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Old 05-12-2020, 02:48 PM
Location: NoVA/SoFLO
18,535 posts, read 25,361,406 times
Reputation: 6858


Hi all. I wasn’t sure where else to post this, so I’ll post here.

Two years ago, we moved into a new home. We have about .25 acres and where our patio is faces the backyard of the neighbors behind us. The neighbors moved in last July, and we’ve gotten to be nice acquaintances with them. We exchange food, conversation along the property line and all have kids. Two weeks after they moved in, they installed a pool, which was placed on the far end of their property, about 10 feet from our property line and about 30 feet from the start of our back patio. Now, their 6 and 8 year old are out there playing daily with friends.

Unfortunately for us, their daughter shrieks constantly - all day - while in the pool. I don’t mean yell, or laugh, I mean an ear piercing shriek that makes our ears ring when we’re trying to sit in our screened in porch or on our patio. Last week, we had an adult [social distancing] happy hour on our back patio. All six adults couldn’t have a conversation, and we had to call it quits after about 20 minutes because we couldn’t enjoy each other’s company. All the happy hour attendees have young children, and all were shocked that the neighbors allow their kids to be so incessantly loud. It can be heard throughout our house, and goes on for hours upon hours during the daytime. I brought my echo outside in an attempt to drown out the noise, but it does nothing. The shrieks are going on as I’m typing this, and it was so loud, I was startled while watching TV.

I don’t easily get bothered, especially when it comes to hearing children play. There are much worse noises we can hear but, my gosh - it’s horrid. We don’t want to be enemies with our neighbors, which is why I asked my wife to refrain from speaking with her parents about it. But at this point, I’m not sure what else to do to have some sort of quality of life both inside and outside our home. Many parents are very defensive of their children and I don’t want to be at odds with the neighbors.

Soliciting thoughts on how to proceed, if at all.
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Old 05-12-2020, 02:59 PM
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Is the daughter special needs? Students who are non verbal and have extreme special needs often have issues with constant, very loud screaming, and teachers work hard to reduce/eliminate that behavior because obviously it makes the person very difficult to be around.

If that's not what's going on, I would have a conversation with her parents and let them know that the screaming is very loud and can be heard both inside and outside your house with all the doors and windows shut. If she's able to control it then it's perfectly reasonable to ask her not to scream at the top of her lungs for hours on end.

Last edited by kitkatbar; 05-12-2020 at 03:23 PM..
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Old 05-12-2020, 03:18 PM
3,783 posts, read 3,793,594 times
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Record the screaming for a good 10 minutes and then go over to your neighbor's house and play it for them. Chances are they don't realize how loud it is if they are in the house and not actually outside with the kids. Even if they are outside with the kids, one can only take so much.

We have a trampoline and my daughter is 10 and her little friends would come over and jump and scream. It drove my husband crazy. He always nipped that in the bud right away with a "let's not yell and scream" or else you'll have to get off the trampoline chat.
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Old 05-12-2020, 03:35 PM
572 posts, read 410,585 times
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Good luck speaking to your neighbors. I am sooo sorry that you have this situation at your home. Move.
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Old 05-12-2020, 05:27 PM
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Do speak to them in person.

If you want to avoid bad feelings bring a gift like cookies, or beer, or both!

Go prepared with helpful cooperative suggestions like exchanging numbers so you can text them when you're having an outdoor party, or would like a little peace and quiet. Consider a nice way to give them your schedule of when you could use some peace. Make your requests reasonable but don't be afraid to ask.

Don't show up with just a laundry list of complaints or stick a letter in their mailbox or some other passive-aggressive BS.

Other potential gift ideas to show that you're not some kid-hating curmudgeon include stuff you can get from the dollar store like play-doh or sidewalk chalk.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:49 PM
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Your problem is that you should have addressed it last summer.

I'm guessing you'd do best to ask if you can stop by to discuss something - it will help if it's in person and if it's on their territory. You have to figure out how to explain why you waited so long - maybe you can say that you figured that the early screaming was just the excitement of the novelty and you expected it would diminish.

