It’s safe to say that it is one of my greatest fears to get into an altercation with a neighbor about something my kids have done. I’m a mom of two toddler boys who are sweet, wild and energetic all at the same time. I know it’s only a matter of time before they break a window or damage property in their little boy way.
And that’s exactly what happened to a mother of a 3-year-old in the U.K., whose toddler hit a neighbor’s car while opening the car door. Upon first hearing this story, it made me cringe — I could imagine exactly how it was going to go. The kid would cry, the mom would apologize, the neighbors would act passive-aggressive or maybe even threaten legal action if they were extra jerky, but I’m happy to say I was wrong. This story has a total M. Night Shyamalan ending — not that it’s creepy, but there’s a good old bait and switch.
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After the 3-year-old hit the neighbor’s car, his mom rightly decided that honesty was the best policy. She left a note for the neighbors telling them about the accident and offered to pay for damages. In return, she received a detailed invoice with a surprising addition at the bottom.
The kindly neighbors took the time to detail all of the costs for the damage to their vehicle, including repair, repainting, emotional stress and more, totaling at a whopping £1838 (or $2900). But instead of billing this sum, the forgiving neighbors deducted the large amount with a line item that read, “These things happen…”
This mom was so overwhelmed with gratitude that she posted the now-viral invoice to Facebook. The bill went on to say, “NO CHARGE! The only thing we ask is you keep taking our parcels in when we are not here, thanks!”
Can I just say how much I love these people? I consider myself a fairly good parent in that I try to keep my eyes on my kids at all times, and even that proves impossible. I just know I’m going to find myself in a situation like this very soon, where my kids accidentally or on purpose damage another person’s property. I can only hope I encounter neighbors with this kind of grace and humor who remember what it’s like to be a mom of small children — and that I am this kind of good neighbor myself.
Going into this, I’m sure this mother thought she would have to teach her child a valuable lesson: Be honest and face the consequences of your actions, no matter how unpleasant. Thanks to these neighbors, this toddler was taught an even more valuable lesson that very few of us get to experience: Sometimes, people surprise you. Sometimes, people are just good. And more often than not, honesty is rewarded.