Thursday, November 19, 2015

If Our Kids Don't Like You There's A Good Chance We Won't Either

Our kids love their Uncle Jayber

I stand firm in my belief that dogs are exceptionally perceptive and intelligent. They can sense when you're sick, scared, sad, etc. They can also sense a multitude of natural happenings hours and days in advance from storms to earthquakes. Earlier this year, when our area experienced daily earthquakes, our kids knew they were coming. In the hours before, they'd pace, growl at what appeared to be nothing and Coco refused to eat breakfast. Sure enough, a few hours later, the rumbling began.

I also believe dogs can sense negative energy in humans whether it's ill intent, toxicity, evil nature, etc. You've probably heard the saying, "If my dog doesn't like you, there's a good chance I won't either." There's a whole lot of truth in those words. While I never doubted a dog's capacity to sense negative energy, my belief in their ability solidified even greater over the recent months.

For the record, this is a condensed version of the actual events. Consider it "the microwave' version.

Lisa and I live in a two family home. We moved here over three years ago. We love it here. Wonderful neighborhood. Quiet. We've made friends with several neighbors. They've become part of our little family. People wave when they drive by or stop to chat. I honestly didn't think neighborhoods like this still existed. They do.

The upstairs sat vacant for almost 6 months after the former tenants moved out. Then, mid summer last year, he moved in. He had a dog. Common ground. We introduced ourselves, with a few biscuits in hand, and it went well. He was a charmer. Talkative. Somewhat courteous. An eager willingness to quickly establish himself with the neighbors.

Something held me back slightly from his brilliant display of bullshit artistry.

In the days and weeks to follow, he settled in. If we were outdoors, he'd approach us and initiate conversation. Often times, I would send Lisa upstairs to deliver a plate of dinner. I always make too much. Or, if I baked cookies or bread or brownies, I'd make extra. Despite my leeriness of his unfavorable qualities that caused disturbance in our home, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Our kids, Coco and Sophie at the time, not so much. Coco wanted nothing to do with him and paced on the leash in his presence. Sophie flinched at his every move and walked in the other direction when she saw him. We took notice to this and made certain their outside time was when he wasn't around or outside.

I kept telling myself, "Be kind...everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

Then, in November, it happened. He came home intoxicated. Loud crashes at the back door. I muted the TV. I honestly thought he had taken a tumble down the stairs. Shortly after, I heard him tromping up the outdoor side stairs. Slam. Stomp. Stomp. Bang. These noises became familiar and were telltale signs he had been throwing back a few too many.

His drunken spectacle in its entirety lasted about 10 minutes. For most of this time, our kids barked. Understandably so. They're dogs. If it sounds like someone is emptying totes of bricks at our back door or trying to bounce bowling balls upstairs, they're going to bark. It frightens them. It frightens me.

I received a text. From him.

"If you took your dogs outside more, let them run around and spent time with 'em, they wouldn't bark so much."

If I could pin the exact turning point, that would probably be it. He crossed the line. My better judgement knew I shouldn't reply. Attempting to reason with a narcissistic asshole someone who was intoxicated is pointless and typically doesn't end on a positive note. However, he insulted our kids. My wife. Our family.

Big. Huge. No. No.

I replied back. I don't recall word-for-word, however, it was along the lines of, "If you didn't come home making such a ruckus in your drunken stupor or sound as if you're bowling upstairs, our kids wouldn't bark so much."

Another text appeared. Insult after insult about our kids and how we could improve our training skills to tone down on their barking. I sent another reply, "You're the last person who should be doling out advice on being a pet parent. You're not the (f-bomb) dog whisperer. In fact, you're the root of the (f-bomb) problem. Sober up and I'll think about discussing this tomorrow with you."

He replied back. I didn't. I wasn't going to debate the issue with an idiot who's idea of stellar pet parenting was to open the door, let their dog out and go back inside for a half hour while their dog roamed the streets. Then, stand outside on the porch for five minutes whistling for their dog to return.

This happened 'round the clock and, often times, woke us and our kids up.

So yes. The turning point. Since that text conversation, everything changed. His true colors radiated. Like with Lisa and I, our kids had sensed something about him as well prior to this incident. They. Didn't. Like. Him. When they heard his voice, they got nervous and it became even more apparent. Coco paced. Sophie hid under the bed. In time, after Lobo's arrival, he too displayed nervous habits. His anxiety eventually went through the roof.

