What would you do? A rant and a parenting/neighbour relations discussion

I am absolutely fuming. Rather than do anything rash I pose the question "What would you do?"

Here's the story: Noodle has tutoring this evening so when a couple of neighbourhood boys came to ask if anyone was up for a game of soccer in our garden Noodle told them he couldn't play. They asked whether Little Guy might be up for it and of course he was. About twenty minutes later we got back from dropping Noodle off. We stopped the car at the neighbour's gate to let them know we were back.

Within half an hour the game seemed to be over and they had all gone home. Little Guy told me he was packing up but couldn't find Noodle's soccer ball. The front neighbour boy has a reputation for hiding the ball so we went over to ask him where he had put it. He took us on a long wild goose chase around the block where he eventually revealed that 'someone' had thrown the ball down a storm drain. It wasn't clear whether it was him or one of the other boys who had been here.

I squeezed through the fence (it's an abandoned lot not far from our place) and looked down the drain myself - ripping my t shirt in the process - the ball is not even visible - assumed lost.

As I said I am livid since it's Noodle's ball that he was given as a reward for something outstanding last year. He worked very hard for that ball. It was a beautiful leather soccer ball. It's been carefully put away every night inside the house. I don't want to say I am mad over only a ball, but I am.

More than that I am mad because it seems to be a case of these boys coming over and deliberately disrespecting another person's property. That's not on. I also feel it's not the first time these boys have come to our house and broken something on purpose.

Now, my question is should we speak to these kids' parents? And risk causing a huge scene or discord among the neighbours? My gut tells me not to make a fuss, it is only a ball after all. But still, I feel this is exactly the kind of bad behaviour that escalates. What do you think?

Of course I didn't see what happened. It's Little Guy's word against theirs. I really believe that he had nothing to do with it but he's also somewhat in the dog house for not letting me know the boys were talking about putting the ball in the drain.

I feel a little calmer just having gotten this off my chest. It's probably best not to do anything. Don't you think? I can tell you one thing for sure. Those boys are banned from my place.

**Update: Mr. Mee a Bee was pretty mad too. In the end we decided that we would not say anything to the parents unless a similar thing happens again. Noodle was upset but not as much as we thought he'd be. He said he'd ask the boys about it. We will go look in the drain again with a flashlight to see if we can retrieve the ball although I doubt we'll be able to get it. 

The boys in question are a year younger than Noodle and not among his close friends. To be honest they really only come here when they have nothing better to do. 

On reflection I can see that it could easily be one of my kids doing something to make a parent angry (or even me for speaking sternly to the kid!).

I appreciate your words of advice so much! I am glad we did not rush out and make a big deal without the benefit of some breathing space. THANK YOU!!


  1. I would go and talk to the parents, ask them if they can ask their boys where 'very-special-with-sentimental-value' (laid on thick) ball is as noodle is very upset about it. And add that if it was any old ball you wouldn't be bothering them but because it is a special one you would like to find it.

    either that or I would collar the little s**t that had taken it, get him in a quiet corner and threaten to do the same to his balls if it isn't returned by the end of the day... but then i am just evil hahaha.

  2. Hard call. If you do decide to talk to them i would approach it from the "our expensive ball is missing since the boys played the other day and we are if your kids have any information that would help" aspect

    Is leaving it going to fester in your belly and spoil your relationship anyway?

    Happy to talk anytime if you wish

  3. I'm with jojoebi - ask the parents if they can ask their boys. It lets the kids know that you are on their case and not going to just let it pass ( even though you know said ball is sadly lost) without upsetting their parents as you are not acusing anyone directly.

    I get your annoyance - it's not the cost but the principle - as a parent I'd hope my kid was pulled up for disrespecting others property and I have spoken to another mother about her child with good results - although I witnessed him doing destructive act so that was easier.

  4. If talking to the boys seems to be going nowhere then I would suggest approaching the parents. A Japanese family would say something - or have a teacher say something - so I think it is an expected part of the culture.
    If you no longer let hte kids play in your yard (whether you are home or not) the parents will know something is up so I think it is better to be up front and honest about it.
    If my kid had taken someone else's ball and lost it I would want to know about it. It wouldn't be fun to hear such a thing but it is still good to know.

  5. Another thing that you might need to consider is that if you ban the boys from coming over, that might be a double-whammy to Noodle (if he wants them there) - they lose his ball while he's not able to join in the play-time, AND he loses out on future play times together...
    Power to you, it's a tough one! Everyone's advice sounds good to me!!

  6. Hi, from a long time lurker. It might be better to ask your older son what he wants you to do, since he has to go to school with the kids, and from now on make it a rule that no one can play in your yard when you aren't home. Depending on the Japanese parent, I have had problems before with this kind of situation. (once I yelled at another kid outside who was bullying my kid, and the parent came and spoke quite sternly to me that we don't discipline other people's kids in Japan, but that we let the kids work the problem out by themselves. I was not impressed with this, but then realized that I was the only one yelling at other people's kids when they were playing. Japanese mother's will yell at their own kids, but not the group.) In the end, it probably won't get you the ball back, and since they are close neighbors, it may not be worth the hastle. (unless their is a history of friendship between the you and the other mothers. ) I know that it isn't fair... Nancy Tsurumaki

  7. Sounds exactly like our neighbours. I have banned my son from playing with them.

  8. Boys will be boys at the end of the day, they were probably all involved thinking it was a real laugh and "only a ball" factor comes into it, maybe buy another ball and be done with it.

  9. Hey Jackie, we have cousins who are a bit destructive and it sort of leaves us in a quandary sometimes. I find it most effective to lay down the law when they are here. Our house, our rules. There's nothing wrong with being a bossy boots when they are at your place. We are pretty strict with enforcing breaches of the rules and it works quite well. Also, get your big boy another good ball but also get a cheapie. They don't get to play with the good stuff until they can show they respect other peoples treasures.

  10. thanks Vanessa! good advice put into action today already!!


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