Today I was sized up, measured and judged
My husband and I started our family life rather backward. We are the typical teen pregnancy statistic. Only difference is we are the exception to the rule. We managed to beat the odds, get married, stay married and have the opportunity to grow up and old together. How freaking rad is that? Pretty rad I’d say but our life is not all moonlight and roses. Far from it. So far from it that in all our years of marriage we have only just bought our first home. The year that our first born is doing his matric and will in all likelihood leave the nest in the not so distant future. But you know what, that’s ok.
Even though we started everything backward, we’ve always had some goals and plans to make it come to fruition. One of those goals was sending our kids to good schools. Check. Our two older kids are at one of the nicer high schools in Cape Town. The school that makes people think that we’re kind of fancy. We own our own car. No monthly repayments to the bank and sleepless nights because of debt. Nada. Check. Once upon a time it was two cars, but since I don’t drive it kind of defeats the purpose so we sold his first car. Obviously we have some debt. We need to keep our credit scores going but it’s basically just for that purpose. Other than that we can go to bed at peace at night knowing that all our belongings are paid for and we don’t have creditors breathing down our necks. Check.
For all the checks we’ve made over the years, we’ve had to make sacrifices and ensure that we had our priorities in order. So in case you thought I was bragging just now, please remember I didn’t buy a house until recently. Not so fancy after all. We’ve had to go without a lot for many years and I do believe that the next few years will be exactly the same. Priorities. Bleh! Trying to give our kids a good living and making sure that they learn from our bad example of how we started our life together. Don’t have sex before marriage and if you do, use contraceptives. Every possible contraception method you can use, use it. Kids, although they’re a blessing, costs money and they’re a heck of a responsibility. Yep, we drill that into our kids heads. Mostly we tell them that sex is a responsibility and not an action to be taking lightly. You need to be emotionally ready before taking the plunge. Buuut as much as I want to tell you about how I communicate sex and other taboo topics with my kids, that’s actually not why I’m writing to you. I also don’t think I should be giving anyone financial advice because I sometimes waste money on frivolous items. I actually want to tell you how I was sized up, measured and judged today.
Like I’ve said, we finally bought our first home. A true blessing that’s come at the perfect time. Brag alert! Not about me or my husband. But God and how amazing He has been to us throughout our journey. Life hasn’t always been kind to us but the past three years have been the best of our lives. I landed my forever job that is a 5 minute drive from home. That’s God. A few weeks ago I got word that my position at work has been made permanent. That’s God. There are so many other things I can mention too but let me not get off topic more than I already have. Our home is being built and I get to see my future in progress on a daily basis. Not that I go check on the building everyday though. My excitement and patience can hold a while longer.
The few times I have gone to check out the progress had me feeling awkward. My new neighbours would peek through their windows and look at us like we’re sketchy. Also, I didn’t really want the neighbours to know who I am just yet. Call me wicked but I want them to sweat and wonder just who and what type of people will be moving into the house on the corner. People often worry about neighbours and truthfully I am worried about who they are too. My current neighbours are an awesome bunch. We look out for each other and have a good relationship. Except for the guy next door who blows his nose so loud I often fear that his brains will come popping out. But hey, we live in peace and harmony so that ok.
This morning we overslept and skipped church so the husband worked on the car a bit. Something about bleeding the breaks… He braai’d Sunday lunch yesterday so I had the whole morning to do nothing. Absolute bliss. When he was done he took the car for a spin and I tagged along. Our final destination before returning home was our new home. I wanted to check progress and take a walk inside. Envision how and where everything would fit. Checking the space outside where our furbaby would roam and dream a few dreams while we were there. It was a divine few minutes. Except that I would have to find/create space for my washing machine that has no space in the house. What a calamity!
All was going well until we heard a hoot outside. The husband went to check and found that he was blocking the way for someone wanting to come into our road. I would have stayed put if I didn’t hear a woman’s voice demanding to know what we were doing there. The husband got in the car to move it and as men generally are, told her to ask me. As I walked out a woman came towards me demanding to know what we were doing there. Shocked at the attitude I said we were looking around. My reply didn’t satisfy her and she again demanded to know. At the same time I wanted to know just who the heck she was to speak to me like that but I kept my calm and gave her the same response but then with the classic Wonder Woman pose I repeated myself while looking her square in the face and said “Well I came to have a look at the progress of MY HOUSE actually.” Do you have any idea how freaking amazing it felt to tell some busybody, who was after all the trespasser, that it was my house? And boy did she feel it when she realised that I was legit. You should hear the husband tell how her face dropped and whole body slumped at the revelation.