About a week after the initial text, Lisa was outside. He approached her and attempted to make small talk to justify what had happened. At one point during the conversation, he had the audacity to tell Lisa, "If you had been home, she wouldn't have spoken to me like that."

For me, that statement was a red flag in more ways than one. I began psychoanalyzing conversations that had taken place up until that point. His behavior. Body language. The way he spoke about women. Insults he had made about several of our neighbors and continued to make even after we had spoken up in their defense. The topic of conversations he'd start with us. His continuous need to maintain a certain stature. 

During the time I was picking apart conversations and such, two things pierced my brain. The first, over the summer, Lisa and I had returned home from running errands. Coco and Sophie were inside barking as they always do when we arrive home. He was outside and made a lighthearted comment about the barking. Then, jokingly, he said, "Give me a few minutes with them and I'll take care of that barking for ya."

The second...two, out of the many, women he briefly dated had called the police on him. On one occasion, the police showed up at his door. We heard everything. I take that shit very seriously. Two women in less than two months going to the police because of him. That's nothing to mess around with.

And, I already knew he had a temper because after the November situation, there had been a few other occasions where I had to stand my ground and speak up.

By January I was in full armor. He didn't hide his animosity towards me. I was a woman. I had spoken up to him. I didn't worship the ground he walked on. I saw right through him. Because of that, he didn't miss an opportunity to disturb the peace within our home. When he knew I was sleeping, he'd whistle outside the bedroom window waking the kids and I up. Often times, when using the outside stairs, he'd bang on the window. If using the back stairs, he'd bang on the door. The excessive noise upstairs was 'round the clock. Throughout all of this, the kids were unsettled. They'd bark...always on guard.

Once again, this is a condensed version of what happened during the months he lived upstairs.

His attempts to disrupt our home and, in short, make our life a living hell, increased. His tactics were saved mostly for when Lisa was at work however, they didn't completely cease while she was home. Why make it look obvious, right?

Towards the middle of February, and straight through April, the stress level was through the roof. His business appeared to have come to a halt as he was home most of the time. He made sure his presence was known. Round the clock. At that point, I very seldom worked at my desk. The TV tray and Chrome book got a workout. All 3 kids joined me. They'd rest peacefully while I worked until they heard him moving around upstairs. I would hold my breath. The kids would would be on high alert.

Throughout this time, not once, were our kids left home alone. Ever. Lisa and I didn't trust him. We weren't going to risk their safety. We adjusted our schedules slightly and made it work. 

At some point during the first week of April, he was informed he'd have to vacate the premises by the end of the month. Lisa and I were beyond relieved and overjoyed. The end of a very long almost-one-year was coming to an end. Although ecstatic, we fully prepared for the remainder of the month to be the worst of the worst. He had to move. He had no choice. After what we had been through, and knowing how his thought process functioned, it was inevitable the following three weeks would be the grand finale.

And it was. 

He began moving his belongings out the Wednesday before the final date. He dragged it out for several days and a couple of days after the final date.

Once he was moved out, the peace within our home was restored. Slowly. The weight of his negative energy lifted almost immediately. Lisa and I exhaled. Our kids napped soundly. It's difficult to put into words. I remember enduring a severe storm accompanied by a tornado when I lived out of state. Within minutes after it glided through our area, the skies cleared. Blue sky. Sun. The only evidence of the storm, aside from the massive damage, was the rain soaked ground. What happened in our home, after he left, reminded me of that.


The following weekend, our new upstairs neighbors, also the new owner of our house, moved in. Thirty-something woman with her teenage daughter. Good people. In October, we extended a Bodacious Bunch O' Love & Gratitude to this awesome lady.

Despite the noise stemming from them cleaning, painting, moving and settling in and the company who visited to offer assistance, our kids were calm and relatively quiet. They've met most of the people who had showed up during the course of the weekend. Their tails were wagging and they were soaking up the attention...even Coco who takes a bit longer to warm up to strangers.

They could sense the positive energy. And, in their own sweet way, they let us know we could relax.

All was right with the world again.

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