My Neighbor Was Ready To Use His Shotgun—Then, His Six-Year-Old Daughter Spoke Up
Sometimes being good neighbors takes a little sweat and a child’s wisdom.
Cindy Sarlo/Country Magazine
The pancakes were on the table, and our little family of three was about to dive into breakfast. As I poured maple syrup over my pancakes, our 2-year-old daughter, Jean, leapt from her chair.
“Mama, Mama … Pigs!” she yelled, making oinking noises in her little girl’s voice. She pointed out the window to our wooded backyard.
Now I leapt from my chair. In anger I slammed down my fork and grabbed the truck keys.
“Wait for me,” my husband, Mark, bellowed as he wrestled with his boots and jumped up to follow me out the door.
“Stay on the porch,” I told Jean, as Mark and I hopped in the pickup and drove it recklessly around the yard. We honked and screamed as we chased the pigs off our property for what must have been the 10th time that summer.
Photo by Kristin Baczynski/Country Magazine
Our neighbors had rented a small pigpen to some old family friends so they could keep pigs. The friends didn’t do a good job with the upkeep of the pen, so the pigs kept escaping and vandalizing not only our garden and yard but also our neighbors.’ We called the owners of the pigs several times, but the man was old, and it was hard for him to get out to the pigpen to make repairs. We called the police but were told nothing could be done.
It was a frustrating situation for all of us who lived on that dirt road.
“That’s it! I’ve had enough!” I said. “I’m heading to the neighbors’ to come up with a plan to make this craziness end.”
Mark, Jean, and I drove to Angie’s and William’s place. They were in the middle of breakfast when we knocked on their screen door.
“Come on in,” William called out.
“The pigs are out again,” I huffed.
William got up from his breakfast and said, “I’ve had just about enough of them. I reckon it’s time to get out the shotguns and take care of this nonsense ourselves.”
“No!” cried Zora, the couple’s six-year-old daughter. “It’s not the pigs’ fault. Can’t we just fix the pen so they don’t escape anymore?”
Silence. We had been so full of anger and finger-pointing. We had forgotten that it was within our power to fix the problem with a little sweat and compassion.
The anger boiling inside me slowed to a simmer, and then it was gone. I knelt down to talk to her.
“Zora, we will fix the pen. Thank you for reminding us that violence is not a solution.” She beamed.
Later that day, we went down to the pen and repaired the broken gate. It took several hours of our time and several dollars of our hard-earned money, but the day was beautiful and the kids frolicked in the nearby hay field.
We never told the owner of the pigs what we had done, but a few months later, the ailing old man found himself in better health. He stopped by to apologize for the chaos his pigs caused.
Later that evening, we invited the neighbors over for dinner and again thanked Zora for coming up with a simple solution to the pig problem. The kids laughed as we feasted and celebrated an act of compassion. Our bellies were full, and so were our hearts.