Neigh­bor’s kids get too chummy

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Movies - Amy Dick­in­son Read­ers can send email to [email protected]­dick­in­son.com or let­ters to “Ask Amy” P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY, 13068.

Dear Amy: We have new neigh­bors. We re­ally like them, but lately they seem to be mak­ing them­selves too com­fort­able in our home.

They will drop by while we are hav­ing din­ner, some­times walk­ing right into our house, and when their daugh­ter looks at the din­ner my girls are eat­ing, she will say that she wants some. Then the friend will start eat­ing off of their plates, while the par­ents stand there!

An­other time they came over and when I took my girls to the bath­room, I came back to find that the three pieces of chicken I had left on my counter on a cov­ered plate were be­ing eaten by the mother and her two girls — with no apol­ogy, and no ask­ing be­fore­hand!

The fa­ther opens our cup­board to help him­self to what­ever snacks he or his kids want. When we are at their house, their pantry is off-lim­its.

Amy, we aren’t strapped for money and while we don’t mind shar­ing, we don’t like this be­hav­ior. We don’t think they have is­sues with money ei­ther.

We tried mak­ing hu­mor­ous com­ments that this isn’t ac­cept­able, hop­ing they would take the hint — to no avail.

We in­stalled a cam­era door­bell so we can stop them from walk­ing in at din­ner­time. Do we need to in­stall locks on our pantry? What do we say to set bound­aries with­out com­pro­mis­ing this friend­ship? — At a Loss

Dear At a Loss: When I was a kid, my mother came down the stairs one morn­ing to find a neigh­bor, un­in­vited, drink­ing cof­fee at the kitchen ta­ble.

I’m not cer­tain how my mother re­acted — but she made sure it was a one-time oc­cur­rence.

In your case, merely re­act­ing nat­u­rally might have de­liv­ered the mes­sage you are strug­gling with now.

For in­stance, when you were sur­prised by your neigh­bors scarf­ing your chicken. You might have said, “Oh no ! That chicken was for our din­ner to­mor­row.”

At this point, you will have to say (to the par­ents), “I’ve tried hint­ing about it and jok­ing about it, but now I’ll just have to tell you: I re­ally don’t like it when you guys help your­selves to our food with­out ask­ing. I would never do that at your house.”

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