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Need help to find a compromise...footballs in the garden.

(21 Posts)
bentneckwine1 Tue 16-Jun-09 13:32:59

I recently moved into this house from a flat and I am still finding my feet with the whole garden/neighbours etiquette so would appreciate your points of view and advice to find a realistic compromise.

The day after we moved in my son came home from school in tears and told me that the neighbour next door had told DS that he was just warning him that if any balls landed in his garden then the neighbour would burst them and not give them back. I thought maybe the neighbour had just been kidding around with DS and didn't really think anymore about it...because DS had been walking home from school when neighbour spoke to him so there wasn't even a football in sight to be concerned about.

Then a few days later the neighbour knocked on my door and demanded that I take down the stair gate that I had used to stop my son and the dog having access round the side of my house. There had originally been a pend between the two houses but a fence has been built down the middle of the pend to separate the two boundaries long before I moved in. So I had used a stairgate (designed for indoor use against a wallpapered wall) to block off the pend...the stairgate attached to my side of the wooden fence by those suction cups. When the neighbour appeared at my door and asked me to remove the gate because it would damage his fence I explained that it wasn't actually attached to the fence and was designed for indoor use so was unlikely to damage his fence. He refused to consider it and wouldn't leave until I removed the gate. Which I did because I hate confrontation and hadn't even lived there a week and didn't want a scene with the neighbours.

But in the light of the fence issue I began to believe that perhaps the man had not been kidding around with DS when he warned him over the footballs. So since then I have been really careful about DS playing in the garden with a football. When in the garden on his own DS practices keepie-ups or dribbling...if he has a friend round then they practice passes. As soon as there are more than two of them out playing I send them to the local park as more chance of ball going over the fence if there is a crowd.

However DS is only 9 and still mistimes the odd shot and the ball has on occasion landed over the fence. Perhaps around four times in the eighteen months we have lived here. The first couple of times I sent DS round to knock on the door and ask for the ball back as I thought that was better than allowing him to wander through garden and help himself. The next time it happened the man must have been watching out his window because he was out before DS got there and threw the ball over the fence without saying a word.

At christmas my ExH bought DS a set of goals and I knew as soon as I saw them that it would cause problems with the I stuck to the same rules as before and as soon as there are more than two children in my garden I send them to the park with the goals. (They are portable).
Well last night they were bringing the goals and footballs back into my garden and DS friend threw the football over my hedge rather than carry it back into my garden...of course the stupid ball landed in the man's garden and the next thing I heard was him shouting at my son to f**k off to the park! My DS came in crying because he knew that I would be furious about the ball going in the man's garden and also because the man tok his football into his house. I don't know what to do next. My first instinct was to go straight round and apologise for the ball going in the garden and tell him that I will dismantle the goals and stop any football in the garden. But then my son said, 'what is the point of having a garden that you can't play in?'.
And now I am not sure what I want to do.

My neighbours on the other side of me have children and sometimes their balls land in my garden. If I am in the garden I throw the ball back over with a smile...if I am not in the garden I have told them to feel free to just go through and collect the ball. I would hate to think that my neighbours children would be scared to ask me for a ball back.

My thinking now is to go and apologise to the man next door for the ball landing in his garden last night and to maybe explain to him my rules for football in the garden so that he could see that I do not allow my son to play with no thought to the neighbour's garden...and that actually it could be much worse if I was the sort to allow my son and his friends to all play out there with no thought to anybody else's feelings for hours on end.

What I need advice with is where the compromise could be made. Is it reasonable for me to refuse to allow my son to ever play with a ball in his own garden? Should the man be allowed to expect that a stray ball will never land in his garden?

Having grown up myself in a third floor flat and having lived until recently in a tenement flat with my DS I have no real experience of garden etiquette and what is fair to both parties so I would very much appreciate your input before I go talk to the man.


colnelcustard Tue 16-Jun-09 13:40:36

Don't you dare apologise to him. He is being a bully. I can't bear people like this - its like they have never been children themselves and have gone straight into oldmandom.

I hate confrontation too but you have done absolutely nothing wrong here. He has got no right to shout and swear at your child and your son is right. What is the point in having a garden that you can't play in.

I would go over there and first of all ask him not to shout and swear at your child and say to him that you have asked your child to be considerate when playing football which you feel that he has been up until now. Explain that your child goes down to the park to play but he has every right to also play in his back garden.

Ask the man that if he has any further problems that he should speak with you directly and not upset your child further.

If he shouts and swears at you. Buy a bloody huge bag of cheap balls and kick them one by one into his garden.

happywomble Tue 16-Jun-09 13:43:18

If this man swears at your son he doesn't sound that reasonable.

