There's a family on our street who moved here not all that long ago. We've only started to get to know them since their oldest child started school this year. They're nice people, but their religious and political beliefs are as opposed to ours as it is possible to get. For the few years they'll live here while the husband focuses on this particular stage of his career, we'll talk with them superficially at the bus stop or at neighborhood gatherings, but it will be impossible for a deeper friendship to develop as their beliefs are offensive to us, just as ours are to them.
This family has a greater number of children than we do and they are expecting a baby next month. I feel pretty confident that the mother is going to ask me for occasional help after the baby arrives, since we're walking there anyway. The mother hasn't said she'll be needing help, but as she can sometimes barely get her little ones to the bus stop in the afternoons to pick up the eldest and as she has already asked me on occasion to walk her child to school or deliver him from the bus stop, I can guess what is coming.
Herein lies my dilemma: While I have been known to be a helpful neighbor in the past, this possible aid is not something I want to give. I know this is not nice of me, but it's the truth and I am nothing if not truthful on this blog. This family has a very strong support network within their church, so I'm not at all worried that the mother will be alone in the house all day with small children and a baby while her husband works long hours. I know that her fellow church ladies will bring meals and offer childcare and will generally be supportive.
As for why I am so resistant to being helpful, I offer no good defense. When Pete and I walk the girls to school in the morning, that's our special time with them. He walks with one girl and I walk with the other. We talk about whatever is on that child's mind. We each focus on the child whose hand we're holding and really listen to what she's saying. Adding our neighbor's child to the mix spoils our routine. That alone is not a deal breaker in my mind; the other part of it is that we have walked this child to school a few times and it's not enjoyable. He's a nice boy, but he's much slower than we are and every single time he has complained about either an imaginary injury, being tired, or the cold weather. I really don't feel like dealing with this.
Last week, as we walked by this family's house on our way to school, the mother stuck her head out the door and asked if we could walk her son to school that day. It was cold and one of her children was sick and she simply didn't feel like going to the bus stop even though it's her damn job to make sure her child gets to school on a daily basis. We walked the boy to school, but I was pretty resentful about it. If we are asked in the next few months to walk this extra child to school, I'm sure it will be at the very last moment when we cannot easily refuse and I'm going to be pissed.
So I've been pondering this, wondering if there's any way I can deal with this nicely but on my terms. Or, should I suck it up and be the bigger person and just be helpful?