Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dilemma

Hello, lovely people. I realize I am months behind on this blog. I have so much to tell you about, like how I achieved my New York dream of meeting Tim Gunn this past Friday. But today, I am perplexed and I need your advice and moral support. You know how much of a people-pleaser I am and how I avoid confrontation like the plague. Then, listen as I share my current tale of woe:

Last Saturday morning, at around 8:45, there was a knock on the door. I opened it to find a bedraggled 20-something on my doorstep. Without introduction or salutation of any kind, she proceeded to say, "I have not had a good night's sleep for over a week because of your kids. You have A LOT of kids, right? I just moved in and I really need sleep!"

To which I calmly replied: "My children were in bed until 8 AM this morning." I knew this for a fact because I went running and was surprised that no one was up and about when I returned at 8.

"Well, yeah, but it's the weekend? (She said this as if I was 3 years old and I desperately wanted to quote Grand Dame Maggie Smith and say, "What is a week-end?") So yeah, I really need to sleep in."

By this time, I was so put out by the manner in which she had patronized me that I said, nicely, "Well, good luck, good-bye," and shut the door.

I was so angry after that confrontation. I stewed about it for hours. Everyone told me to let it go. It really bothered me that she said she hadn't slept in a week. My kids are in bed from 9 at night until 7:30 in the morning, so when exactly is she trying to sleep? It bothered me that she insinuated that I was a crazy cat lady with kids instead of cats, as if I had 14 of them wandering about. The drama queen act was not going to work on me, sorry. Plus, the lovely couple (with two small children) who lived under us before her had never complained once.

So, imagine my dismay when there was pounding on my door at 8:15 this morning as we were trying to rush to leave for church. I answered the door to the same girl, and she was not happy. "I was awakened again this morning and I want you to know, I was wearing earplugs that block up to 30 decibels of sound," at which point she held up the earplugs for me to see, probably in case I didn't know what an earplug was since I spent my life making babies instead of going to school.

I said, "We are leaving in 15 minutes and then you can sleep until 12:30." But that wasn't the right answer. She continued, "I was in the hospital and I need sleep! You need to understand that you live over someone!" I then decided to calmly ask the question that had been plaguing me all week: "I'm curious, what time do you wake up in the morning when it's not the weekend?"

"7:30, because I go to work at 9. But your kids woke me up BEFORE 7:30 some days (probably like 7:15.) You just really need to know!"

I didn't know what else to say, so I just said, "OK" and shut the door as she stormed off.

Ben has said the following on the subject:

"If she stays up all night, that's not our problem."
"Tell her that firetrucks wake me up all night long and I'm mad about that, too! You live in New York, deal with it."
"She's the one who decided to move into an apartment under four children. Deal with it."

Part of me is annoyed and wonders why I should cater to someone who is clearly from the lovely rising generation of entitled kids who say, Me, ME, ME!!! She needs to learn that other people exist on the planet, right? If people are being quiet between the hours of 10 and 7, shouldn't they then have a right to walk around in their living room without fear of reproach?

But then another part of me, probably the Molly Mormon part, thinks I should do what I can to appease this girl, be a good neighbor. Do I need to buy foam and cover that with rugs? I know friends who have done that in New York, just to make the complaints stop. But we have A LOT of children, and money is tight. Covering our whole floor in rugs would be a bit pricy.

OR, I could handcuff my children in their beds until noon on the weekend and then drug them so they never dance or jump or run during the waking hours, because that's reasonable.* Is that what she wants me to do? Why does she keep coming up here?

Two things I am going to try to do are talk to my super and talk to the family who used to live beneath us. My super is the most lovely man you have ever met and he loves the twins. I just want to ask him if we are out of line making noise after 7 AM and what he would advise. The previous family moved to a 3 bedroom apartment in our same building and I just want to ask them to give me a brutally honest answer about the noise level. We have people over us ourselves, and I hear footsteps from time to time, but it's very quiet.

What do you think? I'm asking for gems of advice from your collective wisdom. Maybe the answer is that she needs therapy to work out her incredible anger issues toward small children. I just need to know if that's what I should say Ben should say to her next time I hear the pounding on the door.

*I must apologize for all the snark. I've been reading Bossypants and Tina is in my head, bless her.

16 comments:

Jenni said...

