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Oh dear. The first real problem with our neighbours...what to do?

(122 Posts)
FlightAttendent Wed 27-Aug-08 12:09:23

Last month we moved into a lovely flat, which is next door to a residential thingy for patients discharged from the local mental hospital.

I have a good friend who works as an OT and told me it is fine - they carefully decide who to place there as it is in a residential area. Most of the patients are fairly stable as far as he knows, etc etc.

We've not had any trouble at all, I was feeling confident. But this morning, ds's 1&2 were out in our garden alone, while I emailed my mother back - ds1 was calling me in a silly way, 'maaar-my' over and over again, not loudly, because he wanted me to go out and play with him - I went to the window and said I would be out in 5 minutes.

He went back to the climbing frame and sat there calling some more. Not in distress, just repeatedly in a daft way.

I went to go out a minute later, to hear a low voice over the wall from next door - saying 'alright ds1?' (he knew his name hmm)
Ds1 shyly smiled back and nodded.
Voice said 'what about the daughter, is she alright?' hmm

Ds1 nodded again, glanced at me - I went out and the man said 'It's only me - I thought he might need help or something'. I said, 'No, thanks he's fine, I was just there (pointing to door)'
He said' what about your daughter, haven't you got a daughter over there?'
He obv meant ds2, who was perfectly alright and quiet.
I said 'No, that's my other son, he is fine'

The man was reluctant to let it drop but eventually wandered off.

I felt horrible, it was intrusive, unnecessary, and the worst thing (I shouldn't care probably) was that Ds1 was trouserless in every sense blush

I think he should be allowed to play in his own garden without worrying about this stuff but have now had to have a word, which makes me sad.

I can't help feeling upset that this person should be looking over our wall and speaking to my children unless they are friends and I have introduced them.

Especially as I was actually speaking to Ds1 loudly, asking him to come in and get his trousers on, at the same time as the man was insistently trying to have a conversation with him. He could obv hear me shouting but carried on acting as though I was not there and my children somehow warranted his attention.

Sorry to rant but am not sure how to prevent this happening again, unless the hedge we are putting in grows 10 times faster than it is likely to...there is already a decent wall but this doesn't appear to provide sufficient privacy.

FlightAttendent Wed 27-Aug-08 12:11:48

Actually I think I possibly am being unreasonable - he probably just wanted to help. But I am really uneasy that he knows my child's name.

tiredemma Wed 27-Aug-08 12:15:28

What is the actual problem? That he was talking to your child?

bethoo Wed 27-Aug-08 12:16:11

maybe your ds has already introduced himself when you were not aware?
though you may be uneasy about this i dont think there is much you can do, as long as you are always around to keep an eye on the kiddies i am sure there is nothing to worry about.
thoug hi can understand why you were freaked.

BlingLovin Wed 27-Aug-08 12:16:25

FlightAttendent, I think I can sympathise. I lived in a flat where the woman downstairs had a teenage son who somehow always managed to be that little bit inappropriate - eg whenever DP wasn't there he'd come upstairs and ask me for a light for his cigarette, late at night, but miraculously not when DP was there or similar. I eventually worked out he meant well, had no negative intentions, just didn't really understand how to be friendly in an appropriate way.

I know, probably doesn't really help but hopefully makes you feel less silly for feeling a little strange? it took me a long time before I felt comfortable with this boy.

TheCrackFox Wed 27-Aug-08 12:16:46

I have a bail hostel at the end of the road and TBH it makes me very uneasy.

You are being a tad unreasonable but then so am I.

tiredemma Wed 27-Aug-08 12:18:37

A bail hostel is not really comparible with a house for those trying to be rehabiliated after a spell in a mental hospital is it? or is it?

TheProvincialLady Wed 27-Aug-08 12:21:49

If you didn't know that the man has mental problems would you be as worried? It was just a neighbour chatting over the fence after all.

I think to be honest your sons upset this man and he was worried about them and found the crying disturbing. What seems like normal childish moaning and being silly to you and me could sound to someone who is not well like real anguish (terrible sentence but YKWIM). Unless you get a lot of this I would not worry a bit. If it makes you happy you could have a chat with your DC about what is appropriate conversation between a virtual stranger and a child, and when to tell mummy etc. I'm sure it will be finesmile

TheCrackFox Wed 27-Aug-08 12:23:54

Tiredemma ,not really comparable but a lot of the residents in there ended up in prison because of mental problems. There is a shortage of appropriate care for people with mental problems, they slip through the net and end up in prison. It is actually quite upsetting and the police cannot tell us who is resident there.

FlightAttendent Wed 27-Aug-08 12:28:26

Hi - thanks for the replies.

Yes, I would still feel uneasy - possibly moreso - if I hadn't known the man to have MH issues. His behaviour toward me was really intrusive and strange. I was shouting/calling to my child from the back door, and the man could hear this but chose to ignore the fact was obv in control and my children were obviously Ok, in order to keep talking to my son.

That's what upset me - and the fact that he still wouldn't let it drop once I had politely reassured him.

I would find this odd in anyone but yes, I am more concerned that it was due to a lack of a normal regard for privacy which I feel was evident.

Please don't slate me for being prejudiced against those with mental health problems. I have been on the receiving end of treatment myself, not generally psychiatric though.

I believe many of those next door have schizophrenia or some other form of psychosis, and I do not know the extent of these nor how appropriate it might be for my son to have been speaking to them.

I am sure we are not at risk of anything too sinister but tbh it is the lack of privacy that worries me.

Bumdiddley Wed 27-Aug-08 12:28:44

I think YABU.

