Mr. Wilson

We have lovely next-door neighbors–I’ll call them the Wilsons.  It’s an apt nickname, actually, because there is an interesting relationship that has developed between my second-born son and Mr. Wilson.  It’s reminiscent of the old Mr. Wilson/Dennis the Menace cartoon. 

Except the difference between the cartoon Mr. Wilson and our Mr. Wilson is that ours is quiet and kind and gentlemanly and unendingly patient.

The difference between Dennis the Menace and my Stephen is…well, there really isn’t one.

The Wilson’s house is a quiet one, with a yard groomed so meticulously that Hubs jokingly refers to it as Augusta National.

And then there’s our yard, with its half-dug holes (in a vain attempt to find buried treasure), dirty socks, bikes piled in the driveway, and a wide assortment of abandoned plastic weaponry.  (Not to mention the two parents who live in this house, frazzled to the point that yard work is the last thing on our minds.)

I can best illustrate the difference thus:  when our two houses were built, the original owners planted identical trees on either side of the fence line, just a few feet apart from each other.  Mr. Wilson’s looks like this:


Notice the perfectly rounded shape, and the evenly edged flower bed.

Now, here’s our version:


Notice the sagging branches, and the rope, bricks and COAT HANGER threaded through the limbs in an unsuccessful attempt at a treehouse.  We’re a class act.

But back to Mr. Wilson and Stephen.

They met shortly after we moved in, five years ago.  Mr. Wilson was in his back yard, carefully cleaning out his gorgeous (and spotless) pool.  Stephen had climbed up into our backyard fort–if you climb into the very tip-top, you can look down into the Wilsons’ yard.  Stephen (then three and a half) quietly observed Mr. Wilson’s diligent work, until he couldn’t stand it any longer.  "You gonna get in that thing?" he hollered.

And thus was forged a unlikely friendship.

My chatty Stephen meanders over to Mr. Wilson’s house whenever he can.  There was the day one spring he went next door to demonstrate the best way to do arm-pit farts.  Frustrated that they weren’t loud enough, he assured the genteel Mr. Wilson that "I’ll be able to do these a lot better when I’m sweaty."

And when my ever-entrepreneurial boy made paper airplanes and decided to sell them door-to-door for a dollar (a DOLLAR!  Each!) it was Mr. Wilson who faithfully bought four of them.

If he has ever grown weary of his noisy neighbors, he hasn’t said a word.  He faithfully tosses the stray soccer balls and shoes and frisbees back over the fence without complaint.  He brings over stacks of coupons for freebies from the large company he works for.  And he doesn’t complain when my boys occasionally cannot resist the urge to walk barefoot in his inches-thick grass.

In an age when neighbors don’t always know each other, we know we’ve stumbled onto a real blessing having Mr. Wilson next door.  He is demonstrating quiet dignity to my boys, and they’re….well, they’re demonstrating arm-pit farts.

It’s a pretty good trade.

63 thoughts on “Mr. Wilson

  1. Kellyn says:

    You are so lucky to have neighbors like that!
    Growing up there were people like that in our neighborhood, and we loved going over there. They way they were has stayed with me, and I strive to be that kind of neighbor.
    Stephen will remember this relationship for such a long time.

  2. Dana says:

    Good neighbors are, well, they are a spice to life not easily substituted. The neighbors to our left are like that…elderly and grandparently. They accept the children’s spontaneous affections and always have a kind word for them.
    I think our other neighbors missed their calling. They should have been hermits. It would be easier for them to dodge the hellos they get in this small town neighborhood.

  3. Ashleigh says:

    It sounds like Mayberry. 🙂 I’ve lived in four different houses in our three years of married life, and out of the eight next-door-neigbors we’ve had, there have been two from whom we could borrow an egg, and six that, well… not so much. What a treasure you have!

  4. Tiff@Three Peas in a Pod says:

    What a great post!! I love our neighbors. But like you there yard is manicured and ours looks like. . well i’m not sure what iti looks like but it needs help. My kids are the only ones in the neighborhood so they love seeing all of them play in the yard.

  5. Sue says:

    I love our neighbors. I love them so much that when we put up fences, we just fenced around our two yards, so that there is no fence between them and the kids can play. It has been a revelation, living where we live, to know that neighbors can be wonderful, and not just people who are annoyed when your baby cries in the middle of the night.

