Advice on how to repair bad neighbor reputation?
We first moved in about a year ago, and everything was great. The neighbors all seemed friendly to one another, and happily said "Hello!" with a wave if they walked by while we were out in the yard.
During the process of moving in, however, I tore the ligament in the arch of both of my feet (and still have issues with my right foot to this day) and could barely walk. I have four dogs, and since I could not walk, my son had to take them out. Being a typical 13 year old, he'd just open the front door, and let the dogs run amok throughout the neighborhood, running after them and shouting to get them inside. Despite repeated discipline, the behavior continued, unless I was there to watch him like a hawk each time (which I could not always do, since I also had an 18 month old daughter at the time.) Bad neighbor strike one.
We also run a business out of our home, and get a LOT of shipments in. This creates not just boxes at our front door to be taken in, but also a lot of recycling on garbage day. Again, because I could not walk, I could not carry in the boxes, or unload the recycling. My husband works 14 to 16 hours every day, so he felt it appropriate to give those chores to my son (which I do not feel unreasonable.) However, being a 13 year old boy, he just dumped the recycling out in the front yard without consolidating it or securing it (yes, I told him to do so and even showed him how.) On two separate occasions, it got windy overnight, and the recycling ended up all over the neighborhood. I did pick it up the first time, and made him pick it up and apologize the second time. it has not happened since, but I still have another bad neighbor strike against me. In addition, while I was surveying how far the packing peanuts had been blown, two of our neighbors were talking, and one of the whirled around (they probably thought I was watching them or something) and it startled me so much that I jumped, and then tripped over a box of clothing that I had yet to unpack. Not sure if that is another bad neighbor strike, but it probably adds a creepy neighbor title in there somewhere. It is at this point where I start noticing the neighbors, who had been extremely friendly to everyone, including us, and always outside, were suddenly never outside anymore.
Next, I decided, very stupidly, that I would build my own fence to save money. Why I thought that was a brilliant idea, I am not quite sure, because...you know....I can't really walk very much. *eye roll at myself* I did get the fence done, but it took FOREVER. (Like, a month. I know, right?) Needless to say, I am sure that having my backyard a construction zone with landscaping equipment everywhere was probably another strike on the bad neighbor board.
Finally, the landscaping was in, the fence was done, the dogs were contained, I finally had my son doing his chores on time and properly, and I'm keeping up with the yard to make it all pretty. I had this feeling that me not seeing the neighbors outside was because of me, but I told myself, "Don't be silly. They are nice people. They are friends with everyone on the block. You are being overly sensitive, and it probably has nothing to do with you." Until of course, on July 4th, when I went outside to do some yard work, they were all outside with their son, having a good time. When the wife saw me, she nudged her husband, gestured towards me, so he looks at me, and turns to his son and says, "Ok, we'll have to come out and have fun later!" Then, they pack up everything and go back inside. Whoa.
Shortly after, we found out that my son had to have spinal surgery, so the yard work had to be handed off to my hubby. His idea of "mowing the lawn" is waiting until it is at least 10 inches long, mowing the flat surfaces in the front yard only, and no edging or weeding. When I spoke to him about the fact that he either needs to be doing all of the yard completely or hiring a service, he said a service is too much money, and he doesn't care what the neighbors think.
I think of the list of what makes a bad neighbor, I think we've hit all except playing loud music at 2am. I'm incredibly embarrassed about it, and really want to make it right with my neighbors. I've fixed most of the actual problems, and now that my son has recovered to the point where he can walk by himself again, I can take over mowing, etc. I know actions speak louder than words, so I'm doing the things that I need to do in order to be a "good neighbor." However, is that enough for me to get back the friendly report with my neighbors, or do you think I need to go farther with either a letter, or knocking door to door to apologize in person, and bring cookies or whatnot? Any advice? I tried looking this up on Google, but it only has advice on how to deal with bad neighbors, not how to go from being viewed as bad to being viewed as good. Thanks and sorry for the LONG post!