Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Silence Speaks Volumes

It has hit that time of the year when the temperature in the evening is perfect. It is beautiful outside. There's a gentle breeze and for some reason, I actually feel like stepping outside of my house. Last night was one of those nights.

I noticed it when I got home and just felt drawn to go out and enjoy it. I ran into the house, changed my clothes and grabbed a good book. I sat in my front yard, planning to enjoy the weather and get lost in a story.

About the time I got settled, one of the neighbor kids yelled a greeting my way. I gave a quick acknowledging wave, but carefully avoided making eye contact or answering back for fear of engaging them in a conversation. To my surprise, they left me alone. The girl had a friend over and they were busy playing with Barbies while lying on the roof of another neighbor's car. The boy was playing in his sandbox.

"Awesome!", I thought. "They're distracted."

Excited at the idea that I might actually get to enjoy this weather and my book, I settled in. I had read about a page, when the girls had a disagreement which required screaming for some reason.

Girl A: That is not true. You're so stupid!
Girl B: Nu-uh! My gramma told me. Cats have 12 lives! That why they live so long.
Girl A: My cat got hit by a car last week and it was just dead!
Girl B: Well, he must have used up the other lives before then.
Girl A: Not HE!!! She was a girl!
Girl B: She must have been a stupid girl for playing in the road!

I almost corrected their mistake about cats and explained that all cats were stupid, but decided against it. They would have just brought the conversation to me and started complaining about each other and wanting me to fix it. I was just about to give up and retreat back to the house when one of them picked up a brick and chased the other down the street to hit her with it. Finally, some peace.

A few minutes later, the boy started wailing from the sandbox. As he cried, he picked up the toy dump truck and threw it against the swing set. Then, he picked it up and did it again. I surrendered my plan and withdrew back to the serenity of my house.

Luckily, I do not have small children any longer, so my house is fairly quiet. However, it hadn't always been that way. I remember once snapping at Christian because his laughing was beginning to grate on my nerves. Unfortunately, he was also old enough to talk.

"Excuse me, Dad. Is my being happy irritating you?" Imagine this being said with the dripping sarcasm of a snotty punk.

"I don't give a crap if you're happy, just do it silently. The same goes for when you sad, angry or bleeding."

Before I get angry comments from parents who "love" their kids and think that I should be ashamed, please note that the above dialogue was a joke. He didn't really have to be silent if he was bleeding. In fact, if he got blood on the carpet or the furniture and didn't say something, he lost his "time-outside-of-the-cellar" privileges.

Sometimes a parent just wants quiet. This is part of the reason why young kids can get into such mischief. When people hear stories of crazy things kids have done, they often ask, "Where were the parents?" The honest truth of the matter is, they were usually right in the next room, but since the kids weren't making any noise, they were just enjoying the temporary bliss. This happened once when I was very young.

My brothers and I were at home alone with our father one evening. I was seven years old. Kyle was four and Trevor was two. After Dad had threatened pleaded with us a few dozen times to quietly play without fighting, we found our way to the basement. It was far enough away, that we didn't have to be as careful about our noise.

After a considerable amount of time, we started finding new things to do and soon discovered how much room there was inside the dryer. One of us would crawl in and lean to one side to get it to turn. We fought over whose turn it was and kept pushing each other out. At one point, we got Trevor in there and we turned the barrel with our hands. We had a great time.

I knew this glorious machine was capable of turning itself, but every time I pushed the button that I had seen my mom pushed to make it work, nothing happened. At the time, I didn't know about the different settings and dials. Plus, the door would have to be shut for it to activate.

Once Kyle and I got bored with not being able to turn the dryer on so Trevor could go for a ride, we decided to just shut him in. Kyle held the door shut and I found a board to prop between one of the basement support beams and the handle of the dryer door. I have no idea why we did this, but I distinctly remember doing it.

Once we were certain he would not be able to get out, Kyle and I headed back up the stairs only to be met by our father at the top.

