and repainted my kitchen while I was on holiday last year. She also refurbished my fireplace. But not everybody knows how to handle such kindness!

FragileTitanium Mon 28-Jan-13 19:26:30

Thank you very much for your comments.

Clearly, I've been a bit of an idiot and in hindsight (foresight for most of you) what I should have done was to say firmly and politely, "excuse me" and most likely he would have moved aside the narrow path, and we could have been on our way. Social ineptitude on my part. It seems so obvious now, but I was a bit flustered at the time. He was very big, glaring and standing across the narrow path in front of me.

Another possibility as to why he might really hate me and not my husband though we've had the same interaction occurred to me but probably nothing to be gained from discussing it.

Thanks for your honesty. My friends, though lovely, have taken my side and I've not really gained any insight, though much comfort, from their hilarious comments.

lemonmuffin Tue 29-Jan-13 18:53:58

He's a nutter.

Give him a wide berth from now on.

YANBU

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