Thank you all for celebrating with me on my big news. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I celebrated by going out to dinner with friends, going to see Twelfth Night at my school, and going with Sydney to a dance performance at Willamette U. Technically, those were things I would have done even if I wasn't celebrating, but that's neither here nor there.
It's best to keep our celebration out of the house anyways because we have a new neighbor below us who introduced herself by way of saying, "Hi, I'm your new neighbor downstairs. I was wondering what sort of arrangement we could come up with about the noise." I stood there in the doorway awkwardly, assuring her I would do my best. She was sympathetic, "I know you have small children," but evidently their running up and down the hallway and the all-day dance parties in the living room sound like "a herd of elephants."
In case you aren't regularly around young children, I should mention that kids move around. A lot. In fact, Jules doesn't walk anywhere. She runs. She hops. She pounces with enthusiasm and vigor. And Sydney? The poor dear has heard the news, but as she said, "I just can't help it, Momma! I have to dance."
And she does. She has to. It's who she is. Our hour-long dance parties are a scheduled part of our daily activities, and all my instincts to be a kind and courteous neighbor squirm inside me with every thump, and stomp, and twirl, but...well, we can't stop dancing any more than we can't stop breathing.
I feel terrible though because we are not a quiet family. Have you met quiet families, with sweet and gentle mothers, who raise sweet and gentle children? I have, and I find them fascinating in the kind of way I find jellyfish fascinating. I am mesmerized by their slow, magical ways as they float through life. Sometimes I think, I'll just be a little quieter, a little more still, and then that will make all the difference.
Years of teaching has taught me this "change my ways" philosophy doesn't work. Just like I admire gentle parents, I also admired gentle teachers. They were the ones whose classrooms were subdued, their students rarely yelled (because they were bored? I don't know...). There's plenty of research that suggests that students emulate the noise and energy level of their teacher, and I tried to be one of those gentle, soft-spoken teachers. Well, I'd try for about 5 minutes, and then an errant boisterous laugh or a blatant display of crazy enthusiasm for Beowulf would bely my true nature: I am not quiet. I am not soft-spoken. I am not mellow.
To some degree I am quite relieved that my girls aren't either, Jules definitely more so than Sydney. We're a noisy bunch. We sing all the time. We dance at every moment. We wrestle; we bounce balls; we regularly drop to the floor for sit-ups and push-ups (and seeing a 23-month old kid doing sit-ups is totally priceless, I have to tell you). Throw in the daily temper tantrums, meltdowns, and dramatic monologues and you have a household that recognizes quiet like an Oregonian recognizes sunshine in February: with great confusion mixed with delight mixed with distrust.
I briefly thought of tallying how often we make noise that probably disrupts our neighbors, but I lost count after about 3 minutes. The most I can do is step over that squeak in the kitchen floor, disallow Sydney from practicing her tap dancing on non-carpeted areas, and half-heartedly remind the girls in my best lifeguard voice to "walk, don't run" between stations.
Also? I'm going to take some flowers down to our neighbor and beg to arrange some noisy hours and quiet hours because we have seven more months in our apartment and the little elephants can't keep from trumpeting.