Screaming bloody murder and other forms of stress relief
We live in an older, workingclass neighborhood that provides a rich assortment of things to look out the window and wonder about, most of which are inconsequential and mildly amusing. My window-gazing train of thought on many mornings goes something like this:
What are those weird plants? Why is that car parked there? Whose chihuahua is peeing on my fig tree? Why does the ice cream man play Christmas tunes all summer long? How much does it cost to replace the music on an ice cream truck? Should we get a fund together? Maybe get him a Christmas gift of some non-Christmas music. Hahaha. Do those people in that house realize they are up to 15 or 20 cats? Maybe they’re just trying to outdo the place with the 15 or 20 chickens. Either way, the vacant lot between them is starting to look like an episode of BBC’s Planet Earth. And how many times does the guy across the street need to wash his car? It’s cleaner than mine has been since I drove it off the lot. Who knows? He must have his reasons. (Shrug.)
No big deal, mostly. I’m someone who prefers moderate chaos to living under the bland tyranny of an HOA.
Lately, though, I’ve noticed something more disturbing. It sounds like something is terrorizing the children in our neighborhood. That has to be it, because they wouldn’t just be screaming like that for fun… would they?
Am I just not remembering right? I’m trying to be objective here. When I was a kid, we all had tons of energy and made a lot of noise for sure…but I don’t remember any of us just screaming our heads off for hours at a time, purely for pleasure. I’m not talking about yelling back and forth or occasionally screeching with excitement…I mean SCREAMING, like bloody murder, but seemingly for the absolute heck of it.
Maybe I’m out of touch, but I can tell you my little brother and I never, ever did that, and neither did any of my cousins, friends, or schoolmates.
This trend seems to have taken hold recently, like in the last five years or so. And it isn’t just one kid—it’s all of them. Jumping on a trampoline and screaming. Playing in a kiddie pool and screaming. Running around their front yards and just screeeeeeeeaming. Turns out they’re not being terrorized, but I am. Each extended shriek is like a serrated blade shredding my central nervous system.
As much as this screaming thing drives me nuts, though, I’ve been trying to muster up some understanding. Life is so much different today than it was in the drinking-from-the-garden-hose era. Screaming obviously feels good to these kids… maybe it’s the only thing that relieves the tension of their micro-managed, precaution-saturated young lives. So, like I did a few years ago when a group of elementary-schoolers took to playing in my yard uninvited, sampling the figs from the above-mentioned tree and then throwing them at each other, I try to offer up a little benefit of the doubt.
My version of screaming bloody murder is singing in the car, and trust me—no one wants to hear that. My husband prefers playing softball all weekend, or dozing through a full Saturday of zombie movies
(more screaming). Maybe my car-washing neighbor with the young family is just trying to get a few minutes of time to himself. Maybe the ice cream guy really likes year-round Christmas music. Maybe the kids picking my figs have only lived in apartment complexes, so in their minds, a front yard is a common area, like a park. Scream-rattled or not, it does my heart good to think of my street as a place where we can all feel comfortable letting off some steam.
Our nerves are all worn thin these days, and the tension points in all directions. I’m finding that the more I remind myself to cut people some slack, the closer I get to my own inner peace.