I first subconsciously noticed something was up around mid-January. Things seems quiet, too quiet. So I started paying attention and as the first of February came by, I was pretty sure something was up. I kept watch until last week when I decided to search social media sites for word on the situation and though I still have nothing concrete, I more certain than now that something has happened to my neighbors.
Like nature which tends to balance things, so too is my neighborhood. On one side of me is the retired Lawn Nazi who spends his days at home preening his lawn to magazine cover worthiness. I rarely see him go anywhere by car. On the other side of me are the Smith family who are lucky to cut their grass more than a handful of times of years and when they do, you could literally bale the debris. An ice storm that hit three years ago knocked a huge branch down in the middle of their lawn and I've been watching it slowly decay into the ground ever since. The Smith, or at least Mrs. Smith is the uber helicopter parent. On any given evening, I could see her SUV enter or leave her driveway every ten or fifteen minutes with a child(s) going this way or that. I would keep count every now and then and it wasn't unusual for me to see the SUV exiting or arriving two dozen times on a typical weekday evening between 4:30 and 9:00. On weekends, the counts soared much higher. Mr. Smith on the other hand, would leave to work in the morning, come back in the evening and that was usually all I saw of him except for the occasional trip with a child, they have four, when I presume Mrs. Smith couldn't schedule them all in.
It was almost exhausting to watch their daily lives unfold next to mine but over the years I guess I kind of got used to it which is why when I had the thought that I hadn't seen their SUV leave the driveway for several days, I wasn't quite sure if I was just so used to it happening that I wasn't seeing it happen. But after a couple weeks of paying attention, I would just see Mr. Smith driving home from work in the SUV, normally driven by Mrs. Smith, parking it and going inside for the rest of the evening. Mr. Smith leaves for work well before I do so I rarely catch him leaving for work. The car that Mr. Smith normally drove never appeared at all.
Mrs. Smith works for the school across the street, yet another amazing thing since she was always driving everywhere, and so my first thought was that maybe she had lost her job and had to get another one farther away. That would explain why I hadn't seen any of the kids, ages 11 to 17, either. It also might explain why I didn't see Mrs. Smith's parents, they were evidently quite the helicopter parents in their day too, because they were always over at the Smith house in their mini-van also shuttling kids too and fro. But after seeing Mr. Smith's SUV parked outside all weekend with no sign of mom, grandparents or kids, I began to think something bigger, perhaps more tragic had happened.
On my way to and from work, a route that takes me by the parent's home of Mrs. Smith, I started paying attention to see if Mrs. Smith and the kids were there. I haven't seen any signs of that in the couple weeks I've been rubbernecking on my way by but I have noticed that their mini-van is sitting in the driveway more often as opposed to shuttling grandkids around. So I finally decided to take it to the next level and check social media sites for clues. The kids all had them but they were a bust for information. Mr. Smith also had one but it looked like it hadn't been visited awhile. Mrs. Smith had one too and it was active and mixed throughout the daily helicopter posts were a few quotes that I found telling.
When it hurts to look back, when you're scared to look ahead, you can look beside you...and your best friend will be there!
Those have made me suspect that Mr. and Mrs. Smith are separated and perhaps thinking of the big 'D'. It is a shame but I guess not something that really surprises me. Despite all the helicoptering, I can't think of a single time when I have seen them together. It is mostly Mrs. Smith and the brood and occasionally Mr. Smith and the brood but never everyone at once. Evidently Mr. Smith has the house and SUV and Mrs. Smith has the children and the kids and is living somewhere else. She may have gotten a different car because I've seen one new to me come several times over the last couple weeks, early in the morning after Mr. Smith has already left and before I have left. It idles out in the driveway while the person goes inside and after awhile comes out with a garbage bag or two, puts them in the trunk and leave. All this might also explain why their Christmas tree is still up in their living room, clearly visible front our great room window.
Such a shame. The only real bright side to all this is that I will probably get a touch more reading done in the evenings when I'm not glancing up every time one of the Smith's drive by down their driveway. I've also thought it would be nice to buy their house and property which extends behind my own to expand my own person fiefdom after removing their house. But since I'm in the process of selling mine, I don't think it would be wise, should it come on the market in the future.