Monday, August 22, 2005

Doolittle Syndrome

"Words, words, words. I'm so sick of words!"

I share Eliza Doolittle's lament! The kids and grandkids have come and gone, and I enjoyed their visits very much. But I've also enjoyed a week of peace and quiet since they all left. The visits of all four grandsons, ages four to seven, overlapped for three days. They're a loquacious bunch; they all started talking at a young age, and they haven't stopped. When they're not talking they're screaming or simply making noise. When my kids were young, I theorized that many children have a minimum noise tolerance. When things get too quiet, they find a way to turn up the volume.

Like My Fair Lady, we hear words all day long. Many people have the TV or radio going day and night. I don't understand how people can work in establishments where loud, recorded music is part of the (supposedly desirable) ambiance. People cannot ride a bus or train without hooking up to their iPods. Even walking down the street, they feel the need to use their cell phones several times an hour, just to talk, just to check in.

Are we afraid to be quiet? Is this an adaptive trait, a need to hear noise and confirm that we're not alone in the world? Is noise substituting for quieter, more satisfying way of relating to other people? Can we really listen thoughtfully when others speak, while surrounded by noise?

Whatever the answers, I'm in favor of deliberately teaching kids to value silence. And maybe, since "No Smoking" areas are now prevalent, we could begin to establish "Quiet Zones" in public spaces.

P.S. I realize I'm creating more words with this blog, but at least they're silent and you don't have to read them.


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