“Our neighbors' kids crossed the line while pet-sitting for us.”
Dear Annie,We recently moved here and needed to go out of town. I asked the neighbor if either of his sons (a middle schooler and a high school student) would like to feed our cats while we were out of town. The dad said that one of his sons would take care of it. When we arrived home, we discovered that someone had cooked in our home, left the pan in the sink, left the unfinished food in our family room, watched TV (it was on a channel we never watch), drank a beer (it was in the trash can), and drank almost all our cooking wine (really bad wine!!!). A glass from their home was left by our sink.
My husband and I are wondering what to do. I wanted to run over and ask which son I should pay for the pet sitting services, and also return the glass. I wanted to phrase it this way so that in case it was one of the parents and not any of the boys, then I would not have to worry about the alcohol. If it turns out it was one of the children, how do I advise the parent that their son cooked, ate, and drank our alcohol?
In our old neighborhood, first, none of the kids ever helped themselves to anything while pet sitting for us and secondly, if anything had been amiss, I was good enough friends with my neighbors that I could just tell them. I'm not sure what to do here. If I were the parent, I would certainly Want to know what my children were up to, but I'm not sure all parents want to hear those kinds of things. Any advice?
Dear Shocked Neighbor,
I hope you've gotten your house key back! It's really difficult for me to imagine any responsible adult who would do what you described. Frankly, I'm stunned that any middle or high school student would do it either. And to leave such blatant evidence around, well... that's just plain stupid on top of being audacious. Clearly a kid did this and that kid needs to hear from his parents and from you as well that this was absolutely unacceptable behavior. He's got to apologize and make amends.
My suggestion is that you talk to the parents. Tell them that you're appreciative of the care their son took of your cats. And you want to thank the boy and pay him, but there was something else you need to talk about first. Then describe exactly what you discovered when you got home. Afterwards, you might say, "We're feeling a little upset about all this and want to know what you think."
Then LISTEN to what the parents have to say.
Any responsible parent is going to appreciate the information. If for whatever reason, the parent gets defensive then you need to find a new pet sitter.