Noise Pollution

A few weeks ago, after visiting a local classroom, a friend of mine had this to say about it: “Kelly, you would have hated it.” Not, “I hated it,” or even “Anyone would have hated it,” but that I, in particular, and (I am assuming) no one else, would have hated this classroom. When I asked her why, she explained to me that this teacher’s method for restoring peace and quiet in the classroom was to sing her students a special “quiet time” song.

Ever quick to rush to my own defense, I pointed out that I, too, have been known to use the soothing powers of music to quiet down my children: in fact, just last week I had used the dulcet tones of Alanis Morrisette cranked up to 11 in an effort to establish order between the battling siblings in the back seat. The week before that I had used my favorite Fear tape, and the week before that it was The Pretenders. Whether or not any of these songs actually quieted them down or not I couldn’t say: all I know is that, acoustically wrapped in the screeching voice of my own choosing, I, at least was calm.

Really, I think this may be the best way to soothe a howling child since the advent of “baby whispering”; after all, isn’t not hearing a screaming child practically the same thing as not having one? If you don’t believe me then try it out for yourself, but first, a word of warning is in order: for this system to achieve optimal results, you, yourself, must really like the music you are blaring. It’s kind of the same as the theory about smoke and bars, the one that states that if you’re surrounded by a cloud of your own smoke, then the smoke of others won’t seem so bad. The problem with this theory is that it only holds true for those who smoke to begin with; for others, like myself (who can’t operate a lighter without burning my fingers, let alone successfully inhale an entire cigarette), this defense against indoor air pollution is particularly useless.

And so it with using music to combat back seat noise pollution: you, yourself, must be able to handle the music you are playing before you use it as a protective shield. This means that, while you may be tempted to give them the Manuel Noriega treatment and try to blast them into submission with some truly heinous tape you picked up at a yard sale, you really should reconsider following this particular course of action: after all, these are the same people who grew up singing along with Barney–who’s really going to come out the worst from an extended top-volume playing of Menudo?

If, however, you already own a steady supply of tapes that you love and your children loathe (in my case, that’s the only type of tapes I own), then you’re all set for total front seat domination. One final caveat, though: remember, what goes around comes around, and it won’t be that long until you’re the one cringing in the back seat as their musical selections come blaring out of the stereo. If, knowing this, you decide to take it a little bit easy on them, well, good for you. If, on the other hand, you’re like me, go ahead and use this as one of your last chances to pack in all the retribution you can for the coming years of crimes against musical nature that loom ahead. After all, it could be even worse than you could ever imagine: your children could grow up to like jazz.

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