Dear Five Faces: It’s a hot summer where we live and I’m having trouble with a neighbor who has invited herself and her two children over to use our in-ground pool multiple times this summer already. The problem is that her children are poorly behaved; they splash water all over, run around the pool when we’ve specifically told them to walk, and are generally rude. My children just don’t like them. I’m so sorry to be unkind, but it’s not fun for my family when these neighbors are around. I know I’m a Metal/Earth, and I’m not sure about my neighbor, but I need help! Signed: Miffed in Mississippi
Dear Miffed: First, let me assure you that you are not being unkind. If a neighbor is ruining things for your family, they shouldn’t be at your house. I’m sure there must be public or city-sponsored pools nearby that your neighbor could use, so don’t let your Earth get too upset by this issue.
That said, I suspect what’s happening is that your Earth is being affected by your neighbor, who is most likely a Wood. It takes a lot of hutzpah to continually invite yourself and your children over to use someone else’s pool unless a standing invitation has been issued, which it doesn’t sound like you’ve done. The element that has that kind of “make things happen” energy in spades is Wood. So you are likely in a situation where her Wood is over controlling your Earth, creating an out of balance situation for you that is probably very uncomfortable.
However, your Metal will control her Wood, and I think that’s where it will be best for you to focus. Step strongly into the world of Metal where everything is done in an orderly fashion, there are right and wrong ways to behave, and protocol reigns! Short-term, lock your Earth in a closet and let her come out once your Metal has had a serious (but kind! Metals are very kind!) talk with your neighbor. For this talk, there are two ways you can go.
The first is to tell your neighbor the truth. As a Metal, you can be rational and direct in telling her that the behavior of her children is the opposite of what you are trying to teach your children, and for that reason you have to ask that she not invite herself over to your pool anymore. Honesty is always the best approach, but there are two reasons you may not choose to do this, and both have to do with your Earth.
The first is that your Earth, even though locked in the closet, may cave at the thought of possibly hurting someone’s feelings. This is a very real issue for an Earth and must be taken into account. The second reason is that even if you communicate to your neighbor in a kind manner, your Metal will feel controlling to her Wood, plus you will be blocking her from getting what she wants. Both of these could cause an angry outburst from the Wood and create prolonged tension between the families. Again, this will be very hard on your Earth.
If you decide that your Metal can manage things and help your Earth along, I suggest you use the first approach. However, if you just don’t think you can do it (which might indicate that you’re really an Earth/Metal), you can use the “little white lie” tactic, which can also be effective.
Begin by explaining to your neighbor in a gentle, but definite, way that you need to create more private time for your family before your children go back to school. Because of this, your family has agreed to limit the number of non-family people who use the pool. You appreciate her understanding and respect for your family’s wishes. End of discussion. This should do it, but if she still comes over, you will need to stand in a Metal place and, hard as this might be for your Earth, tell her that it isn’t a good time for them to be there and please leave. Hopefully, they will.
What you describe is an awkward situation to address, but if you stand in either the truth or a slightly modified version of what you need, I think you can easily keep her Wood from ruining your family’s pool fun. Good luck!