Our neighbor likes to sleep with her windows open. And she is a light sleeper who sleeps late.
Our children are out of bed by 7:00. They like to go and play outside. I like to let them go out before it gets hot and sunny.
Herein lies the problem.
The first time she yelled out the window, “Can you please be quiet? We’re still sleeping,” the boys were fighting. Chagrined, I immediately brought them inside. Sadly, I think that may have encouraged her.
Now, every time they so much as open their mouths, she shouts out the window for them to keep it down, then slams her window shut.
Keep in mind that we never let them play outside before 7:30 on a weekday and later on the weekends. They know if there is any fighting or screaming, they will come inside immediately, and we always follow through on this. All they are doing is playing, but this is an urban neighborhood and the houses are very close together.
Keep in mind also that our household naps in the afternoon. Since the aforementioned neighbor has a yappy dog, a son who likes to bellow opera, and a piano studio in the backyard, we shut the windows during nap time. I am, after all, a light sleeper. It is not reasonable for me to ask her to keep it down for an hour each afternoon.
It may, however, be reasonable for her to sleep till past 8:30 AM. And, it is surely better for the planet that she sleeps with her windows open instead of air conditioning. She has a point.
And so do I. I will not tell my kids they cannot play outside in the morning. She probably will not start shutting her windows at night. We are at a standstill, like Van Itch and Grandpa in The Butter Battle Book.
Perhaps the time will come when we talk about this face to face. Perhaps we will both be grown up enough about it to come to an understanding. But I doubt it. One thing I have learned about adults is that we are rarely grown ups. We prefer the cowardly approach; we prefer to sit on our haunches assured of our rectitude. We prefer to send little boys into battle rather than compromise or accept that there is more than one way to be right. For all our talk of tolerance, we prefer to fight than to humble ourselves before someone else’s belief system.
And so, she will probably continue to yell out her bedroom window and I will probably continue to ignore her and we will give each other polite smiles when we are both in our driveways at the same time.
And my little boys will grow up in a world of self-righteousness and anger, rather than one in which compromise is possible.