A Piece of Quiet

“An inability to stay quiet is one of the conspicuous failings of mankind.”
-Walter Bagehot

I’m wearing slick socks to ensure a definite lack of creaking floorboards, I’ve turned off the television much to the dismay of my pint-sized president of The Mickey Mouse Fan Club of America, and I’m whisper typing these sentences despite my ritual of singing the words of a post to the beat of 80’s rock. After a hectic four-day trip to Nashville with toddler in tow, I hear-under the muffled cartoon plot line of a in-car DVD, the chatter with a girlfriend over cocktails, and the blaring of hilarious YouTube videos my mom insists we must watch- that tiny piece of peace and quiet is begging (in hushed tones, of course) for a trial run.

Bags are unpacked. Zippers zip. Laundry is sucked into a rocking swoosh of a rickety washer. Radio hums a commercial for two-for-one entrees at a fine country-buffet kind of establishment. Faucet drips water into drain. Kerplunk. Toddler bangs head on a refrigerator door, a cruel obstacle in his search for sugary apple juice. Thud. Angry cries slice through the air. A boy learning the dangers of using his head to throw a tantrum. Coffee maker sputters, kicking exhaust and dripping caffeinated oil into a gracious mug. Dog scratches at the door. She groans, a low moo to remind us she is outside in the rain. Rain ticks against window’s glass. We will be stuck inside today. Television teaches a sore-noggin-ed toddler colors and shapes. His cries rumble once more because apparently orange triangles are flat infuriating.

A few short hours into our morning and this self-proclaimed siren of a blah-mouth is overwhelmed with the constant hearing of it all. Normally one with the loud, I worry we are missing the benefits of silence like, say, silence.

I dig the dog’s bark collar from a junk drawer. She eyes the torture necklace as a shock-n-shut-up styled device of doom. Without words, I point to the thing. She inches her mouth open as if to give a rebellious bark. I pretend that I am cranking the sucker up to high voltage. She swallows the bark and opts for a quiet nap in the closet.

The key to keeping a toddler quiet is simple. There isn’t one. Still, I hope his recent head trauma and the bottle of juice now corking up his mouth regions will help. I challenge the energetic tot to a staring contest. He laughs within seconds of staring down my crooked, tired eyes. We reinvent the game until it becomes something of an inanimate face-off with walls. He impressed me, staring at one particularly plain wall for two minutes and eleven seconds before caving and trying to beat his head against it. Quiet Mouse has a headache.

Next I insist he helps me with my morning exercise routine. We will perform an intricate flow of yoga poses, I explain. He becomes antsy upon discovering that I only intend for us to do Savasana, otherwise known as Final Rest or Corpse Pose. I think he throws a fit, but can’t be sure. I fell asleep twelve seconds into working out.

After breaking such a sweat I treat dog and baby to a refreshing game of Drinking Water. For the first time all morning I rejoice in a fully silent house, air not yet polluted by sounds. My son, proud of his most stealthy ninja sipping, cracks a smile before masking it with his hands. I see a flash of worry, just for a moment, as he fears his happiness is audible. As this morning has taught me, the silence never lasts in this house. But this time it is the most unsuspecting of noisy perpetrators. I feel a wave of ha-ha rush up and through my smile. I snort, forgetting to stop gulping my water, and cough laughter into this quiet place. The boy stares stunned that I have broken all the rules I have made. He peels his fingers one-by-one away from a smile that never left. We choke on our water. We choke on our laughter. We set the dog’s bark collar off with our riotous giggle fits. She barks- maybe from a slap of electricity, maybe just to join the fun. I like to think she is laughing, too.

Clearly, calm and quiet is not our forte. But if all these decibels mean defeat, well, then losing is the sweetest sound. “Conspicuous failing” is music to my ears.

Do you fail quiet?

Can I interest anyone in a round of Loud Ass Mouse?

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20 thoughts on “A Piece of Quiet

  1. You’re right when you say “The key to keeping a toddler quiet is simple. There isn’t one.” And it doesn’t really get any better as they age…but at least there aren’t any more shitty diapers to change.

  2. There is beauty in silence but only for a short while. I find laughter to be much more relaxing and cathartic. You know me I grew up in a house that was always just a little to full of people, back then all I wanted was quiet. Now its just Jas and me with our puppy any sometimes I find myself talking to myself just to fill up the silence. Funny how perspective changed as life does. Great post as always!

    • Perspective is a funny thing! If I think about all the noise around me on any given day I SHOULD have a headache. Now, Tom and Thomas leave for a day or to and I stare at my half-dumb dog, hoping she’ll have something to say :)

  3. I do fail quiet. All the time. This is school vacation week, so sometimes I can manage to fake quiet. I tell the kids to go downstairs to play. I can hear them whooping and screeching and stuff, but it’s a little less loud than when they are running circles around me.

  4. Our summers are so noisy, I always appreciate a little piece of quiet in the off-season, too! ;) (That “piece of quiet” phrase is reminding me of the Greatsby’s recent post about letting the “cast out of the bag”… too funny!)

    Hope you get some rest and some blissful silence!

  5. Love this. Especially the stealthy smiles and sneaky laughter. Just. Love. I’m hanging on to quiet time like a rottweiler, right now. Just one hour, and not even of silence. Just quiet, which is really another word for “some time by myself in my own head”. Because otherwise I might be tempted to tether all six of them to the front deck with dog leads… ;-)

  6. Love the whole bit with your son peeling his fingers away from his smile one-by-one. My husband wishes I were quiet just for once! But I know he misses my endless chatter when I’m not around.

  7. I adore quiet.

    When I was married, we had three boys, three dogs, four cats, 15 parakeets, and an African Grey parrot.

    The best part about my divorce is that I get to have a quiet house again!

  8. I fail quiet with a vengeance. Doing school plays growing up, I was the only kid who didn’t need a microphone. My husband says he can hear me talking in the front of a restaurant from the back in the men’s restroom. I have no concept of “inside voice.”

  9. A round of “Loud-Ass Mouse”? Maybe he’s hurting from all that frostbite suffered at the feet of Walt Disney’s cryogenically-frozen body?
    (Oh, sorry, getting my blogs crossed. See Young American Wisdom for that to make sense. ;) )
    I think I found your wedding present. I’ll come visit, and take your least favourite closet for a makeover into a 1960s-game-show soundproof booth. That way, you can lock the door and get all the silence your claustrophobia can tolerate! :D

  10. I work from home and spend huge chunks of time by myself.

    So, I talk to myself. Out loud. A lot.

    Yes, I definitely fail quiet.

    Slip a little Benadryl into that apple juice and get a couple of hours of silence. Once in a blue moon, that shouldn’t be bad for the tot, should it?

Ramble on, little rambler...

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