Dear reader: As I noted in an earlier column, my daughter Lisi will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions. - Ellie
My neighbour’s wife is a whirling dervish. She’s loud, always yelling — at her husband, the kids, anyone in her vicinity. In my opinion, she’s unhinged and a negligent mom. They have three young children, all under 11.
Recently, I came home and went out to my yard to see my dog. I noticed her two youngest in their yard, playing with their dogs, while the gardener, a retired elderly man, was working nearby. Something felt off, so I casually asked where their mom was ... none of them knew! She had left her kids with the gardener and had gone out.
I brought the kids over to my place (our kids are friends), and let the gardener get on with it and then leave.
I called her but she didn’t answer, so I called her husband. He was appreciative, left work as early as possible and got his kids.
Later that night, I heard a lot of yelling and banging — loud enough to wake the neighbourhood, let alone the children in the house.
It’s obvious they have issues, which aren’t my business, but the safety and well-being of their kids IS my business — as a neighbour, friend, mom, and human being. I’m worried about their safety and mental health.
What can I do to help, but also stay out of her destructive path?
Neighbour with a conscience
You did the right thing. The most important factor here is the children’s safety. At this point, I would stay quiet. They know you know. She’s (hopefully) embarrassed and he’s grateful. If another incident occurs, you will have to speak up, for the children’s sake. For now, just keep a watchful eye but don’t intrude.
My granddaughter was obsessively begging my daughter for a puppy. My daughter and her husband both grew up with dogs, but when they first married and started their family, they lived in a very small house, on one small salary, while my son-in-law tried to find his footing. It wasn’t the right time to add a puppy to the mix.
Finally, my granddaughter showed them an ad on an online classified site for a mini-Bernedoodle that was impossible to resist. My daughter caved, went out and got the puppy. But they immediately knew something wasn’t right, and the vet confirmed that the puppy wasn’t as advertised, but a German Shepherd-Bernese mix!
Now they’re stuck with what will be a HUGE dog, just as my son-in-law is getting back on his feet post-COVID, and my daughter is working two jobs to cover them. The kids (there are two under age 10) are too small to walk the puppy on their own.
I’m out of the picture with hip replacement surgery booked in the next month. How can I help this sweet gesture turned disaster?
You’re kind to be involved and worried about your extended family. This is not an ideal situation. But I get it — once you see those puppy eyes, it’s hard to walk away, and this one came with a no-return policy. If affordable, get them a dog walker; or offer childcare after school, so the parents can walk the dog. Help teach the children how to feed, play and care for the pup so they can do their best.
Readers’ Commentary Regarding Mean Girls:
“Mean girls still exist, no matter how old you are. I’m in my early 40s with two kids at a small neighbourhood school. Pre-COVID, I volunteered often at school. One mom always offered her help, but when scheduled for activities or volunteering, she wouldn’t show up, leaving us high and dry.
“One day, I asked her why she did that, and she replied that she’s just too busy! But we all know she’s a stay-at-home mom who teaches Pilates twice weekly, once on the weekend.
“We’ve never been friends outside of the schoolyard, so I’ve learned to simply not include her when looking for volunteers.
“Just recently, we bumped into each other while out walking. She asked if I’d started playing tennis outdoors. I said I had and she sneered that she really wanted to but had no time.
“At that moment, another school mom walked by, and called out to this woman — see you this afternoon at tennis!”
Lisi - I don’t know whether to laugh or hug you! Obviously, this woman is not a nice person. She doesn’t like you for some reason — who knows why and who cares — and puts energy into purposefully annoying you. But you win, because you don’t care. You know you’re not friends, you know she’s not dependable, and you carry on. Keep it up!