Prefer More Privacy

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
For years I’ve let my neighbors use our pool/spa facilities, by invite
when we’re home and freely when we go on vacation. We’re about to
take an extended trip and have decided we don’t want so many people
traipsing in and out of our home and grounds while we are gone.
That’s especially true now (compared to the past) because their kids
are teenagers. When I told them that we planned to drain it and lock
everything, they acted like we were grinches. They offered to pay for
maintenance and even rental. How can I say a No that will stick? When
we come back, we’d prefer to see less, not more, of them, but we’d
like good relations.
Prefer More Privacy

Dear More Privacy:
I suspect a No that sticks will stick for a while. The old adage “good
fences make good neighbors” is not always true but in your case a
better sense of boundaries will need to be established. That you’re
leaving will make things easier, because it gives time for the new
regimen to set in. For the short run, say your insurer has made
draining and locking a requirement of continued coverage during a
prolonged absence. Say it’s not an issue of money but of liability and
safety. Also you might consider some signage. Actually speaking to
your insurer might be a good thing to do. You don’t mention whether
you’re using a house sitter or if you have some sort of security service.
Either or both might be relevant.

For the long run, when you get back tell your neighbors you’re going
to invite people over when you’re in the mood for company and for
parties. Also that you’re going to try and lower the volume on visitors.
You can say you’re happy to be neighborly on all other scales of
measurement, but that you need to recalibrate this one. Then invite
them over for supper and a pool party and do your best to find a new