Turns out the busybody is going to be my new next door neighbour. Yay! *eyeroll* She immediately started interviewing me wanting to know everything about me. I bet she would have asked me if I prefer to shave or wax if I had given her leeway to do so but I didn’t. I gave her just enough information to satisfy her curiosity and more than enough to make her realize that I am not a kid or exactly the kind of person who welcomes just any type of behaviour. Off course she took one look at my scruffy looking, greased up husband and my outward appearance and already made up her mind about us. Can you believe she said she hoped that we weren’t the partying type? Off course not that there would be a problem because “they” as neighbours will communicate such things to each other but they were a quiet and decent bunch. What. The. Actual? She saw my ripped jeans, my piercings and tattoos and assumed. She sized me up, measured me and judged me without knowing my name. My purple toenails and yellow fingernails may have contributed to the judgement as well. Who knows… Who cares?
For the first time in ages I introduced myself to someone as Mrs Jonkers and not Celeste or CJ. I reached out my hand and gave her my no nonsense business handshake because when I saw the judgement in her face I stopped being CJ. I was now the high school marm that no one dares to mess with. Not even a principal from another school. I was at my castle and I ruled. Damn, my boerboel considers me as his pack leader. I am his alpha so who the hell was this woman? I wanted her to know that my ripped jeans, piercings and tattoos don’t define me. I needed her to understand that I didn’t crave her validation and that she can think what she wanted to but she will not judge me based on what she thought she saw. Which I’m guessing is probably some kind of loose woman.
All the BS aside, I treated my nosy new neighbour with respect and humoured her by answering a few of her questions and volunteering some information of my own that she can use to placate the other communicative neighbours. No, we are not party animals, in fact we are the quiet type that you’ll probably never see us and if you do it will be in the mall or other places we frequent. We have two teens and a tween who are home bodies as well. And if we’re not inside the house then we’re not home. To add insult to injury, if you want to call it that, I added that we’ll probably never see each other because I like keeping to myself. Which is the truth. I am the friendly neighbour but even my current neighbours will ask if I still live here sometimes. I could have added that we have a dog whose size alone scares the pants off people and that Kilo will keep her and any other neighbour away from our door, but I figured that they can wait for that. Can’t give away all my secrets. Not that it is a secret. I don’t enjoy people coming around unannounced. The ones I don’t mind these visits from will always announce their intentions. And guess what? Most of my inner circle has tattoos and probably look like they could be a menace to society if you were to judge them by a little ink on their bodies. My tribe are not what they do for a living. They are kindred souls and heart people. That’s why they’re my tribe.
My mom and dad obviously had a good laugh at our little episode earlier and they’re quite chuffed with the way I handled it. They know their daughter rather well but I am often considered a wild card. Maybe it’s the zero tolerance for BS that I display that makes me seem volatile at times. On the flip side conflict can be managed without arguments. Besides… I don’t RSVP to all arguments or drama that I’m invited to. Life is simpler that way. My school principal often holds his breath too because he knows me rather well and know that I find it difficult to not stand up for what I believe in or can’t keep quiet when I’m passionate about a cause.
In reality not many people know me all too well. People take one look at me and I am often considered as a) Bee with an itch, b) a snob, c) All of the above. I have been judged so many times and so often that i’m used to it. I know the face of Judgie McJudgerson well. It always looks the same. I’ve become so used to it that it really doesn’t take anything off me. In fact it amuses me. Sometimes I wonder if I don’t have some kind of sign on my forehead that reads please judge me. The words “You’re nothing like I expected” never gets old. This is what I hear a lot. Seriously. Many of my good friends have told me this. I might be offended if I was the offensive type. I might even have given up hope of even bothering with people at all but it’s not in my nature. While my face and possibly my style will tell you one thing, my heart will tell a different story and if you look into my eyes you’ll see love lives here.
Buuut… I’m also not here to promote myself and my fabulous personality. I’m not in the running for this election. Guys and gals I want to ask each of you reading this post to please not be like my future neighbour. Don’t look at people and think you know them. We are all individuals who have so much to offer given the chance. Plenty of us do not have the courage to live our best lives because we are prematurely judged and convicted of crimes we did not commit. Judging someone can tear away their self esteem. It can break people and make them lose faith in humanity. Why would you want to do that to someone? Whether it’s knowingly or not.
In conclusion: Don’t judge a book by its cover.
PS: I know that my relationship with my new neighbours will be a good one. My family and I are a great bunch and we love peace and harmony.
PPS: I’ll probably bake them each a cake when we move in because I’m known to do things like that.