"Where's your brother?"

(shrugs) "I dunno."

Trevor's shrieks for help drowned out our pleas of false ignorance and he was soon rescued by Dad. That was the end of our night of fun.

The next morning, as Dad finished recalling the events of the previous evening to our mother over the breakfast table, she only had one comment as she glared at us.

"I hoped you spanked their butts."

"Yup. All three of them."

"What?!? You spanked the baby too? Why?"

"For being dumb enough to crawl in there."

25 comments:

  1. Your dad is perfect! That is so something I would say! I tell my girls that unless their arms or legs have fallen off they are not allowed to scream. And even then, they should approach me quietly and inform me politely (especially if I'm in the middle of something) that they are currently missing an appendage.

    And you are far too right about parents just needed some quiet time. I'm not working right now so my days are pretty quiet with the girls at school but once they get home, youch! It is a major transition from relative peace to chaos!

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    1. When you have small children, quiet time is very valuable.

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  2. I GET TO LEAVE THE 1ST COMMENT!
    I don't remember this quite as well, but I've heard mom tell the story a thousand times. I do remember years later when we did figure out how to turn the dryer on. I remember it took dad a while to figure out why the belt kept comming off the drum. he had to fix it several times before we got in trouble.
    And speeking of stupid cats. Remember when we found one of them warming itself on the freshly dried clothes, in the open dryer?
    I feel I could go on for days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dang, someone beat me to it!

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    2. Yeah, you got beat out by a few minutes.

      I don't remember the dryer belt, but do remember the cat.

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  3. You have described a key reason why I do not have children. Where I'm living now, I don't have to interact with kids much, and the neighbor dogs who accompany me on my morning walk don't beg for attention.

    Dogs win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The advantage to kids is they can do a few things for you. Like get you a drink from the fridge or be used as an excuse to skip work.

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    2. They can also pan handle on the street corner and bring home at least ten bucks or they get the hose again.

      If only my wife hadn't put a stop to that.

      Delete
  4. Your dad is like me. I love that picture of the girl on the big wheel, that is something I would do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been known to flip a kid or two.

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  5. Oh Brett, your dad sounds fabulous. And I yelled at Jack this morning for laughing for 10 minutes straight because he had the giggles. Silence is truly golden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes we have to choose. Quiet or happy. Of course, we want our kids to be happy, but if we have to trade silence in order to get it, it's just not worth it.

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  6. I think you've just enlightened me as to why other people were annoyed by my siblings and I when I was younger. :S

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That may have been it. As annoying as your own kids can be, other people's kids are worse.

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  7. Your dad sounds like a stern fellow. But he must have been a good parent; you turned out okay, right?

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    Replies
    1. He was great. I don't mean to make him sound like a bad guy. I just emphasize the points that drive my story.

      I think I turned out all right.

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    2. (you turned out awesome.)

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  8. This made me laugh a lot more than it should have. I think the diagram may me pretty accurate for me too...

    Sounds like you three got into a lot of trouble, even when you were just little. haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, we had a tendency to push the boundaries.

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  9. My brother and I used to put our baby brother on a blanket, hold opposite ends, and toss him up as high as we could into the air. Then one day one of said, "let's see what happens if we don't catch him!"

    'Cause sometimes you just want to know. It's not mean-ness. It's science. And it gets you big ol' welts on your bum.

    Enjoying the blog!

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    Replies
    1. I know what you mean. We put my brother in a sleeping bag once and threw it into a haystack just to see if it would work.

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    2. Wonderfully. It became a long played game.

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  10. LOL!!! I enjoyed your post. My cousin and I used to play in my grandmothers dryer. But it was a game to see who could stay in the longer with the door closed. Neither one of us ever wanted to the door closed because being in the dryer was scary enough. Thanks for the flashback. I don't think our grandparents knew what we were doing. We were being quiet in the basement and there was so much to get into.

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