Like I was saying....

The Girl From The Shed Next Door

:: Give me some advice, please ::

There’s a shed in the back yard of one of our neighbors. A big one. Maybe it’s a small apartment. Depends on how you look at it. But I think there’s been a man living in it for the past few months. I see his big red truck there all the time. And he turns his headlights on when he wants to grill some hamburgers.

Then I started noticing a red car next to the red truck. Tacky cute, maybe. Two weeks ago I come home from work and my mother in law is watching The Kid. I have a paper to write for my class at Asbury so I come in and get on the computer. Mom-in-law stays around for a bit and takes The Kid and the dogs outside. They swing or slide or whatever for a bit, then they come in…with guests. Two girls who say they live nearby. One’s 10 and the other’s 5. They go to The Kid’s room and play in there for a bit, then my mother in law leaves. She chuckles at me and leaves them all here.

They play with dolls and all that stuff for a while, then run around the house, then go to the kitchen. My daughter is really, really excited to have guests over. “Dad, these are my friends!” She’s being the perfect host of these girls I’ve never seen in my life. She offers them something to drink. So I follow them to the kitchen. They’re pouring Gatorade. So I clean up a bit, then I realize they’re sharing one cup between the three of them. Whoa! Gotta stop that.

But then I tell them that The Wife will be home in a short bit and we’ll need to get ready for supper. I ask where they live and they point to the shed/apt. in the back yard next to us. Interesting, I think. Didn’t know that many people lived there.

The next day they’re back. And the next. Turns out they, along with their mom, have recently moved in with their mom’s boyfriend. They apparently get left there during the day sometimes while they go to men’s softball tournaments and stuff. Sort of a sad situation.

We go to KY last week…get back on Friday about 3pm. School has started for the next door kids and they get home just after 3pm. They walk up and you’d think it was Christmas. Turns out the 5 year old girl is living with her dad, so it’s just the 10 year old girl and her 7 year old brother. They come by and play for a while, then The Wife does some errands and The Kid and I do some separate errands away from the house. So we say goodbye to our friends.

After going to Wal-Mart, the movie store, and picking up one of our dogs we head back home. Get out of the car. Head to the door. And *BOOM* there is the 10 year old girl.

It’s become overbearing. Any time they’re home, they are like hawks on the lookout for us to be here. They came home today from school and came to our house to play even before going home. If we leave, they ask how long we’ll be gone. When we say that play time is over for the day, she asks about tomorrow’s schedule. How do we handle this?

I realize that kids are going to make friends and want to play together. But all the time everyday? And I understand that maybe this 10 year old girl might not have a very stable home life right now living in a big wooden shed in someone’s back yard. But my daughter is less than a third of her age. How do we set boundaries? Where should we draw the line? How do we show the love of Jesus here without being swarmed every time they think we’re home?


  1. Steve

    you know, this is an interesting problem…one that all christian parents face. its a dilema (sp) for sure.

  2. Bob

    I set boundaries by limiting my children's playtime with others (when it becomes too much like you say) I stress the need for some family time, where no one who isn't family is in the apartment.

  3. jeremy

    i agree, family is important. a few things that i would try, but haven't been there yet, so i don't know what would work:
    • get to know the girl. You're daughter is 1/3 her age. I don't think the 10 yr old is looking for a 3 yr old best friend, she's looking for acceptance. The more you know her, the more you'll understand why she needs acceptance. Perhaps her mom loves her, but spends too much energy elsewhere… or, worse, perhaps there's not much love at all in the "shed." In any case, she's looking for something other than what The Kid is giving her. Get your wife involved here as well, but don't leave it up to her. I'd venture to guess she needs a strong male figure in her life.

    • decide with your wife how often you want to let them play. Pick specific days (two or three afternoons a week maybe, plus some on saturday? i dunno..) then talk to the 10 yr old and explain it to them. Tell her if she ever needs anything, she's welcome to come over, but tell her that play days are only on those decided upon days. She's old enough to at least understand that.

    • also, i'd go over and meet the mom/bf. Say hello, tell them you know their daughter, and invite them over for dinner.

    Don't sacrifice your family, but see the opportunity to increase His family, and at the very least, make an impression on a young girls life.

  4. Blake

    Thaks for the advice, guys. I'll keep you updated

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