You hear all the time “Be careful what you wish for.” It’s true. I used to wish, pray and beg for patience. And seemingly I get tested more and more frequently in the patience department. So now that I’m forty-fi*COUGH……COUGH….* ahem, TWENTY-NINE, I realize that patience is not some virtue you just sort of “come into.” It is earned/learned behavior. And every time you ask for it, the patience you already have that you think isn’t enough is going to be tested. And so it goes.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m going to complain about my teenagers again, right? You would be WRONG. (Oooh….burn.) I am actually being tested frequently by a rather passive-aggressive neighbor. She is a bigot. She will not speak to me and has gone so far as to scream as though being murdered when she found me walking across the lawn to her to warn her that there were reports of a man attempting to kidnap girls in our area. (I wear a hijab/head scarf. I guess this means I’m a terrorist plotting to kill her? Whatever.) She has instructed her kids/grandkids not to speak to us or play with my kids. (My kids are okay with this.) But then she used to send them over to our yard to drive their bikes, skates, or wagons down OUR driveway because theirs is too full of the six or seven vehicles that they own. I didn’t say anything at first because they’re pretty young (6th grade and down.) But when I walked past and said, “Hi, girls,” and then heard only chirping crickets, I stopped. I turned around and asked, “You guys don’t ever talk to us, do you?” And the oldest girl just shook her head no. And I asked, “Did we do something bad or something to upset you?” And she shook her head no again. And I just said, “I didn’t think so.”
It is clear that she is following her mom’s orders. So then I thought about it and I said, “Well, you guys don’t talk to or play with my kids and it’s rude not to answer. So you cannot play in our driveway or yard anymore.” The youngest one asked the older in Spanish, “What did she say?” but the older one just stood there with her mouth open. So I answered the youngest one, “No pueden jugar aqui. Ven a jugar en su propio camino.” Then the oldest REALLY didn’t know what to do except tell the others to come on back into their own yard.
Now the woman sends her 20 yr old to park his car on the street in front of my house exactly where we put the recycling bin and garbage bags each Wednesday and Saturday. I know that it’s not a coincidence. They ONLY park it there on Tuesday nights/Wednesday mornings and Friday nights/Saturday mornings. So I just walk about 4 extra steps past the car and put the recycling bin and put the garbage bags on the other side of the driveway next to their unlicensed/uninsured landscaping trailer that is perpetually full of tree stumps, leaves, equipment and junk and perpetually parked right at the edge of our driveway.
The thing about it is, I don’t think they actually understand that I’ve had far shittier neighbors than they. I had neighbors who lived upstairs from me and would dump trash, pour water, sweep cat pee and bleach onto my clean laundry or beat their dirty rugs over my head as I hung clothes to dry.
And I call on my religion to guide me. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was instructed by God through the angel, Gabriel (Jibril) to treat his neighbors well.*
*Mujahid reported that a sheep was slaughtered for ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr. He asked his slave, ‘Have you given any to our Jewish neighbour? Have you given any to our Jewish neighbour? I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘Jibril kept on recommending that I treat my neighbours well until I thought that he would order me to treat them as my heirs.'” [Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari]*
And if picking up trash that my neighbors throw into my yard or moving my recycling bin down a few more feet so that they can attempt to annoy me is my test in patience, then I can pass it. For crying out loud, I’ve got 5 teenagers. This is a walk in the park.