My family and I have been living in a duplex for close to a year now. It wasn’t perfect when we first saw it, but it was big, had a good school nearby, was reasonably priced and easy to move in. No, it wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t prepared for what was to follow after moving in.
First of all, I was away when our move in date came, so my husband moved in and took pictures of all the previous damage left behind. The amount of dead roaches was innumerable. They were in kitchen draws, on floors, under the stove and refrigerator…anywhere you could think of. Of course, there was no walk through, so pictures had to suffice. He cleaned like crazy. Grease from floor to ceiling in the kitchen…it was disgusting. But, honestly, I had lived in worse places in college. But I have kids now, so we were determined to make this place as presentable as possible.
I can handle roaches, broken faucets and peeling tiles. We sprayed and hired an exterminator. My husband can fix or build anything, so small repairs were not an issue. We installed a couple of new ceiling fans, repaired door jams that were broken upon move in. I painted a room or two. It was mostly tile, so a few throw rugs here and there were fine. The bedrooms carpets left a lot to be desired. Even though I was informed they were professionally cleaned, the stains were clearly visible and the smell was distinct….pet urine. We scrubbed them to no avail. The peel and stick tiles throughout the living room were peeling up and breaking apart. They were stained and black….a magic eraser couldn’t even get the shit off.
But, you get what you pay for.
All of the cosmetic problems aside….I had no idea what we were getting into with the neighbors. There are four duplexes for a total of eight units. All of them were rented when we moved in. Jake is eight and there were plenty of kids his age here to play with. Big mistake. These kids were rotten….and I mean future orange jumpsuit wearing rotten. Jake is the first one to tell me if some kid acting like an ass. After a few incidents of bulling, other kids smoking and swearing and the usual bullshit, I decided that these were not the calibre of children I was comfortable letting my son play with. One kid used to come over everyday….even school nights…and stay all day, eat dinner and my husband ended up walking him home at 9:00 PM. I never even met his parents and they never came looking for him. I felt bad for him. Until the day he shot Jake and another kid with a BB gun. Then I called the police.
There were multiple calls to the police. These kids were always left unsupervised. No parent was ever around to keep tabs, make sure they were safe, or make sure they were fed for that matter. I was the only parent outside yelling at all these kids when they were all acting like assholes. I quickly became know as “the bitch”. I told a fifth grader who had been bulling Jake that the day I moved in was the worst day of his life. He didn’t answer. All the kids that Jake used to play with now wanted to beat him up. But, here’s where they underestimated Jake. He has had close to six years of karate. The kids were fair at first. Jake would come in and tell me that so-and-so tried to hit him and he punched them in the face and gave them a roundhouse kick. I have always told Jake not to be a bully and stick up for smaller kids….don’t hit other kids, but defend yourself if you need to. Well, he did.
Soon, he had beat every kid in this wretched neighborhood, no matter what size they were. That’s when they decided to gang up on him. They couldn’t beat him one on one, so they resorted to fighting dirty. I watched out of the window everyday when he played with one of the two good kids in the neighborhood (they were not allowed to play with the Manson Children either). Jake was great…never afraid….I stepped in lots of times. I saw the fifth grader pouring gasoline into a soda can one day. I took a picture with my phone….I am all about getting the evidence. Ted, my husband, went to tell his mother, as no matter how bad a kid is, it is always because of an underlying problem in the home and really not completely their fault. The mother quickly called her son on his cell and he denied it, so she said…”he said he wasn’t doing it.” Ok. Ted just said that when he ends up in the hospital with second and third degree burns that he had warned her. Thankfully, he never did do anything stupid.
They wrote “Fuck your mother” on my sidewalk outside my door. They told every chance they could that I was mean and a bitch. Jake just told them to shut up unless they were in his face…then he punched them. It took months, but these rotten kids finally realized that I was not going to stop watching their actions and that Jake was not a kid to fuck with….so they finally stopped.
That’s when the new neighbors moved in. Two domestic calls to the police later…not even by me…and I told Ted I had enough. We are preparing to move as I type.
Here’s what makes me so angry: These kids have no one to look up to. The parents are not around. If they are, most are usually drunk or just inside the house not giving a shit what their kids are doing. I have always believed that everything begins in the home. So, it was inevitable that these kids are the way they are. If you do not teach your kids values and morals early…this is what you get. I see a future of saddness and prison for most of them. I don’t care what they think of me…or the parents for that matter, but throughout all of this nonesense, I did try to talk to some of them and tell them to be kind and to be friends with everyone. It was to no avail, but I felt obligated to do something that they were not getting from their parents.
Once, Ted went outside and played football with all of these kids. They were happy, friendly, nice….not the little pricks that picked on my son. They were getting what they craved so desparately….attention.
It is amazing what happens when parents just pay attention to their children.