By Rick Kaempfer
My boys have been home for nearly two weeks now for Christmas vacation, and my ears are ringing. I really don’t think I’m particularly sensitive to loud noises. In fact, I’m nearly deaf after 20-plus years of working in rock and roll radio.
But there’s no getting around it: my two youngest sons are loud.
When they play together they do so by stomping, running, chasing, squealing, screaming and rattling the walls. There are loud thumps and crashes, followed inevitably by somebody whining, crying or tattling about some horrible injustice.
It’s something that drives me absolutely crazy.
When I can’t handle the racket anymore, I send them outside. They play baseball or soccer or basketball until that ends in an argument of some kind. They’ll inevitably be so loud outside that I can hear them through the windows. At that point, they aren’t just driving me crazy–they’re driving the whole neighborhood crazy.
So, I send them back inside. When we get to this point, there are only two things that can end the noise. I can send them to their rooms and make them read quietly for awhile. Or, I can give them some crayons or colored pencils and ask them to draw something. Nothing else works.
Don’t believe me?
One time I tried to make them play chess. I figured that was about the quietest game imaginable. What could go wrong? I knew each of them were good chess players, because they’ve both beaten me. It really sounded like a good idea at the time.
But within moments, I was hearing the same thumping, crashing, stomping, running, chasing, squealing, screaming and rattling the walls.
How is that possible?
When I came to investigate I got my answer. Each of them were equipped with shields and goggles, and were shooting the other boy’s pieces off the board with nerf guns.
“Got your rook, Sean!”
When I’m out in public with the boys, and struggling to keep them in line, I’ll inevitably be stopped by an old man or woman who will say to me with a kindly smile: “Appreciate this time. When they’re gone and the house is quiet, you’ll really miss it.”
You know, I suspect they’re right about that.
But sometimes it’s hard to imagine.