Thirteen Things Thursday: Good Fences

Good fences make good neighbors

-“The Mending Wall” by Robert Frost

Philip likes to throw things over the fence.

It doesn’t matter what it is. He’ll throw balls, toys and clumps of dirt, weeds, sticks, trash and rocks.  He really loves to do this at his grandparents’ house, too. That and toss balls into the tall shrubs. On purpose.

I love have a fenced-in yard. I can take both boy and dog to the backyard to play. When the high temperatures broke on Sunday, I spent several hours outside with the pair. I lounged in a chair reading a book in the shade, Roscoe stretched out in the sun and Philip played. In addition to digging in his sandbox, climbing on his swing set and exploring the yard, Philip threw objects over the fence.

We can access our backyard either from a gate on the western side of the yard or from a rarely used door in the stairwell that leads to our basement. Unfortunately, Philip throws items over the eastern side of our fence into the yard that is opposite the gate. To retrieve a given object, we have to walk all the way around the house and trespass into the neighbor’s yard.

When it comes time to mow their yard, our neighbors usually return items. However, it’s not long before Philip is proudly lobbing a given item back over, watching it arc over the fence.  Now that the neighbors have a pool, Philip thinks it is the perfect target for his throwing escapades.

I try to stop him, but he is so fast I’m not even close as the item sails through the air. I want him to have toys to play with in the yard, but it gets discouraging with how quickly they depart. I’d really like to work on kicking and catching, but balls are Philip’s favorite items to toss over the fence.

Over the last week, I saw the following items that once belonged to us now residing in the neighbor’s yard:

The basketball, star and pin wheel. You can see the target, er, pool in the background

  1. The stuffed star that Philip just got on Saturday as a prize from the summer reading program. This was temporarily stuck in a tree along the northern side of the fence, but I managed to retrieve it. And then Philip threw it over the eastern side.
  2. A basketball. This was a gift from my dad’s cousin who lives a block away. He gave it to Philip when we walked past his house one afternoon last summer. It is almost always in the neighbor’s yard. I told the neighbor’s son he could keep it, but they kindly throw it back over. The white basketball in the picture was placed there the next day by my neighbor’s grandson. I guess he likes things to be grouped together, just like Philip.
  3. A pin wheel.  I was really hopeful that we’d keep this one in the backyard. Philip had such a great time playing with it when I filled up his pool on Saturday.

    A “Cars” cup leftover from Philip’s third birthday party and a tennis ball that Roscoe never had a chance to chase.

  4. A brown tennis ball that was supposed to be for Roscoe.
  5. A “Cars” paper cup. This is a pool toy gone rogue. Before tossing it over, Philip was also using it in his sandbox. The week before, a “Cars” paper plate also ended up on the neighbor’s side of the fence. I think a recent storm blew the plate away. Along with our bag of recycling.

    The pipe cleaner and dog toy

  6. A blue rubber bone. Either Roscoe or Philip had unearthed this dog toy from a corner of the yard shortly after we moved in. I hope the neighbor’s dog is enjoying it.
  7. A blue pipe cleaner. I didn’t even know that was outside until I took this picture.
  8. A rattle. I brought this out as a pool toy last summer. It’s in a spot of our neighbor’s yard that doesn’t get mowed which is why I think they haven’t tossed it back.

    The chalk and plastic tub

  9. A piece of yellow chalk. Philip drew two circles on the pavement and then tried to use the chalk to draw in the dirt. And then he tossed it over the fence. I don’t know why this surprised me.
  10. A clear plastic storage tub. This was supposed to be for use in the pool. On the plus side, we acquired a red plastic bucket from the neighbor that serves the same purpose. I still can’t fathom how it ended up in our yard. I’m not too concerned. Philip is bound to toss it back soon.

11. Half of a green plastic Easter egg. The other half is in the brush pile behind the back fence. I think I saw half of a blue egg back there, too.

12. A small plastic shovel for the sand box. I saw the handle sticking out from under the neighbor’s storage barn.

13. My sanity. I don’t know why Philip does this. I’m sure it is sensory related. He either enjoys the visual aspect of watching the items in the air or likes the way throwing things makes him feel. Since I don’t know why Philip throws things, I also don’t know when he will do them. On Tuesday, I had stalked Philip around the backyard as he played with the bubble gun. I was worried that, at any minute, Philip would get bored and toss the gun over the fence. I was quite relieved when he set it on the ground.

I guess I don’t have to understand. At least my sense of humor and patience have stayed on our side of the fence.

6 thoughts on “Thirteen Things Thursday: Good Fences

  1. That’s really interesting re: the tossing of stuff but *pats on back* re: your sanity. I would guess its a sensory thing. I was told that its best to replace the behaviour with something you would like him to do. He wants to throw…maybe some sort of improvised target, basketball hoop for kiddies….

    If it helps at all my son at 2 used to lob toys in the house for no apparent reason. Big toys even…trucks…cause and effect or to release energy or see the motion you pick. He also used to love tossing blocks or other small toys off the second floor landing and watch them fall down the stairs and laugh. I like you thought my sanity would go first.

    In the end he out grew this behaviour….at my son’s school one of the teachers said that 2 its typical behaviour to toss anything and everything but for ASD kids get repetitive and obsessive which makes it seem worse or drive us crazy. I hope this helps you get through this tossing period:)


  2. Colin does the same thing! It caused issues with one neighbor when he was throwing rocks over the fence into his yard. Not good!

    During a recent storm, we had some really high winds…and suddenly…a lot of old dog toys and balls, etc, in our yard! They’d been ON THE ROOF! I knew Colin had a penchant for tossing things up there, but I didn’t realize just how bad it had gotten. He’s 8 and the compulsion still hits him more often than I’d like. He finally stopped doing it in the house, though, which is a relief. For the longest time, he used to toss things on top of the entertainment center. This usually happened when there was a squabble over a toy with his brothers. I think it was his version of “If I can’t have it, no one can!”

    We definitely have to keep our sense of humor and patience, but I know it’s difficult at times!


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