There’s growling, there’s yelling in mock pain, there’s laughing, squealing, arguing, a sudden scream. I mean, high-pitched, ear-splitting screams. It’s children noise and the accompanying chaos. Right over my fence.
Do I mind? Oddly, no. Twelve years ago, before having my own kids I would have. Because I’m solitary and quiet and an introvert, I would have hated it. But now I don’t mind it. In fact, I like to listen. You never know what sound will come out next.
The Embarrassment of a Loud Child
When we first moved into our house, we took advantage of the large backyard. The kids played basketball, splashed in the blow-up pool, ran through a sprinkler, climbed on the play set. Because we have three and because they were all traumatized via abandonment by their birth parents, they were more vocal and volatile than your average kids. They were emotional, they were insistent. Extra nervous and ready to cry. They fought hard for what they wanted. Especially my youngest who’s cognitively delayed.
To our neighbors on both sides of our house, we apologized for the noise. Both couples said they didn’t mind it. We thought they were lying. We nodded gracefully and tried to keep our kids quiet. It was impossible. If my youngest missed tossing the basketball in the hoop, she threw a fit. If it was nap time, she threw a fit. If her sister scolded her, she threw a fit. There were lots of screams. We soldiered on.
Soon, we learned our neighbors really didn’t mind the noise. It reminded them of their kids when they were young. They laughed at our youngest’s “lungs.” They said they actually missed the noise. Our older neighbors even said they didn’t like it too quiet. We were grateful and tried to curb the noise as best we could.
A New Quieter Era
My kids are now 12, 14, and 16. They no longer make noise in the backyard. Hell, I can barely get them to even go in the backyard. My youngest has grown out of her tantrums. Instead, she spends time reading and singing in her bedroom. But now, there are young grandkids next door. As I write this, they’re spraying hoses and squealing and running around. A crazy roar. Fast words. A sharp whap. It’s all music to my ears.
Karen Hugg is a writer and gardener living in the Seattle area. She is a certified ornamental horticulturalist and Master Pruner. When not digging in the dirt, she writes. She's been published in various journals, anthologies, websites, and more. Her life is happily hectic but she's lucky to have a patient husband and sweet children. Her pets aren't bad either. To learn more, explore http://www.karenhugg.com.