Meet the Wilsons

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.

This post was originally published on November 16, 2007.

53 thoughts on “Meet the Wilsons

  1. zoe says:

    oh wow, that post made me cry!
    You should meet my neighbours they stand in their yard having huge arguments, and play Michael Jackson VERY loud all summer long!

  2. Wendy says:

    We used to have a neighbor that we referred to as Augusta National, too. I didn’t even have to click on the link to get the reference! Our other neighbor we called “Cops”, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

  3. Amy Ellen says:

    I didn’t read this one the first time around… good thing I didn’t miss it altogether. Hilarious… that’s the difference between my neighbors front gardens and ours… it is uncanny!

  4. Bailey's Leaf says:

    Oh, we love our neighbors. E-, K-‘s friend, lives next door and vultures the end of our driveway until we come out so that she can come to play. The boys across the street love K- as if she is their very own and take it upon themselves to share neighborhood dirt. Mike, our other neighbor, is very giving. He even tried to repair our front yard last week, by surprise spreading the rest of his weed and feed in hopes to fight the dead spots his dog left.
    We like to garden organically though. It’s a funny story though.
    We love our neighbors and even though I’m sure that the boys across the street watch to the point that they know when we use the bathroom, I love having them all right where they are at!
    Good neighbors are a GREAT thing!

  5. Rachel says:

    What a fantastic post! Thanks for re-running. What a blessing to have such a wonderful neighbor. Especially for the kids. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at a friends house and she was surrounded by not so loving and grace-filled neighbors. We were always horrified if the ball went over the fence!
    God Bless Wilson for demonstrating love and grace!

  6. Creative Junkie says:

    I wish we had a neighbor like that! Our neighbors wave and say hi but unfortunately, that’s about it – I can’t even imagine my kids going over to one of their houses to hang out, let alone do things with their armpits.

  7. holli t. says:

    Oh… I feel your pain. We live in a neighborhood of manicured lawns. These are the lawn-mowinest people I’ve ever seen in my life! And, my son blows zerberts on his forearm to make obscene noises. He just turned two. Heaven help us.

  8. megan@Hold it Up to the Light says:

    I loved that story! My Lucy (also my second born) has that sort of relationship with our next door neighbor, too. Mrs. K is so patient with her and lets her help with the planting and weeding and watering of her gorgeous yard.
    Sadly, I use to have a green thumb and need to get back in the yard soon….Lucy would be delighted! Trouble is, I can’t quite figure out how to grow flowers and children at the same time 🙂

  9. everydayMOM says:

    That’s great! I have to say, though, that I have NEVER seen anyone do that to a tree! How often does he have to sculpt it to keep it looking so round?!?

  10. Blakely says:

    You have such great neighbors. My parents have neighbors like that and it makes me sad that my husband and I don’t. Thanks for the great post.

  11. Brigid says:

    We call my daughter “Dennis” when she spends a lot of time at the neighbors’ house. They have strict instructions to send her home if they have other things to do, but they never do (send her home, I’m sure they have other stuff to do.) I always ask them for yard advice too, as theirs is neatly manicured and our bushes are taller than the house. Great post.

  12. Tammy W. says:

    Very sweet. My children run to the neighbor’s house as often as they can since Grandma and Granddad live next door. :0) My 3 year old daughter leaves her shirt and pants outside. Yikes.

  13. elizabethk says:

    Has the relationship remained? This is SO wonderful to read/hear about! We had similar neighbors when I was growing up – The McCall’s – the Mr. took a shine to my younger brother and I. He was an amazing man – let me hunt the toads in his basement window wells, had serious talks with my brother about life – had a lemon drop tree, and a spaghetti tree (which was really red lace licorice.) — I’ll never forget such an amazing neighbor to grow up around/with!
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story, again!

  14. sondra says:

    This is funny now and it will be so very funny in later years when your kids have kids and you remember this moment again. I still remember our son coming down to breakfast one morning when we had had an overnight guest. He had a small tape player with him and proceeded to play a recording he had made during the night of our guest —-yes, snoring!

  15. Barb @ A Chelsea Morning says:

    You really are blessed – after almost five years, I still don’t even know most of our neighbors. Mr. Wilson sounds like a dream neighbor, but I think his tree looks silly. Your tree looks real – ropes, bricks, coathanger and all.

  16. Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates says:

    Oh – LOL!! I just LOVE this story! I can totally picture it in my mind. What a wonderful neighbor to have. We are so blessed to have some very nice neighbors where we live now – we have not had that in past houses. Good neighbors are worth their weight in GOLD!

  17. Court says:

    The first thing I thought when I saw the coat-hanger was THAT IS FING BRILLIANT!! I mean, it’s like a stair. Or a gadget to hang teddy bears by the feet.

  18. Shauna says:

    We have great neighbors like that too!!! My kids once put a bunch of our leftover garage sale stuff (you know, the good stuff…) in a wagon and rolled it around the cul-de-sac to sale! I think they made a few bucks!

  19. Janelle says:

    What a great story. We have three boys and just adopted a stray MALE dawg. We have a wonderful neighbor, Mr. Al. He has ice cream socials with my boys, lets them “help” him with his yard work and regularly patrols the neighbor in his pjs. He just brought over stuffed cabbage two nights ago. Our house is up for sale-reading your story makes me want to take down the sign…

  20. ukrainiac says:

    I pray that one day we will be Mr. and Mrs. Wilson to another family(ies?!) Thanks for posting! (And looking for Mr. and Mrs. Wilsons for our future grandchildren!!)

  21. Only Daughter says:

    So funny and so sweet. We have a “Wilsons” situation but with a twist. We live with the ghost of Mr. Miller, the sweet widower we bought our house from. His lawn was golf course perfect. He lectured us about the lawn and would not sell us the house until we swore we would maintain the lawn to his standards. Two years later we’ve failed miserably – looks more like an elemenatry school playground. We’ve actually caught Mr. Miller driving by and I know he is cursing us.
    Your tree is loved and that’s all that matters.

  22. Mary says:

    HA HA HA! I think you can tell which houses have kids on our block by the yards! I tell people that ours is the house with the disreputable front yard and they can pick it out every time.
    Friendly neighbours are a real blessing. We don’t have a Mr Wilson, but we do have great neighbours on both sides and we are so lucky!

  23. Jill says:

    We have neighbors just like this who have adopted our children as grandchildren. They have a candy dish waiting and ever listening ears. What a blessing they are. Thank you for that reminder.

  24. Jen says:

    I remeber reading this post when it was originally posted and laughing so hard at the comparison of the two “identical” trees that I made my husband walk over to see it! 🙂 I love this sweet post!

  25. Kim H. says:

    Beautiful post, Shannon! We have our own set of Wilsons — that I will miss dearly when we move — in fact we’re all still in denial and just not even talking about it!
    In fact when we moved in ((shudder)) they wanted to make sure we weren’t putting up a fence so our kids COULD play in their yard! Nothing makes them happier than a big old neighborhood baseball game!

  26. jess says:

    I saved your blog forever ago and just now looked back at it today (please forgive me just had my 5th little one lol) and this one made my day!

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