Whoever designed my housing complex was as clever as a dead rat.
My flat is nice enough, with spacious rooms and large screened windows. The floor plan doesn’t allow for much air circulation, but fans remedy that well enough. We don’t have too much noise from the neighbors next to, above and below us, aside from the occasional barking dog or crying babe. It’s quite lovely, really.
Until you factor in the playground.
The windows of my kitchen and living room face the windows of kitchens and living rooms in another building directly across the way. Perfectly parallel, the buildings are about 30m (appx. 90ft) apart. (If I didn’t throw so abhorrently, I could chuck a ball through a neighbor’s window.) In this scant space, the composting rat of a designer decided to install a playground. No, I take that back… three playgrounds: one meant for tots, one for kids up to the age of five, and another for children up to the age of twelve.
There are the good days, during which I consider creating a twitter account solely for the purpose of relaying to the rest of the world the hilarious excerpts of conversation I hear through my open window; and there are the bad days, during which I pray for the ground to open up and swallow them all whole… perhaps then re-sealing itself and leaving a lovely vegetable garden in their place. Or a very selective and specific natural disaster. Or, if neither of those can be managed, at least (for sanity’s sake!) a plague of laryngitis.
Let’s just say that most days I’m not thinking of what to name my twitter account.
Until living here, I was never aware how much children like to scream. I don’t mean shout. I don’t mean shriek with delight or excitement. I mean scream, like little incessant banshees. For as long and as loudly as they possibly can. Honestly, how can something so tiny have that much lung capacity?
As they have their little contests to see whose voice can reach the highest pitch or resonate the longest, the sound waves of their wails are ricocheting off the walls and windows of the opposing buildings, vibrating through the windows that I must leave cracked open because air conditioning barely exists where I live, and piercing my ears like molten fire stokes. It sometimes helps my soul to recite Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies. My ears are another story.
There are signs posted next to each piece of equipment notifying adults that children must be supervised at all times while on the playground. Even so, it is rare to see adults monitoring the children from under the shade of the nearby gazebo or, god forbid, actually interacting with their children. No; this is because many mothers and fathers prefer to “monitor” their children from the comfort of their own home through those convenient playground-facing windows. The parents who live in other nearby buildings must figure that as long as some adult is checking out their window, the children are being monitored well enough. The lack of supervision leads to children bullying one another, causing screaming and crying; or to children thinking it’s a really good idea to try all those daring feats mom always forbids, ending up in sobs and wails.
The only quiet exists in the hours before the young ones awake and after they’ve been called home for dinner.
My favorite days are filled with rain.