Last weekend we spent Sunday stapling acoustic foam panels onto our floor. Viewed in a certain light, the panels themselves are quite lovely: All of those undulating curves, the soft gray, the touch of texture.
Of course, I’m kidding. But you better believe that short from living in a padded cell, I’m not sure there’s a foolproof solution to our current predicament.
Two weeks ago we got the dreaded note from the downstairs neighbor. It was attached to our door with duct tape, and though pleasant enough, it still made our stomachs drop. Noise levels: unmanagable. Request: no running before 8 am.
To which the tempting reply is: IF ONLY.
Have you ever tried to keep a toddler from running? The problem with a baby, of course, is that there’s not an off switch. And the on switch is set to run. There’s no meandering around the apartment. No sustained tip-toeing. And definitely no reasoning. Quiet, quiet, we say, our fingers pressed to our mouths. And Faye responds with a joyful pounding of her tiny feet and thwack of a metal spatula onto the floor. Bless her heart, little imp.
Put simply: we’re doing our best. Which is, despite the occassional cries to the contrary, what every parent everywhere is doing. No parent finds joy in thinking that their offspring might be disturbing the peace. No parent stands idly by while their child goes ape on a plane. The countering tactics might be subtle, and they’re likely ineffective, but I don’t think there’s any parent on the planet who’s not making their best effort.
Last week, in a scene that unfolded far from the confines our tiny apartment, Faye revolted midway into a 40-minute subway ride. No number of songs or funny faces or handing over of chapsticks or wallets could convince her that a subway was a place she wanted to be. When the woman sitting next to me—who had been suffering silently through banshee screams—got up to leave, she turned to me and James and said: “You’re great parents. It’s not you. Babies just do that sometimes.”
And then I cried, because, oh, humanity.
Truth be told, I wasn’t feeling particularly frazzled by Faye’s discontent. I got it. I wanted to be home and cozy, too. But the unsolicited kindness of a stranger was so encouraging and comforting and generous. So, in case any one out there needs encouragement: I hope the kindness of that stranger on the subway can be your comfort, too.
As for life in our tiny apartment with a noisemaker? We’re trying to thwart her efforts at creating maximum cacaphony. We’ve hidden the bell rattle. We’ve doubled our supply of grippy socks. We only build block towers a top a pile of blankets and quilts. The little rolling caterpillar has become an outdoor toy. I’m trolling eBay for vintage rugs. And mulling over these Brooklyn beauties.
And meanwhile, our neighbor continues to do his part to cope by blasting the Grateful Dead and filling his apartment (and ours) with pot smoke.
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.