Friday, March 23, 2012

One Person's Noise is Another Person's Lifestyle

My daughter inherited my husband's proclivity for noise. Although she has never liked loud noises that invade her world, she has no problem creating noise herself, or working in a noisy environment.

When it comes to noise tolerance, I am, unfortunately, her polar opposite.

Last week, illness caused me to take two sick days. For two entire days, I had complete control over the level of noise inside my home. Outside was another matter entirely, but even that posed little problem as my neighbors' homes were largely empty, their occupants gone to work or school. I spent two days in blissful quiet. My only complaint was occasional boredom, and that was easily remedied by a nap.

In the evening, when my family returned, I was struck by the difference two additional people can make. Early in the evening, my daughter turned a radio on in the dining room, ostensibly to work on a science lab. She abandoned it a short time later to work on her laptop in the living room. While the radio in the dining room played on, my daughter began streaming music - different music from that already playing in the next room, of course - from her computer. I sat across the room in auditory overload while she clicked away on her compter keyboard, oblivious to the competing stations. When I asked her to turn down the radio in the dining room, she readily complied, but had I not asked, the cacaphony would have continued unabaated. It would never have occurred to her to turn one or the other down, let alone off.

It's at times like these that I remind myself that her years with us are winding down. Next year, she starts high school, and if middle school is any indication, those years will fly. Before I know it, she'll be away at college and I will miss the noise fest that is an evening at our house.

I'm not being maudlin - just realistic. My nephew is a freshman in college now, a stage of life I still struggle to reconcile with my memory of the little blond toddler who used to play with Thomas the Tank Engine trains in my parents' living room. And when the child is your own, the time flies all that much faster.

And so I practice patience - as much as possible, anyway. I remind myself that our house is her home, too, and that she should be allowed to make noise without being nagged about it all the time. I take a deep breath - sometimes - and ask myself if it's that big a deal.

Right before I ask her to turn it down.

Hey, it's my home, too.

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