The Sound of Silence, Part 2
You really didn’t think that rant could be confined to a single post, did you? I offer one more observation where public air space is concerned.
During our spring break vacation, there was a family in our condo who could be identified by the volume of the kids’ voices; you didn’t even have to see them to know who was coming around the corner. At the pool, there was no-holds-barred, top-of-lungs shrieking, while the parents sat just feet away, indifferent. That is one example, but I’ve noticed others: a man checking out at Walmart with a toddler screaming while she played with a toy in the cart, and the man completely unaffected (I think this was most likely happy screaming, but at a certain decibel, it becomes difficult to discern whether it is happy or sad screaming, and actually, I would have had more sympathy were it sad screaming: we’ve all been blindsided by a toddler-tantrum!)
I think this is a new thing–the acceptance of any level of volume from children as a natural part of being a child, and the expectation that everyone within a mile radius should tolerate this volume. Perhaps it evolves from our own expectation that others will tolerate any volume we produce personally, as covered in Part 1.
I love children–we have six of our own, and have fostered others throughout the years. I do not believe that children should be seen and not heard. There is no sound more precious than a hearty belly laugh, especially when it comes from a toddler’s belly! But I earnestly believe that children should be taught to be sensitive to others around them, and considerate of how any given situation might impact those people. Some children have a natural proclivity for doing this, but for most it is a learned skill–the development of an awareness of those souls surrounding them, and the comfort of those souls. Such an awareness, in the future, might trigger the thought that an old man could really use an extra hand with his packages. Or a spouse is feeling uncomfortable with a question that was just asked of her.
Such an awareness is really an extension of the concept that we are our best selves when we are putting others before ourselves–that consideration of others is more important than our desire to be loud or boisterous. It says to a young child, “You are not the center of the universe, but rather a small part of it.” It plants a tiny seed of humility.
I’m sure many of you have a different opinion: I’d love to hear it, and your stories, too.