He probably doesn't have a job and is bored.

He probably listens to your dss playing all day long and hears them calling each other by their names.

I can sympathise as ds is always bagless in the garden, but, people with or recovering from mental illness are not all axe wielding kiddy fiddlers.

Shoegazer Wed 27-Aug-08 12:29:27

YANBU as such, I think that often those who have certain mental health problems, particularly those with long standing issues which mean they need residential care, can be quite clumsy socially. Add to that the dulling effect of some medications and they can across as quite "strange" in their interactions with others. It is possible that he was being very socially clumsy but wasn't being a threat or unfriendly so to speak. The fact that he didn't scarper when you approached but identified himself and continued to interact with you in an equally stilted way would suggest this too.

However, you have a right to privacy in your own garden regardless of who lives next door so no he shouldn't be peering over your wall.

FlightAttendent Wed 27-Aug-08 12:29:46

ProvincialLady, I don't think he seemed at all upset. I think he was jsut actign inappropriately as a symptom of his problems, probably.

I hope not to offend anybody. I am feeling vulnerable at th moment and quite low and it got to me more than it should have.

BlingLovin Wed 27-Aug-08 12:31:27

You mentioned you're growing some bushes? What about getting those bamboo instant fences in the meantime? I think you can get them from places like B&Q? Not sure if that's an option? A friend has a couple (you buy them in metre long bits I think) and they're mildly attractive, easy to use etc?

Frankly, while it's not fair to be uncomfortable, your response is entirely understandable. I knew I wasn't being fair to that boy (I probably should mention that he went to a special school for children with problems but I didn't know the details, nor did I want to pry), but it didn't change the fact that when I was at home alone, at 11pm, it made me uncomfortable when he turned up at my door.

FlightAttendent Wed 27-Aug-08 12:31:48

'people with or recovering from mental illness are not all axe wielding kiddy fiddlers. '

No, I know that. I was hoping that this wouldn't be interpreted as my thinking in that way. sad

I just feel upset at the interference. The trouser issue is another one - I was hoping people wouldn't be actively peering over the wall into our garden - 'kiddy fiddlers' or not, ds has a right to privacy.

stitch Wed 27-Aug-08 12:34:05

sweet jesus, is the oposter fo rreal?
her neighbour hears what he thinks is a child indistress. he comes over to check the child is ok, and she complains about it? angry i'm very glad i am not her neighbour.

perhaps she would prefer josef fritz's neighbours? you know the ones who didnt bother noticing he had his dd locke dup in the basement. where he bought extra groceries, etc etc etc
or what about that woman who was allowing her kids to be canibalised? at least her neighbour was concnerned enough to shop her.

stitch Wed 27-Aug-08 12:36:27

if you dont want other people looking at your sons genitalia, then make sure he knows to keep it covered.
even aged three they can be taught this. should you want to. but if youare happy for them to be observed in their birtday suit, then dont bother teaching them to get dressed.

angry your post has made me seriously over react. (yes, i know i am over reacting) but if youwant to live in a bubble, then please go do so. stop this whinging about other humans.

almostblue Wed 27-Aug-08 12:38:47

I expect the op is quite pleased you're not her neighbour too, stitch.

<hopes fervently stitch isn't own neighbour, either>

FlightAttendent Wed 27-Aug-08 12:43:30

God it's kicked off. Sorry all. Stitch you're being utterly ridiculous.

My child was never at any point in distress.

Bumdiddley Wed 27-Aug-08 12:45:45

FlightAttendant - You may be able to ignore your child saying maaarmy is a whiny voice, over and over, but your neighbour obviously can't.

If our next dooor neighbour's children did this I would have a look too!

He may not have heard you

CrushWithEyeliner Wed 27-Aug-08 12:46:56

sitch that was totally out of line

I actually don't think YABU personally and I would have freaked that he knew my child's name.

DustyTV Wed 27-Aug-08 12:48:26

No need to be so harsh stitch. If flight's DS likes going comando he is perfectly within his rights to do so in the privacy of his own garden and houldn't have to worry about anyone looking in.

I think flight knows that on some level she is being slightly unreasonable, but she still has a valid concern.

Flight I can see what you are saying, I too would be a bit hmm if a complete starnger was talikng to my DC and not letting it 'drop' after I had reassured that person that my DC were fine.

FlightAttendent Wed 27-Aug-08 12:53:16

Thanks - I know I am being a bit oversensitive so please accept my apologies if I came across as either prejudiced or overreacting.

I am just feeling low. The man did no harm but I would prefer people not to look over our wall if possible as it makes me feel bad.

Particularly if they will not accept my reassurance that my children are fine.

It's a large garden, ds was at the top of it and not calling particularly loudly. I would think this extremely normal if I heard it from someone else's child.

I am going hedge shopping. smile

2beornot2be Wed 27-Aug-08 12:53:52

I would be a bit freaked out to be fair regardless if they were from a mental hospital or not. If its a neighbour u have never spoken to and all of sudden they are calling your Son by name and asking about your DD I don't think that's appropriate.I would never speak to my neighbours kids unless I knew them or I heard they were very distressed in which I would knock on the front door and try and speak to the parent's.

I would try and get some kind of bigger fence just for your DC's safety and explain to your Dc's even if someone knows your name if you don't know them they are still strangers and not to speak to strangers without an adult the trust with them.

DustyTV Wed 27-Aug-08 12:56:35

Flight, I don't think that you are being oversensitive or prejudiced at all. You have a valid concern. I would too be really quite freaked uot that someone who was a stranger to me knew my childs name.

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