Ok, first of all, you are way too nice to this girl. What a little brat! Because I'm not as nice as you I would have politely told her to move if she doesn't like the current situation. You are in an apartment complex...hearing your neighbors is the name of the game. You should let her know that this is how it is, this is how it's been(before she moved in) and this is how it's gonna be. THat's life...suck it up and deal.
Love, your not-as-nice sis-in-law =)

ellen said...

I have lived in 5 two-family apartments in the Boston area and now live in a condo building with 70 apartments. I lived under kids in all of those two-family homes and never once complained about the noise even though I have been woken up in the middle of the night and early in the morning. IT IS PART OF APARTMENT LIVING--she needs to deal with it or move to a quiet island. I would stop answering the door. :)

Amelia Merritt said...

Today we had a gentleman tell two stories that had the congregation in tears. We ended up talking about nothing else the entire hour during Sunday School we were all so moved. One happened to someone he knew and the other was a story from the New York Times, I believe. These stories were some of the best I have ever heard and they dealt with this very SAME thing. Since they are super long, I won't leave them in your comment section, but I decided I maybe should share them on my blog. That way if anyone wants to read them they can and if not, they don't have to. I will say this, that I'll never forget them and I will forever try and live my life in the example of the people in these two stories.

Bek said...

She needs to grow up.. But it never hurts to be kind and succinct indealing with her. Nothing makes an Agni person more angry than when you don't rise to the anger and allow them to have a partner in meanness. We used to live in a building that had been for over 60's and no kids allowed. It was later opened to families. The old people hated us. The good part was that we bugged them way worse than they bugged us. So you win!! you are keeping reasonable hours. She is keeping single person hours. Welcome to NY. I'd just be kind in your interactions and do your best to respect all your neighbors and ignore it. what else can you really do?

Betina said...

People with no children don't understand people who have children. And vice versa, I believe. I think it is just a part of apartment living. I can't even imagine trying to keep my kids quiet, and I can't believe yours sleep until seven AM!!!! Just tell her she's lucky that Oakely doesn't live there. 5am. Every morning.

I'll bet she has a blog. I wonder what her comments on the matter are. Families like ours are likely provide tons of witty material for trendy twenty-somethings going to school in NYC.

Sigh.

Maybe you should bake her a cake.

erin said...

I hate confrontation too! If it's quiet between 10 and 7, she needs to just deal with it.

You, well Ben, could do what Jake did to the kids that were doorbell ditching and urinating/leaving poo on our porch. When she comes knocking, scream really REALLY loud at her to leave you alone. This is life after all. She should just get over it. Then chase her down the street... or I should say hallway. We haven't heard from the little buggers since so I think it works :)

Lisa said...

We all know you are right and she is selfish. We all know that I WANT TO TELL HER HOW I FEEL (I have the speech ready, just in case). We all know that you don't want confrontation. So, this is what I'd do if I were you:

I would write a quick note --nothing big, that basically says something like "I'm sorry we had to meet under these conditions. I'm sorry you were in the hospital. I am doing my very best to be respectful of you and those around us. My kids are on a schedule and it's unfortunate that ours do not perfectly align, and we will increase our efforts to help you get the rest you need." and attach it with some treats and sign all your names at the bottom.

and leave it at that. She's not interested in learning what difficulties life has for YOU, or how to be a good neighbor. Show her how it's done, lady! (that's the snarky part of me--I read Bossypants, too you know!)

The McKay's said...

First off, stop feeling bad. This girl is only thinking of herself. You guys live in an apartment complex and it is INEVITABLE that everyone is going to hear everyone. It's just part of living in an apartment complex. Especially in big cities. About a year ago, we had a CRAZY neighbor claim all sorts of things about the noise levels, TV sound, etc. I sometimes think people just don't know how to live with one another and be courteous.

I think writing a little note is nice, but don't cave too much and tell her all the things you're going to do because then she'll think she can continue to complain to you. She cannot get the idea that if she barks to you, that you will react. Does that make sense? I would just apologize for the circumstances, wish her well (b/c of the hospital stay) and just politely remind her that your children sleep between 10 pm-7:30 am which should give her loads of time to sleep. Something like that.

Do you have a peep hole? Next time she knocks, I just wouldn't answer :)

Good luck!

XO
Erin

Hailey said...

