I’m playing hooky from work today. I deserve it, I think. In addition to a very long work week which started out with an all day, hyper-dramatic trial, I was one of only two grownups who spent the entire weekend with a troop of Girl Scouts. Yup. Me, another brave Mom (June), eight girls, and a 48 hour slumber party.
It was as non-primitive as you can get and still call it camping, as it occurred in the yard of my house at Lake Oconee. Still, there was no wi-fi or television, we prohibited the use of iPods, and they slept all piled together in one large tent. So what if the potties were clean and flushable, and there was a real shower and a real coffee maker and an endless supply of clean dry towels, due to the endless running of the washing machine and dryer? We cooked over a grill (mostly) and spent all day out of doors and ate our collective weight in s’mores.
On the one hand, it was a fabulous thing to watch. Without the influence of boys or men, the girls were free to be themselves without preening and learn independence. Without screen time, they interacted and explored and played in a most old fashioned way. They spent about an hour throwing the anchor off the boat and hauling it up. Why that was fun for them, I will never know, but they were lining up for a turn playing “anchor girl.” The youngest girl (my daughter) was in fourth grade and ten years old, the eldest was in seventh grade and almost thirteen. June and I figured they were old enough that our job was merely supervision. They set up and took down their own tents, built several campfires, and cleaned up after themselves. More impressively, as far as I could tell, they all got along the entire time.
There is a downside to a gaggle of girls getting along, however, and that is the constant high pitched ‘yatatayatatayatata’ that increases in volume as time wears on. They’re excited, they’re shouting with joy, they’re talking over each other, and they are scaring off the wildlife and attracting domesticated dogs. (Seriously – one random dog, who we ultimately named “Bella” because she was annoying us, much like Bella in Twilight does, spent virtually the entire weekend with us wagging her tail, getting petted, and trying to eat our hot dogs. Everyone thought she was cute and friendly up until the point where she got into the tent and peed on one girl’s Pillow Pet. We packed her into the car and drove her home a few times, but she always managed to come back with an incredibly hopeful look on her little mutty face.)
But back to the noise – everything, it seems, is awfully noisy. The constant barrage of sound often feels like I’m caught in a hailstorm of glass shards, there are so many things banging off my skull trying to get in. Right now I am still at the lake, having managed to pawn of my daughter to another Mom to bring home so I could have a few moments of peace. All I can hear is the low tuned wind chimes we got as a housewarming present, the occasional slap of the water against the pontoons of the boat, and about 12 different birdcalls, none of which I can identify beyond “that tweety one” or “the one that sounds like a catcall” or “that screechy one I wish would quit.” I haven’t turned on the radio or watched a movie or even used my vocal chords in more than 12 hours. The Sounds of Silence. I love it. I never get it.
My house is usually noisy. The dishwasher is running. The washing machine and dryer are spinning. Someone always has the television set on. Someone is practicing the saxophone or oboe or recorder or piano. Someone is listening to the radio. Someone is playing a video game with a bleepybloopy soundtrack. Someone is always talking. Someone is always singing or humming or whistling. Usually all at once. Any one of these things, in and of itself, would be ok, but the combination is an aural assault that the older I get the less I can tolerate. I’ve tried instituting a “one source of noise in one room at a time” rule, but I haven’t been terribly successful, as even my husband won’t comply. If you want to talk, turn off the tv. If you want to watch tv, don’t noodle around on the piano. My brain is easily scrambled and confused.
I guess I’m alone in this, since the world seems dead set on increasing the amount of input we get at any given moment. You can’t even watch the weather without three different scroll lines below giving you information you can’t possibly process. I can’t shop for anything without a store having “background” music so loud I have to shout to be heard. Seriously – what does crappy auto-tuned electronic pop music about going out to party have to do with my choice of blenders? Why does anyone think it will make me want to buy more stuff? It makes me want to high tail it out of the store as quickly as I can.
I picture my head blowing up like a balloon with all the input. Like all these different bits of information and sounds coming in my ears have mass and are filling up my brain faster than I can mentally digest them. I’m afraid that one day we will all overload, and there will be an explosion. When the shrapnel settles, there will be a lot of headless bodies standing next to clothing racks and holding price tags.
I guess that’s not the worst thing that could happen – with no head, there is no way anyone could turn me into a zombie when the time comes. Ah yes. There’s always a silver lining if you look for it.
Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/loribduffauthor