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May Children Be Noisy

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

SOMEBODY has declared that he "wouldn't give a snap" for youngsters who didn't make a noise, meaning that their disposition to stillness showed that they lacked vigor. This in many cases might be true; but whether we can agree with the proposition generally depends a good deal upon when and where the noise is made, and what it is about; also, who is the maker. We are likely to be more annoyed by a racket coming out of our neighbors' yard than with that which is going out of our own-a fact worth remembering! Much of the noise made by children cannot be prevented, in fairness, and ought not to be. A good part of both the crowing and the crying of babies is merely exercise; and this is largely true of the tots in the nursery and of the smaller children on the playground, whose shrill cries and shouts, laughter and friendly wrangling, are a part of nature's method of developing chest and lungs and larynx in the human animal. If the racket is near by we don't like it-but what's the use of scolding? Better betake ourselves to a quieter place than spoil the fun and get ourselves hated. When we grown-ups get excited at a ball-game, or when election-returns are coming in, do we not wake the echoes-sometimes with horns and cannon to help us? Think of that when the youngsters make a great din. "'Tis their nature to," and is probably doing them good. Of course in the house, school-room and other unsuitable places or time, skylarking and noisy behavior must be controlled, but in general be chary of suppressing the happy clamor of proper play, because there will come times when you must do so and expect prompt obedience, willingly given because it is felt you must have a good reason for the unusual request. "There are people," to quote Mr. E. H. Abbott, "for whose nerves children should be made to have some regard; there are invalids who do not thrive on din; there is necessary work which cannot be done in the midst of a racket; there are neighbors who declare, with some show of right, that they regard monopoly in noise as against public policy. So, whether for Cousin Bettina's nerves, or a tired mother's rest, or a busy father's interview with a creditor, or merely for the sake of reputation with the neighbors, it may be best to disregard all other factors and insist on quiet." Now it will not be easy to insist on quiet on such occasions unless you endure reasonable noise under ordinary circumstances. Deal fairly by the little ones and they will deal fairly by you.

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