I have purchased a ball on elastic (attached to a base) for my DS from John Lewis. DS kicks the ball round in circles or can kick it to and fro to a friend without the worry of it hitting the windows of our house or going to another garden.

GrandadOnagar Tue 16-Jun-09 13:46:07

I agree that he is being a bully. The bit about not giving balls back would be acceptable if it happened a dozen times in the first week. A normal person might threaten that to make them more careful. But he started off with threats and was clearly never going to be a nice neighbour. He is well in the wrong.

I bet if you get to talk to other neighbours they will say "oh HIM. Everyone hates him etc etc"

Doodle2u Tue 16-Jun-09 13:46:18

Agree with Catchy - he's being totally unreasonable and his behaviour towards your child is dispicable.

Do NOT apologise.

bentneckwine1 Tue 16-Jun-09 13:49:42 you sound just like my friend when I told her what happened over the stairgate...she suggested that he wouldn't have dared knock on my door like that if I had a husband or partner living there who might have answered!!

happywomble...I am going away to google those balls - thank you for the suggestion.

I had hoped to go round with a box of chocolates and maybe catch the wife...I thought she might listen to what I said and could then talk to her husband. I would say that they are both in their late sixties so passed the stage of having children in their garden.

Last night I sat and sobbed for nearly an hour after my son went to bed...I hate anything like this with bad feeling.

GetOrfMoiLand Tue 16-Jun-09 13:51:40

No, any man who says **** to the park to a kid is completely unreasonable. He is a prat. It is normal to have a kick about with a ball in your garden.

For courtesy sake, I would buy cheap and cheerful blow up or foam footballs, as opposed to proper leather ones as they will do absolutely no damage to property if booted. And just be prepared that if a ball goes in the bloke's garden you will never see it again.

Don't let the miserable git spoil you having a garden smile

aristocat Tue 16-Jun-09 13:52:58

agree with the others - this man is a bully

he should not behave in this way and is very rude!

my DS is 7 and we play football in the garden all of the time, both neighbours just throw the ball back as i would do if the situation was reversed

please dont apologise to him, your neighbour needs to find his manners (as my DD says)

bentneckwine1 Tue 16-Jun-09 13:54:53

Thanks for your replies doodle and grandad...I think the neighbour has taken bad because the previous occupant was at least in her eighties and lived alone alone. So it must have been very quiet and peaceful. Then I move in with a DS and a dog!! Peace shattered - but I do think that I keep my DS on quite a tight reign in the garden...bring him in off the trampoline by eight in the evening etc.

Stayingsunnygirl Tue 16-Jun-09 13:59:46

It sounds like you are being a very considerate neighbour, bentneckwine - and this man most certainly isn't!! I second going round and asking him to talk to you rather than swearing at your child - and tell him that your son has every right to play in the garden, that you expect your son and his friends to behave with consideration, and that you'd like this man to try to do so too! Point out to him that actually his behaviour is far worse than your son's behaviour as his is on purpose and your son's is accidental - and that you expect him to behave better than a 9 year old, not worse!

Ewe Tue 16-Jun-09 14:00:07

What an arse!

I would definitely not apologise, I would be demanding he did, how dare he speak to a child like that.

Agree, get cheap balls that it doesn't matter too much about losing. If he wants to clutter his house up with cheap footballs then that is up to him.

Merrylegs Tue 16-Jun-09 14:01:33

OK - well it sounds like you have reached a compromise- when DS has more than one friend round they go to the park to play. That is a perfectly reasonable solution.

However, whatever you do will not be good enough for your neighbour who seems to be anticipating trouble from you.

SO you need to first tell him, politely, that he is never to swear at your child again.

Then explain to him that if there are more than 2 children in the garden, your son goes to the park and plays. But there will be times when your child will be playing in his own garden. It won't be all the time, and it's not constant, but it will be sometimes.

If the ball goes over the fence, you are sorry and he has every right to keep it.

However, if he continues to be offensive and unpleasant to you, you will review your 'no more than two children in the garden' rule and allow your child to have as many friends over as he likes and to play football in the garden and not to go to the park.

Then Mr Grumpy has a choice. He can allow himself to be wound up by your DS, complain, swear and then risk even more noise and upset in the garden, or he can suck it up and realize that compromise is the lesser of two evils.

Either way, it is his choice and his problem.

Do not apologise if he has sworn at your DC!

happywomble Tue 16-Jun-09 14:05:56


The thing I was referring to from John Lewis is on their online site and it is a reflex soccer swingball. It is good for a small garden!

They also have a baloopa and other things..

bentneckwine1 Tue 16-Jun-09 14:07:07

Thanks everybody for your replies...I am currently watching out my window to try and catch the man coming up his path...I was hoping that would be less confrontational than going and knocking on his door?!

