Anonymous letter accuses kids of playing too loudly in their backyard
Published Tuesday, March 13, 2018 6:40PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 14, 2018 2:32PM EDT
When Morgan DeCairos DeBoer received an anonymous letter in the mail accusing her young boys of playing too loudly in their own backyard, she couldn’t put it out of her mind.
“I was disturbed,” she told CTVNews.ca. “Every little sound the kids were making, I was like, ‘Is that what they feel is too loud?’”
The letter arrived stamped and sealed in an envelope via Canada Post last week with no return address, signed from “Your Neighbors (sic).”
“This is a friendly request which I felt is better done through the mail,” the letter began. “I am one of several neighbors (sic) who are frustrated with the frequent screaming and shrieking your children make while playing in your back yard. This is very disruptive whether we are outside or inside and interrupts whatever we are doing, be it TV, reading or napping.”
Heading into March break, the Newmarket, Ont., family of six -- including four boys all under the age of six -- felt on edge, unable to play freely in their backyard. They’ve lived in the Woodland Hills area of Newmarket for a few years now. With three elementary schools within walking distance, it’s a young family neighbourhood that was built just 15 years ago. They have never seen anyone leering over fences angrily, and are friendly with their next-door neighbours and those across the street, who all know the kids’ names. They walk to the bus every morning together and have never been involved with any community drama.
But the letter upended that. “I was second guessing myself, ‘Are my kids loud?’” said DeCairos DeBoer. During a recent night spent thinking about the letter, she took to social media at 2:30 a.m.
“I couldn’t sleep. I had to get it out,” she said. “This coward didn’t even come to my door and I can’t defend myself.”
She has received resounding support from other parents on Facebook after posting the letter, some even offering to bring drums and party supplies for a backyard gathering with their children too. “Kids need to be outdoors more, not less,” wrote one supporter. “Scream louder, play harder boys,” wrote another. “Dear Morgan's neighbours, Maybe suburbia isn't for you,” teased someone else.
DeCairos DeBoer hopes the neighbourhood debacle encourages other parents to let their kids play outside the way they want to.
“Kids gotta get out and do their thing,” she said. Though she was initially uncomfortable letting the boys in the backyard again, six-year-old Phoenix, four-year-old Quinn, two-year-old Gabriel and nine-month-old Benjamin are having a normal March break at home. “I’m not going to do anything differently,” said their mom.
Her anonymous neighbour would have it a different way. In the letter, they offer a few suggestions for DeCairos DeBoer when her children are outside.
“We encourage you to correct your child when he screams by saying ‘Please stop that yelling’ or something like that,” the neighbour wrote.
DeCairos DeBoer’s response? “If you had kids and you say stop yelling it only makes them yell louder. If they’re having an altercation outside I listen and try to let them work it out. If they don’t, in a minute I intervene,” she said.
“Perhaps if you supervised them while they were in the back yard it would help,” they suggested.
DeCairos DeBoer said she does, though sometimes she might be supervising with the screen door cracked while making dinner as the baby sleeps. “Kids need independent play. The safest place is in my backyard,” she said. “I don’t see a problem with that.
“Other possibilities would be to take them to the park?” the neighbour offered.
Their mother’s contention with the park suggestion is that she has four kids, including a nine-month old, who take about 30 minutes just to get dressed and ready for the park, which is a 10 to 15 minute walk away. “After school, it’s not something that I can do,” she said.
“It should be possible to have them play without screaming and in the long run be helpful to them,” they wrote.
DeCairos DeBoer suspects their neighbour is older and without kids around anymore. “If you’ve ever read anything about early education, it’s about letting them be independent and letting them use their voice in the way they want to get their frustration out and show their emotions a little better. If we’re constantly telling them how to be, they don’t how to know regulate themselves,” she said.
While the family isn’t sure who the neighbour could be, they have their suspicions that it might be new neighbours on the street behind them, where several houses have sold in the last six months to a year. Regardless, DeCairos DeBoer isn’t going to change anything because of an anonymous letter.
“If they’re hiding then they’re not worth my time,” she says.
“I’m going to put a smile on my face when I walk out with my kids and say hi to my neighbours.”