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August 06, 2013 8:32 am

The Amend Corner: Silence isn’t always so golden

Written by Don Amend

Ordinarily, our house is pretty quiet.

Aside from my tendency to turn the music up a few extra decibels, the better to hear the pianissimo passages of “Scheherazade” or enjoy the somewhat louder chords of “Born in the USA,” there isn’t a lot of noise.

For a few days, though, it was like the good old days at our address, noisy, cluttered and a little — well, more than a little — confused.

The root cause of the racket was 10 days of visitors, most significantly, overlapping visits from our four grandchildren. Naturally, they brought along three of their four parents—the fourth had to stay home and fill prescriptions — to add to the excitement. In addition, uncles, aunts and cousins from both sides of the family dropped by to see what all the noise was about.

Now all those visitors were nice, but the highlight was the grandkids, who match up rather nicely in age and enjoy each other’s company immensely. As you might expect, they were the major contributors to the noise and the mess.

Chasing each other around the yard was good for several hours of squealing and shouting, and it had the side effect of increasing conversation among the mothers, who remarked that it was nice to be able to send them out in the yard without having to supervise them as they did at home.

When the sprinklers came on, the squeals increased in volume, particularly from the little guy who liked to stand, eyes closed, waiting in suspense for the sprinkler to come around and hit him in the behind, whereupon he would dissolve into a bundle of giggles.

More squeals of excitement were generated when our son dug out the hundreds—yes hundreds—of “Star Wars” figures and machines he collected in his youth, and, for the first time in three decades, our floor was covered with storm troopers and space vehicles, accompanied by child-generated sounds of laser fire and engine whooshing.

Even noisier was the introduction to the kids of the old cornet our son had played before switching to French horn and the saxophone our daughter had played in high school and college. Neither had been out of its case for a couple of decades, but everybody wanted a shot at tooting a horn.

The sight of a couple of boys blowing into a sax nearly as tall as they are was good for a lot of laughter, as were the various sounds, some musical, some not, the four produced. One young man did manage to produce clear notes from both instruments, which generated exclamations of surprise from all the adults.

The kid may have a future in music, although whether he’ll take after Louis Armstrong or Benny Carter is yet to be decided.

The most amusing noisy activity was the morning ritual of deflating a large air mattress used to accommodate the guests. All four kids would climb up on the mattress, which became an ersatz quicksand pit when the plug was pulled and four writhing bodies slowly sank to the floor, their owners giggling all the way, pausing only to shout fake calls for help.

The whole show drew laughter from the adults present, including one grandpa who wished mightily that he could join the kids in rolling in the quicksand.

Well, needless to say, not all the noise was laughter. There were many minor bumps and disappointments, one unpleasant encounter with a cat and a few disagreements that brought less joyful noises to the mix. But they were minor compared to the pleasant sounds of children playing that we don’t hear very often at our house anymore.

Now everybody is gone, either to return home or to continue the vacation with a visit to another set of grandparents, and it’s quiet in our house again.

Our cats, who don’t care much for visitors, especially noisy ones, have emerged after spending most of 10 days hiding in a closet or under the bed and resumed their accustomed positions as rulers of the house.

The various rooms are more navigable now that Luke, Chewbacca, the Millennium Falcon, the stuffed animals and other relics of our days as parents of young ones are back in their assigned storage places or stuffed into suitcases, and we are back to our normally un-noisy routine.

It’s nice, but I miss the noise.

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