My neighborhood has grown exponentially since we moved in nearly three and a half years ago. Back then, we were the third house built on our street. Now, there are 25 or so. More have built on other streets.
For the past few years, though, there was something conspicuously absent from the streets — children. I knew they existed because I’ve seen pictures. They’re like shorter versions of adults.
Then something called coronavirus arrived in Georgia and schools began canceling in-person classes. If I’d have known it was possible to shut down schools, I’d have created COVID for my seventh-grade science project instead of that mobile with the 10 planets.
(Back then, kids, Pluto was a full-fledged official planet before getting demoted to “dwarf planet” status and then the politically correct “little planet.” And, yes, that would have made only nine planets, but I added the Death Star for creativity — which got me the same amount of credit credit as most of my creativity back then.)
For the past few weeks, the streets of my neighborhood have been inundated with children. I’m going to assume they are the children of my neighbors, especially since many of them are riding bicycles with training wheels, which makes for quite the long journey from across town.
While I now have to be extra-cautious while driving my pickup truck through the neighborhood, it’s reassuring that kids are playing outside again. It’s not that I wasn’t cautious before when it was just grown folks walking the streets, but in today’s America, the longer you live, the more comfortable we’ve become with your dying.
“Did Great Aunt Gladys die of coronavirus? That’s terrible, but she had a good run, and, you know, the economy.”
“Actually she died of Tacoma, Toyota Tacoma.”
“What?! That’s a tragedy!”
And I don’t advocate kids playing in the street. But they are doing it nonetheless. They’re on bicycles with or without training wheels, on scooters and skateboards, even on roller skates. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started pogo-sticking down the street soon. I just feel sorry for that one slow kid trying to keep up with them on his Sit N Spin.
Of course, there are still kids driving golf carts, four-wheelers and those little motorized toy vehicles made to look like little miniature cars and trucks. As someone who had to pedal his modes of transportation at age 6, such as my trusty Big Wheel, I still have some sort of moral objection to letting kids that age travel without working for it.
I didn’t ride my Big Wheel in the street, though. I rode it on the sidewalk, much to the chagrin of a couple of old ladies who lived two doors down and yelled at me for making noise with those plastic wheels grinding on the concrete. I told on them for fussing at me, so my dad went down and explained to them that I had a constitutional right — even at age 6 — to annoy them.
I sympathize with those old ladies now, though, and not just because I’m much more like an old lady myself these days than like an active kid on a Big Wheel. I like quiet when I’m at home. All noise irritates me now — leaf-blowers, boom-boom car radios, sirens, crows, you name it — especially when I’m writing or crocheting a new doily.
Noise, though, is in the eyes — or ears — of the beholder. Tonight, I’m gonna fire up the blender on my back porch for a frozen margarita, and I’m sure some of my neighbors may consider that to be noise. I’ll then chill in my Adirondack chair and think about how bad I feel about their being so wrong about the lovely sound of ice being crushed.
Nor do I consider the sound kids playing to be noise. It’s actually music to my ears.
Well, except for that one kid on the Sit N Spin who keeps yelling, “Wait for me!”