My First Open Letter

Dear Neighbor People,

When M and I met you and realized you were moving into the house only two doors down from us, we were excited.  You seemed like pretty nice people who might even end up as our friends.  You and your kids quickly doted on PJ, and we had visions of you baby-sitting him from time to time so we could finally get out alone.  So far that has only happened when it was an absolute necessity–when I was in the hospital when BabyN was born–but I suspect that if we’d asked, you would have been willing to baby-sit more often than that.

I considered your family our closest friends in this end of town.  But then you go and do something like you did the other night.

In case you were wondering, it is NOT cool to make fun of our dog.  I’m sorry she reacted badly to your little mutt (whom we’ve heard you curse at yourselves).  It bothers me that she acted aggressively towards the dog, but in her defense, I think she was trying to play and it just came across wrong.  Regardless of her behavior, though, that does not give you permission to start making up nicknames for her that all imply she is mean.  We do not have to warn people that she is mean because she is not–just to your dog.

What makes all of this worse is that it’s not your precocious and thoughtless girl who started this merciless teasing, as I would expect.  It was you, Mr. Mature Dad.  You’ve met the puppy before and know that she is one of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever meet.  You even commented on it at the time.  You know her behavior the other day was out of character for her.  Making fun of her so that you’ll look cool in front of your kids and their friends is not an appropriate response.  We were humiliated enough by her behavior; you didn’t have to make it worse.

You and your whole family wear your Christianity on your sleeve, as though this is what people should know about you first.  As a Christian myself, I agree it’s good not to be ashamed of that, but your attitude about your faith is an assumption that everyone agrees with your views, always stated in such a matter-of-fact, yet condescending, tone.  I’m aware that Christians make mistakes too, but because of the way you usually behave around us, it makes it harder to believe that YOU can.  That’s why your behavior the other night was so shocking; it reeked of hypocrisy.  It’s something I would never expect from such strong Christians.

And I don’t think you realized you did anything wrong, that you hurt our whole family by your words.

Sincerely,

Your Weaker Christian Neighbor

PS. Really?  You really think tagging your dog is going to send him–or your family–to Hell?  And you’re going to judge us that our dog is tagged (regardless of whether she was when we got her)?

PPS. We’ve had our puppy all of three weeks (-ish).  Do you really expect us to have her perfectly trained in that time?  You’ve had your daughter for ten years and haven’t managed that much.  (Ooh…was that petty?  Sorry…kind of.)

8 Responses to My First Open Letter

  1. Ashley says:

    Did you ever think maybe you and M are extremely over-sensitive?? It’s a tiny little observational comment about the way your dog was acting….not a big deal. Maybe that’s why you haven’t become friends with these people…..you can’t take offense at every little thing. RELAX. Plus, attacking their faith because of a comment they made about your dog that was surely not meant in an offensive way is petty and judgemental if you ask me.

  2. Kayce says:

    Okay, the comment about their faith was probably a low blow. The way they typically act leads me to expect certain behavior from them, however, and this did not fit those expectations.

    And here’s a basic rundown of what he said (leaving out the dog’s name) so that you can get a better understanding of what the intent behind it was:

    “Your dog sure is mean! She needs some sort of nickname, something that tells everyone what kind of dog she really is. How about _________?” Then he laughs. “That’s it, __________. That’ll tell everyone to stay away from her. So, how come you guys got a mean dog? I can’t believe you’d have her around your kids. Why haven’t you worked on teaching her not to act like that?” Then to the dog, “Don’t come back now, ____________.”

    It was harsh, calling into question both our parenting skills and puppy parenting skills. It was mean-spirited and humiliating to both M and me, as if her behavior alone wasn’t enough to do that. You wouldn’t treat someone’s kid like that, so why their dog?

    I won’t deny being oversensitive much of the time, but I doubt many of you could walk away from that experience without having your feelings hurt at least a little.

  3. MrsSSG says:

    He had to go on and on like that? Ya know, make a joke once and it is funny, but keep reiterating the joke in many different sentences as well as saying something about your judgement to the dog being around your kids…..it was cruel of him and you should just march over there and say “hey I didn’t appreciate what you said last night” I would.

  4. Erin says:

    I don’t blame you either. I would be VERY upset as well, however, I am not as good as some at confronting people when they make me upset unless it is immediately and I would stew about it and hold a grudge. Is that healthy? No. But that is the way I am and I would feel just as upset as you. Plus, those people who preach their religion like they are better then act in such a way is very hypocritical.

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