Maybe the best approach is to say something like: The problem isn't just that it's excessively loud (and mention that it's loud enough to drown out conversation), but that even though intellectually you know that it's children playing, on an emotional level it rattles you because you keep imagining that something is wrong, that the children are in trouble. You can add that the habitual screaming would make it difficult for an adult to be able to tell if there really were trouble. Add politely that you recognize that the parents probably don't even notice it, and the kids have very little self-control at that age, but that maybe they could speak to them as a first step. Give them some space to make comments, and then add that perhaps they could take other steps - limiting the numbers of children, planting some think bushes to absorb the noise.

It would help hugely if you can enlist any other neighbors - people who live on the other side, perhaps.

And you have to be willing to live with the fact that it may destroy your relationship with the neighbors.

Good luck.
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:18 PM
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Go over to see them, preface it with "There's no way to say this that won't be awkward, but the children's screaming is disturbing our peace. Please get them to enjoy their pool without the screaming. We want to be good neighbors, and we hope you feel the same way."

If it doesn't work, make plans to move. I completely understand how you feel. I would feel the same way. The only way that you could avoid the possibility of noise like this is to move to an area with much larger lots - say several acres or larger - so that you can have a greater chance of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, rural areas come with their own problems.

Maybe an upscale 55 and older community, with single homes?
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Old 05-13-2020, 04:34 AM
Location: NoVA/SoFLO
18,535 posts, read 25,361,406 times
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I really appreciate everyone’s advice so far.

Just to clarify, the child is not special needs and to my knowledge, doesn’t have behavioral issues. She’s always at the bus stop and seems to be a very nice kid.

Cida - unfortunately their pool wasn’t finished last summer so it didn’t get any use. The screams are new. What you said re: something wrong, another neighbor mentioned that and stated she almost dialed 911. She further said she considered dialing 911 anyway so the police can tell their parents a concerned neighbor called. I politely told her that would be a huge waste of precious public service resources so I hope she doesn’t. But the first time we heard it, prior to realizing it was just an excited little kid, we ran out of our back door wondering what was happening. It was startling to say the least, and continues to be every time we hear it.

Parentologist, you’re 100% right that this is the downfall of living in a populated area. Prior to moving here, as you know, we were in Ridgefield, CT where every home is on an acre and a child screaming next door was no big deal. Now, the area we’re in would be considered rural to most and can only get those 1 acre lots about an hour outside the city. I don’t mind the smaller lots (easier upkeep) so long as you have good neighbors! Unfortunately (or fortunately?) we cannot yet live in a 55+ community. We’re a good 20 and 22 years away from that as we’re only in our 30s.

Overall, I like the suggestion of nicely speaking to the father, who’s only slightly older than I am, letting him know I always become concerned because it sounds like something could be wrong. My other half had the idea to invite a few of the neighborhood dads over for a beer so he can hear it for himself, that way I may not even have to say anything.
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Old 05-13-2020, 06:27 AM
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
49,990 posts, read 49,418,300 times
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I gotta say, OP, you handled these replies quite gracefully.

Any chance a good water feature with a fountain on your patio could muffle the noise?

The beer idea may work. I will never forget the day I went over to my neighbor's house, turned to see my house from her point of view (which was a side that had no door or entry and so didn't get much attention from us), and immediately got out the yard tools when I went home and got to work.

But I wanna caution you about getting your hopes too high for resolution. Never underestimate the extent to which little girls can shriek. By next summer she'll probably get a phone and you won't hear a thing.
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Old 05-13-2020, 07:11 AM
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Location: Ohio
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I used to have neighbors whose children (elementary school age boy and girl) seemed to be heavily scheduled. Every weekday at 4:00pm, weather permitting, the kids would go into the back yard pool for 20 minutes. At 4:20, pool time would end and they would go back inside. The girl would always shriek during pool time. It was audible through our closed windows. It got to the point where we would hear the first shriek, see that the time was 4:00 and say "I guess it's time for 20 minutes of shrieking!"

Since it always dependably ended at 4:20, it was tolerable. If the shrieking had gone on for the entire afternoon, it would have driven us crazy, so I sympathize with OP.
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