Saturday, July 01, 2006

Voyeur

enbathgray
I still use the baby monitor that I received at a baby shower for my first son in the room he shares with his brother. Yes, he's almost 3 and a half, and the younger one is almost two and a half, but I like being able to hear them. Our bedroom on the opposite side of the house via two different sets of stairs: i.e. a long way off. And also, I get to hear the conversations between the two of them that I wouldn't normally be privy to, and that makes me smile.

When Lulu was born, instead of transferring the existing monitor to her nursery, we bought a new set. I really didn't anticipate having to use it for long, and since I was footing the bill, as opposed to the gift-giver at the pre-Critter baby shower, I went cheap. It's basically a POS, but it does the job in a minimal sense of the word: if she's in distress, I can hear her in my bedroom. It does however,do a stellar job of picking up stray noise and interference. Mostly random cb radios and Nextel-type intercom phones.

Several weeks ago, I was ripped from my dreams by hysterical toddler screaming. It is extremely rare for either of my sons to wake in the middle of the night, and so when they do, it's because something is really wrong. I immediately jumped up and ran for the stairs. When I got to the boys' room all was quiet, and they were both sleeping like the proverbial babies. I was thoroughly confused. I then thought that I must have misheard, and that it was Lulu, so I checked on her. She too, was out like a light. As I made my sleepy trek back across the house I had almost convinced myself that I'd dreamed it, when I heard a toddler talking. And then an adult talking. As I neared the kitchen I realized the sound was coming from the second set of receivers for the monitors I keep on the kitchen counter. With the mystery solved, and my mind at ease, I went upstairs, turned down the sound on the receiver in my bedroom, and went to bed.

Ever since that night, we now get crystal-clear reception for these other people who apparently have the same monitor we do. We have overheard the daily arguments between parents and children over clothing choices, the fights between siblings, and the late night drinks of water and eternal bedtime procedure. Since that night 3 weeks ago, I've been awakened in the wee hours 6 times by children not my own. Daddy McAustin and I have had discussions about the late hour at which these kids go to bed, and the frequency that back-talk is tolerated.

I was fairly certain that these were people who lived on the next cul-de-sac over from us. We don't know them, I've just heard of them from a neighbor we have in common, and know that they have two kids roughly the ages of my sons.

Last night, however, it all changed. As I was getting ready to go bed at 11:30, I heard the child and parent talking about the next day, and why the child had to go to sleep. The parent then began singing a song, and the child joined in. At that point, another voice was heard. A very distinctive voice. A voice belonging to someone I know. This was an entirely different family from what I had originally assumed: I know these people. And I never would have guessed that all that went on in their house. You just never know what goes on behind closed doors.

It also made me wonder what they've heard from us on the other end of that airwave. I wonder if they were shocked by what they heard.

I turned off the monitor. I don't think I want to hear anymore.

16 Comments:

Blogger speckledpup said...

great post.

and yeah, you never think about what they're hearing.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Southern Fried Girl said...

Yeah, you just never know what the hell goes on in people's houses.

I'm sure if anyone heard what goes on here without knowing the full story would think we were all nuts.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Kami said...

Ooooh, FREAKY.

10:47 PM  
Blogger TBG said...

That makes you wonder what they can hear in your house!

Interesting!

11:13 PM  
Blogger Mama C said...

We have that problem too. Don't worry. We still use the monitor and my kids are 4 and 5.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Yikes! You turn it off, hon. Who needs to hear how other people are behind closed doors?

Although my mother in law would LOVE to sit and listen to that shit.

1:40 PM  
Blogger The Kept Woman said...

Wow.

Yeah, sometimes I wonder how it would sound listening in to my own house sometimes if I didn't know it was us...

9:03 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Over the years, I've had the problem of picking up other people's phone calls on my phone in various apartments. It's so weird to think about other people listening to you and your personal stuff. I think it's a good idea to turn the monitors off. :)

12:19 PM  
Blogger Lucky Lum said...

Oh shit, I'd be SO busted! But at least I'm honest about the horrible things that come out of my mouth...
"Sophie I hope you have children that are as awful as you are right now."
or
"Get the tampons out of your mouth!"
.....
Now, about that picture up top-
It's gorgeous!!
(please tell me what you did to make it look that way)

7:53 PM  
Blogger Gracie said...

Now that's just freaky...and disturbing.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Sheri & SuZan said...

That would be scary listening into other households.

I did use my baby monitor throughout G2's elementary school years.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Mainline Mom said...

Yep, we pick things up on our monitor all the time. The funniest was when we were staying at my sister's house and heard a child crying, but the cry was just not quite like Nathan's. Then we heard the dad come in and talk to the toddler and realized it was the next door neighbors, who we know, and who have a boy the same age as Nathan. Weird.

4:01 PM  
Blogger TBG said...

I am curious like Lucky how did you get that picture to look like that. Can you share?

12:04 AM  
Blogger Philip said...

You can probably adjust your monitor to another frequency; look on that back, or inside the battery compartment. If that fails, go buy a new one that has multiple bands.

10:53 AM  
Blogger MMC said...

About the photo effect:
I used Photoshop CS2; Image, adjustments, gradient mapping set to a shade of gray on soft stripes in the special effects mode.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Tee said...

I'm so glad I stopped in here and caught this post. What an excellent read.

We had the same issue with our baby monitor when we lived in a townhouse but never heard anything too interesting - We mostly marveled at how long the baby was left to cry and no one going to calm her.

Anyway -this was so interesting. This sounds even better than reality TV - these people didn't even know you were listening - but gah - the realization that you KNOW these people. Kind of not so fun anymore... I would be paranoid about what others had heard from our family, too.

12:17 AM  

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