I’m cheating this week and re-posting a favorite on listening. It fits one of the prompts for this week:
2.) Listen to the sounds in your house for 5 or 10 minutes. Write about what you hear.
I used to consider myself a pretty good listener. I like quiet. In fact, I relish the ability to sit alone in silence. There are times I’ll find myself alone in the house with no sound other than the refrigerator hum (and occasional gurgle, spit, and chug because it’s been threatening to die for the past three years. Stupid refrigerator sending false death alerts. Good thing it’s not hooked up to one of those emergency alert systems. We’d owe a ton in false alarms. Note to fridge: there is NO need for you to prove you can die anytime you want by actually doing so. Also, you never signed a DNR so all I’m saying is: try it).
In the middle of the night when I wake for whatever reason: an explicable need to check that children are properly covered, to use the bathroom, to sneak downstairs and eat more Cheetos — I hear the birds. The birds sing all night long. Has that always happened in spring? Sure, I’m used to them when I wake, but shouldn’t the birds be asleep at 3:00 a.m., not perched on my window sill casually singing and glancing judging bird eyes in my kitchen window while I sneak Cheetos?
I can hear a neighbor’s music. I can hear something I’m glad I can’t see rummaging through our trash outside. I am listening to the wind against the window, listening to the wind make the tree bump against the deck, its branches swiping the window. I hear water running. I listen closely to find its source and then go jiggle the toilet handle.
On Saturday mornings, I sit and listen to the birds. I listen to the hum of the lucky for us still running fridge, maybe the rhythm of the dryer, the sizzle of the bacon. One child will bound in, all let’s get this party started. Soon there’s another, moving slower, making a shuffle sound in her slippers. Later, I’ll go to the bottom of the stairs to listen for the third. I’ll hear her turn, readjust her position under the covers, and I’ll smile. Maybe she’s enjoying the quiet of having two less people interrupt her slumber.
I listen to these things and take notice, take the time to breathe in all the different sounds.
The boy is telling me he wants to watch a movie and he needs to do it while eating blackberries. I listen and do his bidding.
The middle girl wants to go downstairs and play with her dolls while watching TV. I listen and say OK.
When the too-tall-for-11 girl wakes and comes down, she will be silent. I will smile at her, but I will be silent. She will peek into the kitchen to see what is being prepared –the bacon, eggs, applesauce, and toast — then disappear. She doesn’t want what I’m making; I know. I won’t know where she’s gone. Back to bed? Into the bathroom? Downstairs? On the sofa? I listen for her footsteps but they’re so light, going away from me, away from my attempts to listen.
Listening to her signals is becoming more difficult. Listening to her cues for leave me alone, I hate Spanish class, I don’t like the way you make cabbage, this is the best oatmeal ever, I like how you’ve done my hair, are increasingly tough. Reading her correctly, appropriately gauging her — those times are fleeting. Yet, there is an understood ability to hear one another. Without sound I will place her food on the table. Her plate is not like the others. There is oatmeal, grapes, eggs. She will appear, having made no creak of the floorboards to arrive in front of me. She will sit without the chair exhaling or scraping the floor. I will walk away, but I’m listening, listening for her acknowledgment that I knew, I sensed, I listened to her silence and responded appropriately.
For this day, the oatmeal serves as a bridge back into the ability to read her well. The whisper of “thank you” makes my ears perk up.