Next door neighbours are the bane of a frazzled mother's existence. They know things. They hear us at our worst, see our yards when we haven't frantically tidied them for visitors, count our weeds over the fence. They know how often we wash, when we break the sprinkler ban, when we haven't bothered cleaning out the chook pen.
They see us ambling out to the wheelie bin at noon in our pyjamas, hanging more than the washing out when we go outside with no bra on, they watch our clothes languish on the clothes line for nearly a week at a time before being bought in to make way for the next week's worth of banked up dirty laundry.
They hear our children playing unsupervised in the front yard, with just the occasional token glance out the window to make sure all heads are accounted for. They are the invisible witnesses to our outbursts at husband and children, and are the only others to hear us screech in shrill voices til our throats hurt. (I said don't YELL!!) Keenly observant neighbours also know how often we feed our children takeaway by examining the contents of our recycling.
In summer it's worse. We have our windows open. They hear the things we can usually hide behind closed doors.
Our neighbours are an elderly Romanian couple. They spend alot of time weeding their lawn, which I find daunting, as my lawn gets about as much attention as the hair on my legs. (Fortunately, I can hide my legs under some trousers. I don't have this option with the lawn, although my children try their best to hide it under all their toys.) Our neighbours speak very little English, so aside from a smile and a nod, we don't interact with them very much. This suits me fine, because, as I said, neighbours know things. Its very hard to make friendly small talk with someone who has heard you loudly threaten to sell your children on eBay.
Now that summer has hit, we leave our bedroom and ensuite windows open. We don't have airconditioning in our bedroom and I don't sleep too well when it is hot. For this reason I also sleep undressed. When The Boy wakes up, I turn the ensuite light on, stumble out to the kitchen to make a bottle then feed him in bed, before changing his nappy on the changetable in the ensuite. The Husband doesn't seem to mind me wandering around naked, and who can be bothered dressing in the middle of the night just to feed a squalling baby?
Every time I got up and turned the light on, I would hear a strange noise, a high-pitched creak. I assumed it was some kind of nocturnal frog or night-bird, and thought nothing of it until I began hearing it during the day as well. It occurred to me that I only ever heard it on that side of the house, and wondered if we had a nest somewhere.
Until, one night, I heard the creak as I sat down on the toilet.... immediately followed by the elderly Romanian lady next door yelling at her husband what I can only assume translates roughly to "Stop perving on that woman next door!!" The creak came again, followed by a thud as their screen door slammed shut.
So. Apparently my neighbours also know what I look like naked.
I tried to include a picture in this post, but unfortunately doing a Google image search for "dirty old man" gave me far more than I bargained for.