The parents of three Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que., children say they are “really troubled” by an anonymous letter left in their mailbox last Friday that says neighbours "are exasperated by the screams of your children."
Sarah Cloutier says her kids aren’t perfect and scream from time to time outside, but they mostly play like normal kids.
Cloutier’s daughter Laurence, 7, has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and said it’s believed her four-year-old son Olivier also has the disorder.
Her eldest son, nine-year-old Antoine, doesn't have ADHD.
The letter was penned by a single author but alleged “many” neighbours found the children spend most of their time outdoors screaming and yelling.
“Many of us are exasperated by the screams of your children. We even think your children can only express themselves by yelling and don’t know how to talk,” the letter reads.
It said the situation was becoming "unliveable."
Doing their best
The letter was a blow to Cloutier and her husband, Guy Doré, who, she said, are doing their best as parents.
Cloutier said she cried when she first read it.
“I thought, 'Everybody hates us. They hate our kids.' It was sad,” she told CBC News.
Cloutier ultimately found the letter disrespectful.
“For someone who doesn’t know us to judge us like that and the quality of our parenting? As a society, we need to respect each other and be able to talk with each other without sending a hurtful letter like that to someone you don’t really know,” she said.
Cloutier and Doré went around the neighbourhood and met with all the residents within earshot of their house.
They spoke with 10 neighbours in total, but nobody confessed to writing or knowing about the letter.
“We thought at first that by meeting everybody that we would meet the person who wrote it. Sadly, we can’t say,” she said.
However, the meetings did leave Cloutier and Doré with a good feeling about many of their neighbours, some of whom cried while reading the letter.
“It was heartwarming to see how nice they were with us. We mostly feel really lucky to have such good neighbours,” she said.
Cloutier is trying to turn the experience into a positive one for her family.
She has used the letter to remind her kids to be respectful of their neighbours, and as an example of how not to deal with a problem.
“If you don’t know people, you can’t judge them,” she said.
However, she said, it's difficult to put the letter out of their heads when they're outside playing with the kids.
“My husband was playing Frisbee in the front on the weekend and when he came back inside, he said it’s sad because now I feel like someone’s watching us,” she said.