  6. Liberty says:

    This made me cry because Mr. Wilson sounds so wonderful. We all need a Mr. Wilson like that for a neighbor. BTW, don’t feel bad about your yard because it looks surprisingly similar to ours. My boys are trying to catch a tiger with rope and pvc pipe tied to the tree! 🙂

  7. Owlhaven says:

    Shannon, Can I just tell you that I like you much better now that I know you harbor coat hangers in your bushes. You should seem my front yard!
    Mary, mom to many

  8. Georgia Mom says:

    Love it! What a great story and told so well. We could all be so lucky to have a “Mr. Wilson” live next door. Now, if he would just get his trimmers to your tree, you’d be in business :o)
    Georgia Mom

  9. Beth_C says:

    Are you positive the two trees are the exact same variety? Absolutely positive?
    You are very lucky to have such a sweet neighbor and he probably feels very blessed to live beside such an active house!

  10. Ladybug Crossing says:

    LOL!!! You are very very lucky to have such a nice neighbor. We live too far apart to do stuff like that and no – I will never ever have a tree that looks like Mr. Wilson’s. That would require work and being outside and dealing with bugs and stuff… I’m the coathanger type… Fire and forget.

  11. Ericka says:

    That is such a sweet story. You are very blessed (as is your little guy 🙂
    I loved the pictures of the trees. SO glad others share my experiences 🙂

  12. stacy says:

    this story gave me the warm fuzzies. how nice. I wish I knew our neighbors better. My kids are always asking why he never has his shirt on, so on second thought maybe I don’t.

  13. Nancy says:

    Such a warm post, and rare to hear about a neighborly neighbor.
    It sounds like you lucked out with Mr. Wilson, but I bet he’s they type that feels like the lucky one to have your boys keeping him smiling.

  14. JP's MOM says:

    Do you think Mr. Wilson reads your blog?
    That would be fun!
    Sounds like a great guy! And you are so right about the ‘good nneighbors are hard to come by’ thing. It is definitely a blessing.

  15. Staci at Writing and Living says:

    What a wonderful story. I’m sure your boys bring them a lot of joy.
    Your yard looks like mine. My mom reminds me that my aunt’s house didn’t have grass for years because my five cousins (and I did my part, too), trampled it all away. Now it looks very nice.

  16. Jenni says:

    Oh, that is so sweet. We had neighbors like that once, and then we moved. You never know what you got til it’s gone!
    And I cannot believe those are the SAME sorts of trees!! ROTFLMBO!!!

  17. Coralie says:

    LOL. And now reading to my husband.
    He is the middle if three boys, and often comments about the snippets I read to him from your blog that these were the things his mother would have written if she had a blog – and a more adventurous streak.

  18. Melissa says:

    We had neighbors like that next door growing up. We treated them like surrogate grandparents and they let us invade their house every so often and would sit and play games or let us look through their treaures. My sister and I even received the wonderful gift of the jewelry box and costume jewelry that we used to gaze at longingly when they moved away. Good memories, thanks for bringing them up.

  19. Rhen (yestheyareallmine) says:

    Sounds like you have been blessed with a wonderful neighbor. We live too far out in the country for any close neighbors but the few times we have lived in town we have had both good and bad but never a Mr. Wilson.
    Enjoy him for us!

  20. witchypoo says:

    Our Mr. Wilson was Chinese with an unpronouncable name. He was so kind and gentle, and always had candy for us.
    My brother said that when he grew up, he wanted to be a Chinaman.

  21. Stacey @ Happy Are We says:

    Would it shock Mr. Wilson too much if you went over there and gave him a great big hug for me?? My own 6yr old son tries so desperately to make friends with all of our neighbors (mostly retired folks), and he has yet to meet anyone willing to return his exuberant kindness. We’re moving soon, though, and I hope to find better luck in the new neighborhood!
    (ps…thank you, thank you, thank you for talking about your yard. i feel so ~understood~!)

