Spring air, open windows, birds chirping, flowers blooming, bees buzzing, and children at play in their yards after a long cold winter. While that image would portray happy times for many, not so for one angry neighbor that decided he'd enough of hearing a child laugh. In fact, he warned, if the parents didn't stop the child, he was going to call the police and report the child for laughing too much. The Arizona father of the boy was outraged when he found the letter stuffed in his mailbox, claiming that his preschool child should be allowed outside just fifteen minutes a day.
"Every day this week, when weather has been nice and windows are open, you proceed to let your small child run free in your backyard and laugh and giggle and carry on without end. This is very disruptive for my two dogs and my bird who sits next to the window. … Perhaps you could ask him to tone it down a bit, or at least limit his outside time to 15-20 minutes a day. If this behavior continues I WILL CALL THE POLICE [sic]"
Naturally, there are now laws about laughing children. Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore says the note crosses a line and has unreasonable expectations of living around other people, which may include other children. She also offered that the correct way to confront the issue would be to address the neighbor face to face and explain why the child's laughter is bothersome. An anonymous note seems not only cowardly but somewhat threatening. Whitmore has advice for the father of the child.
"I'm sure the child's father can figure out who wrote the note based on the clues about the dogs and the bird. But he should not stoop to the neighbor's level in his reaction. He should take the high road and try to be as polite as possible."
Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, says the father should continue to go about his life and allow his son to play as he always has.
"The sound and sight of children playing in their own yard isn't something that normally offends people. The father doesn't need to please his neighbor. He needs to do what's best for his child."
How would you reply to a note like this?