Thursday, July 1, 2010

Last Child in the Yard?

If you haven't read "Last Child in the Woods", you should. However, kids in nature is one thing, what happened to kids playing in the yard? My children are the only voices on our street on any given day. No one else of any age is even outside. It's like a ghost town. Occasionally a silent adult will walk by with a dog or two. Or a bike will pass. That's it. Where is everyone?

My college age neighbor came up to complain last week about how loud the kids were. It was 3:00 in the afternoon on the first really warm day this summer and the kids were whooping and hollering in the sprinklers on the lawn. Actually the neighbor first screamed "SHUT UP!" from her yard. I had no idea she meant us, I thought there was a boyfriend or roommate spat in progress. Anyway, this person informed me that we were bad neighbors, I should be ashamed of myself for being such a terrible parent as to allow my children to be loud outside and I couldn't possibly know how hard it is to study physics and calculus when people are being loud.

Huh. I didn't even know what to say. Still don't. Obviously she was kind of right. The peace and quiet of the neighborhood is broken daily and regularly by my kids. But, and it's a big but, they're kids. They are supposed to be loud. They are supposed to be outside. You cannot play in the sprinkler quietly. Or inside. You can however, study at the library. Guaranteed to be loud child (and loud adult) free. So. What to do? Do I micro-manage the kids outside so that they only make appropriately loud noises. No fighting, no screeching, no loud games of Harry Potter or howling animals? Do I proceed as if she never came up and let the kids do their thing, letting them work out their arguments loudly when necessary, holler if the get ambushed with the hose, and play whatever games the dream up, no matter how loud? What do my elderly neighbors next door think? The older neighbors next door with grown children, what about them? I don't know.

Right now I am gently reminding them about not screaming at each other if they are angry, a good skill for inside and outside play. I am not asking them to say "Expecto Patronum!" quietly when they are playing Harry Potter, if the noise level is necessary for their play, I'm not interfering. I'm not asking them to play inside. Kids will be kids. It's kinda their job. I cannot and will not discourage outside play. I can only hope that people are tolerant and understanding or in this person's case, eventually grow up, have some children of her own and finally get it.


  1. College age kids who get all huffy and self-righteous about how the world owes them proper silent reverence for studying physics & calculus really just deserve an eyeroll for being pretentious brats. Ask me how I know.

  2. Oh puh-lease. I would probably go out there and start playing loudly WITH the kids. I suppose she wants them to sit quietly and play Nintendo all day.