Thanks, guys. I really like the note/treat idea. I've felt powerless because I can't change the circumstances: i.e., my kids sleep schedules and the fact that they are real, live children. But I CAN always control my attitude and reactions.

You are all awesome and good to put up with my tantrums.

Sharon said...

wait wait wait. Bake her a cake? Only if it has bitch in pink frosting. i can help! swear words and cake make everything better.

Kristen said...

This exact thing happened to my friend who lived in an apartment with an amazing view overlooking the ocean. She has 4 kids and her downstairs neighbor was a crusty old military guy who would routinely complain that he can't sleep because her kids were so loud.

She apologized over and over (she is sweet like you) and even baked him cupcakes and yada yada. Never worked. He was still a thorn in their side and always had complaints even though she had rearranged her life and mothering around his demands; she was always correcting her kids to walk and not run or speak quietly in the house. (Like trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip.)

Anyway, she finally got sick of feeling like a hostage in her own home that they decided to move on base where they could have a yard. Don't let her run you out of your own home. Even though I know you can't move, but I mean mentally. Don't let her change they way you mother your children. As long as you are respectful and courteous in keeping the sound ordinance hours, then she can get over it.

And she will have no choice but to get over it or move. I do feel for her, because I too get bent out of shape when other people invade my sonic space, but if you are living in an apartment, then that's the way it goes. I agree with whoever said not to rise to her anger because it will just strengthen and fortify her anger towards your family. Fight the urge to say anything she can use as ammunition to hate you, even though it would be nice to tell her to make more money and buy a penthouse if she doesn't like it.

If she keeps doing it, you may want a third party like your super to tell her to stop harassing you.

Hannah S said...

I agree with Lisa's comment. Bake something wonderful. Hope she wasn't in the hospital for allergies or anorexia or something so that she'll appreciate it. Add a cute little saying that I cannot think of right now, or maybe a quote from Shakespeare to make her think you are a diva too.

Gosh, that's hard though. When we lived in an apartment, above one of my best friends now, they both suffered from depression and her husband had anxiety and was up till all hours of the night. When Tyler and I were on our P90x kick, we would exercise in our bedroom....which meant lots of jumping. My friend would call and kindly ask that we wait to work out. It was 9 am !!! That was awkward and we decided to work out at another time...which made it very inconvenient for us. I agree about not changing your lifestyle but perhaps ask the kids to have quieter feet in the morning. But I think anything past 8:30 is reasonable. Sheesh.

Beeswax said...

All I know is that I'm so stressed out by your story that I probably won't sleep tonight. It also reminded me that Heckles, Monica and Rachel's cranky downstairs neighbor who poked the ceiling with his broom, died and left all his junk to them. You don't want that to happen.

I think befriending her before she dies is the best course of action.

bananatron said...

Hi,
I liked your idea of speaking to the previous people and the super. If the super agrees that your schedule is reasonable, let him deal with downstairs. He's the super. Was she in the hospital because of illness, or is she working there? That might explain some of her sleep schedule.
Beth

Morgan said...

ugh. don't even get me started on this subject. i have had my downstairs neighbors come up once, and she was very nice, but that alone made me super anxious. but my friend emilee in my building who also has 3 boys had horrible downstairs neighbors with no kids and they complained SO much and one time she was home alone with the boys and he seriously started banging on the door and screaming at her from the hallway and she was really scared and so were the boys. they told security after that and they never had any problems again :) but honestly people, you live in nyc, you live in an apartment, what do you expect? there is no way that you can tell your kids not to be kids. kids run and jump and yell. they have to be able to do these things in their home. as long as you are abiding by some quiet time hours (10 or 11- 7 or 8 am) then they have no grounds for complaining. you can't tip toe around your apt. that is ridiculous. i do try to tell my boys not to jump or bang things on the floor, but only when i can tell that it is really obnoxious. i think it's fine and good to teach them common courtesy, but again, you can't revolve your life around what your neighbor wants. if it's that much of a problem, then she will have to move. it's her choice. i think it's a good idea to tell your super and just let him know you are aware and will do what you can but can't make any promises. that way if she makes a formal complaint, they will know that she is being unreasonable and that you are not bad people. anyway... good luck! :)

Mom n Pop Wilson said...

What a dilemma! I'm curious about the rest of the story.

Loved spending time with your Mom last week!