  22. Checkers says:

    We just moved to a townhouse and the neighbor that shares the building with us is very quiet and to himself. I’ve yet to hear him say hi back to us. And he has long hair halfway down his back pulled back in a ponytail. The other day I walked out to get the mail and our neighbor was on his front step working on a project. My 3 year old son ran to the rock in front of our neighbor, looked at him curiously, and turned to me and asked, “Mommy, is that a boy or a girl?” Oi. I wish we had nice neighbors.

  23. Srah says:

    I can’t tell you how much this post warms my heart! Thank you. May we all be the kind of neighbors who have patience with the lives of our neighbos who differ from ours.

  24. Liz C says:

    We’ve had some lovely ones… Mr D and my oldest daughter became best buddies over a shared love of roses, and on her 8th birthday, he arrived on the doorstep with a vase of one dozen just for her, from his yard. We’ve moved since, but still visit him and his wife every Christmas Eve. Mr A kept ice-cream bars in the freezer for my kids, so they could all sit on the steps and have a treat. And Mrs W very kindly “saved” all her yard leaves, right where they fell, so my kids could have the fun of raking and jumping in them. Now we have Mrs I, who has as sweet a tooth as my 8yo son, so he spends a lot of time making sure she doesn’t need help bringing up groceries, or putting out her decorations, or just taking out the garbage.

  25. biodtl says:

    You’re very lucky. Our neighbors are evil. When my son was a toddler and loved saying hello to everyone, they would ignore him, refuse to say hello back and turn their backs on him. Once when my husband said hello to their dog, we were told that we can’t be friends with each others’ dogs.

  26. Stacey says:

    Lovely post, I bet that creating something simple but sweet would be welcomed (by Mr Wilson) on Thanksgiving Day?
    Or, just share your blog with him!
    Thank you for sharing something good with all of us, who crave something good!

  27. Diane says:

    LOL! Your photos tell the real story!
    How wonderful to have neighbors such as the Wilson’s! I’m still picturing the man who keeps his shrubs so manicured…….doing arm farts!
    What a guy!

  28. jubilee says:

    Abandoned plastic weapons and piled up bikes, even the hanger . . . it all sounds eerily familiar . . .
    Mr. Wilson sounds great. Do they make them like that anymore?

  29. Alice says:

    Mr. Wilson sounds wonderful!
    I was LOL at the tree picture. We have a dogwood tree in our FRONT yard that always has something hanging in it…a wreath holder, a jumprope, hangers, etc. Right now it’s the rope and ball from a T-ball set because that’s my son’s “wrecking crane”.

  30. maria says:

    oh my gosh, I have just a couple neighbors but they are all older and retired. which equals nothing but yard work for them to do. Needless to say yardwork is absolute dead last on my list ALWAYS. I laughed heartily at the two trees…and believe me, you are not alone in feeling like the yucky yard.

  31. Hope says:

    I don’t have kids yet, so I had to laugh when this post reminded me of my husband. As a 5 (or so) year old, he sold PINE CONES door to door in his neighborhood. They were mostly older couples, and he racked up! Of course, every house in the neighborhood had pine cones all over the yard already, but he was so darn cute (still is).

  32. chris says:

    Mr Wilsons are like gold.
    We have a female version who loves our kids and is like living next door to grandma.
    She is long suffering LOL
    18 years ago ,she was 80 and my son 6 months old.She is still going strong and my kids still call her aunty,as do my 46 year old twin neighbours who have known her all their lives.

  33. Margo says:

    Thanks for this bright post! We have some good neighbors right now, thank God. I have a mental list of all the ways I want to return the kindness and love that has been showered on my family and I’m adding “be welcoming to all the neighbor kids” to the list.

  34. Shannon says:

    My husband and I are talking landscaping right now…I had to show him those pictures. His comment, “yeah but it looks like hers is in the shade”.
    Me: “yeah I don’t think that’s why it looks like that” :o)

  35. Jen says:

    That’s just so sweet, how wonderful that your boys have a neighbor like that! 🙂 I just love the pictures of the “identical” trees! 😀

  36. Laurie in TN says:

    We need more Mr. Wilson’s in this world! I know we had one. He would dutifully bring over the golf balls that our son hit in his yard. And bought the drawings that our young children made to earn money “because our parents are too poor to buy us paper and crayons.” And gave the kids toothpaste and money instead of candy for Halloween!

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