Also I was furious about him swearing at my son last night but part of me was worried I was using the swearing as an excuse to be angry with him - rather than be realistic about my son's behaviour with the balls.
You have reassured me that I have taken approriate steps to ensure my son was not being too much of a nusience.

The whole garden/neighbours thing is all new to me and I am finding it a bit of a minefield to be truthful!! All these fences, boundaries, weeds encroaching into borders under fence - and now balls over fances. Who would have guessed the stressed involved in having a garde.

I will let you all know once I have spoken to him or his wife.

Thanks Again

bentneckwine1 Tue 16-Jun-09 14:15:02

Merrylegs - I am tempted to copy and paste your post and use it for a note through the man's door as it seems to say what I want to without be rude. However I am guessing it would be better to do this face to face - I just know that I will get tongue tied and forget what I was going to tell him. Either that or I will cry!

But thank you and everyone else.

racmac Tue 16-Jun-09 14:23:50

What a bully - we have a neighbour like this - but he doesnt have the excuse of being old.

He refused to throw any balls back - the other neighbours throw them back all the time - ds is 8 the gardens not massive and we do not cause a nuisance.

This particular neighbour kept all his balls over about a 5 month period - there was about 3 of them that he refused to hand back - we managed to get them out of his garden - he threatened to kill my husband and called the police!!

The police were fine and just said they had to deal with complaints but they would have a word with him and tell him to be a bit more reasonable.

I have full sympathy but the only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them - do not back down to him he will continue to do it and perhaps start finding other things to complain about.

bentneckwine1 Tue 16-Jun-09 14:35:03

racmac - I think you are right about standing up to him this taking down that blasted stairgate I probably set the tone for how things would be from that point.

If I don't spek to him about last night then I will spend the rest of the summer stressing everytime DS steps foot in the garden.

crokky Tue 16-Jun-09 14:41:20

bentneckwine1 - totally agree with the others - man is a horrible bully. This is our first proper garden as well and I got a slide/swings combo and we were reported to the council before it had even finished being erected! Also by elderly neighbours over the back fence. I did win the case with the council, it was never in any doubt (neighbour suggested to the council that I had broken planning laws shock).

No matter how much consideration you show these people, they will still bully you. We have been incredibly polite and respectful, never ever looked over their fence, take DCs inside if they get noisy etc...but nothing is ever enough for these people - they will always find something to moan about (don't mean all elderly people btw, just these sort of neighbours).

Beware of thinking the wife will be a better bet. In the case of the couple over our back fence, the wife is a total witch who orders the husband around permanently. She thinks up petty complaints for him to go and have words about (not just to me, to all the people around here - he has reported my other neigbours to the police so I got off lightly being reported to the council!!) - she is a whole lot worse than the bloke and she is too spineless to voice her nonsence herself - she forces her DH to do that.

My bullies have got their comeuppance actually - another male neighbour of mine saw me being abused in the street and (I did not know about this btw) stepped in - he told the old guy that he had seen him looking through our fence at our DCs and would report him as a pervert if he did not leave us alone!!!!! We wondered why the old couple had stopped pestering us and the bloke who said the above told us a few weeks after he had said it.

In your position, I would avoid ever being rude to your neighbours but I would be a bit firmer with them. The bloke is clearly a bully and you mustn't let him get away with it.

My neighbours DCs kick balls over our fence all the time. We throw them back, there is just no problem. Your neighbour is demented.

Morloth Tue 16-Jun-09 14:43:25

First thing, if you want the stairgate thing back up, then put it up and tell him to pull his head in if he comes round about it.

Secondly, I think every kid should have at least one grumpy neighbour who keeps the balls that go over the fence, it build's character! I still remember our crazy lady, but her dogs used to tear them to pieces.

Let the kid's play in the garden, tell your son to apologise politely to the neighbour if the ball goes onto his property. That's it really. The neighbour does have a right to not having your kid's stuff going into his property but it is going to happen.

Just be prepared to lose a bunch of balls.

He is going to be pissed off and grumpy no matter what you do, so you might as well please yourself and stop worrying about him.

welshdeb Tue 16-Jun-09 18:45:31

Try looking on theneighbours from hell site.

I thought that provided your son was not deliberately booting balls over the fence, then your neighbour damaging and / or refusing to return your ds property is theft.

Don't pander to him he is a bully and if you give in to this what will be next.. your son playing too loudly, objecting to friends etc.

bentneckwine1 Tue 16-Jun-09 20:04:24

Still waiting to speak to the has been gone all afternoon...but turning into a right curtain twitcher watching for them coming back!

Thanks to everybody for their responses.

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