27 March 2009

The Ubiquitous Curtis

We have a small 10-year-old neighbour who I like to call "The Ubiquitous Curtis."

Well, I call him 'small' but he isn't. He really isn't.

I also call him 'ubiquitous' but that word means he can be in many places at once, and the bothersome aspect of him isn't that he's in MANY places at once, it's that he's at OUR PLACE ALL TOO OFTEN.

So I'm calling him the wrong thing right from the start, but it's hard to change a habit, so "The Ubiquitous Curtis" he remains.

I've sighed, let him in and entertained him for much longer than manageable so many times over the last few months. And now my patience is growing thin.

He always appears at the tricky time of day: a few hours before dinner.

If I am cooking dinner, I do NOT want help, nor do I want a portly 10-year-old cluttering my little kitchen with a constant stream of words issuing from his mouth.

If I am taking a quick nap, I do NOT want the doorbell to ring, the door to be knocked on, my name to be called at the windows, Sonny's name to be called at the windows, the doorbell to ring, Smoochy's name to be called at the windows, and the door to be knocked on. And then my name to be called again. (He can't take a hint.)

If I am playing with the kids, -sigh- okay, how about I let him join us and stay so long that I don't actually fold the washing and start dinner at the times I was planning to do those things.

And sometimes, we are returning home from somewhere in the car at that time of day. As I round the second last corner, I see his portly form pelting faster than I've ever seen a portly 10-year-old kid run, all the way from outside his house to ours, ending up on our driveway about the same time as us, shouting at us the whole way.

I think it's the over-keenness that is making me sigh.

Now, my current dilemma is "What does the Christian Woman do in this situation?" Does she establish and maintain firm but respectful boundaries?

Hah. Hardly!

She allows herself to go on being used as a doormat until she finally snaps after hearing her two-year-old girl being disciplined by The Ubiquitous Curtis (!) and hearing her four-year-old boy cry because The Ubiquitous Curtis has thrown a favourite teddy Azwell across the room (!) and then upon seeing her husband move to answer the door when the doorbell is being rung to herald a SECOND visit in the same afternoon, hisses threateningly that he dares not let The Ubiquitous Curtis in, or she will (and I think these were the very words used) "rip his head off."

Which doesn't earn one any free tickets to heaven, I don't think.

Politely answering that "it's not a good time" tends to result in cheeky questions regarding what activity could POSSIBLY amuse my family MORE than the delightful presence of The Ubiquitous One, and that tends to make head-ripping fantasies grow more realistic in my mind.

Avoidance was the strategy I'd decided to use one day recently. There had been ringing, knocking, ringing, knocking, calling, calling, calling, knocking and ringing. And I kept quiet. I was feeling very pregnant & fragile that day and was slightly worried that the head-ripping was more of a possibility that afternoon than ever before.

I kept the worst of my un-Biblical thoughts to myself and told the children that it wasn't a good time to entertain The Ubiquitous One, and we chatted further about this as we drove out to the shops later that afternoon.

"You see," I confessed, "Curtis is getting a leetle bit ... annoying. He comes over at difficult times and when I tell him it's not convenient, he gets a bit cheeky. I'm getting very tired in the afternoons and it's getting more and more tricky for me to be sure of him because he wanders all around our house when I'm not watching him. And last time he tried to boss Smoochy around and he made Sonny cry when he threw Azwell across the room."

There was a pause from the back seat, then Sonny said in an understanding sort of voice, "Yeah, I know. Let's kill 'im."


Hippomanic Jen said...

Is it wicked of me to suggest that you're moving shortly? He, he, he.

Umm... Hopefully the Ubiquitous Curtis isn't highlighted in any of the pre-purchase inspections and checks.

Ahh.. do you know if your purchasers read your blog?

Long dark hair, blue eyes said...

that does sound very annoying. would I be wrong to guess he is an only child?

Swift Jan said...

I am in histerics at Sonny's suggestion!!!!! LMAO I love Sonny!!

ANd yes, I think you should add the avoidance of "The Ubiquitous Curtis" to your list as a good thing about moving to Toowoomba!

dee from downunder said...

I wonder what it is he needs? not to get too serious, it seems odd he is visiting you when you have no children his age. Where's his parents? Do you know them well? I would go mad with a neigbours kid visiting like this, don't get me wrong! You have done well to last so long. Add it to the list in your sidebar!
Reminds me of that song by Sally Boyden (age showing)"I'm gonna knock on your door, ring on your bell, tap on your window too, if you dont come out tonight when the moon is right, I'm gonna knock and ring and tap until you do..."

musing said...

I sympathize! When we lived on a farm for a few years we had an ubiquitous neighbor girl.

Her hanging around our house did come in handy one time, though, when she spotted the cows had gotten loose.

Heather said...

I'm with Dee - perhaps a word to his parents about how, with your impending move and impending baby and the fact that Sonny and Smoochy aren't *really* at an age to be *appropriate* playmates for TUC, it would be a lot better if he didn't just pop in ALL THE FREAKING TIME? (Whoops, perhaps you might want to reword that very last bit there...) It may be that his parents don't realize that he is quite as intrusive, rather than that they just don't care.

In a worst case scenario, I'd just set TUC down for a chat, in which you explain gently but firmly that you're very sorry, but that if he is going to come over in the future, it needs to be ONLY when he is INVITED to do so. Though breaking the heart of what sounds like a very lonely 10 year old might be a rather difficult thing to do.

A third thought: perhaps a few well-placed comments about a bedbug or lice infestation (or other such nasty, contagious, uncomfortable thing) to his parents might keep him clear long enough for the habit to wear off? }:-)

Ugh, I do not envy you this situation at all. My mom would've just been mean and sternly tell him his behavior (the popping in) is inappropriate and after a good scolding, would send him on his way quite decisively. I've never had that level of brass balls or stone heart, myself. :(

Sassy Britches said...

Yes, best bet when cheekiness gets in the way of logic, is...avoidance. Too bad in your pregnany condition you can't do the stop-drop-and-army-crawl thing that I do when people turn up unexpectedly.

Sonny is channeling your thoughts; I LOVE it!

Jen said...

I guess that is one way to get rid of him but probably not the best. I have no idea what to do in this situation b/c you see I was the annoying neighbor girl growing up.

My Year Without said...

I have an idea for you regarding your U- Curtis. He may be too old for this, but he obviously doesn't "get it" so maybe this tactic would work just fine. I had to do this when I lived next door to 6 little kids who were always ringing my doorbell and/or knocking. They also kept track of when I was home or not.

So, my mother gave me some genius advice and it worked like a charm. I had this little metal sculpture of a spider hanging on a string. I told all of the kids that when I put the spider up in my kitchen window, it is the OKAY TIME to come over, knock, ring the bell, whatever. BUT, if the spider was NOT hanging up in the window, I was busy and would not like to be disturbed.

It worked and maybe your neighbor needs a little structure like this....

Hope this helps!

stefanie said...

Since you got sympathy and great advice from kinder and smarter friends, I am taking this opportunity to have a good laugh. Sonny is really funny. So are you.

Cazbam said...

haha Sonny's suggestion sounds perfect! lol, that's classic. :)

Crazy Sister said...

That last line is priceless.

Curtis must miss you...