Living Next Door to All-of-us.
Our neighbour is leaving. There’s a “To Let” sign on the lawn outside, and the other day when I was screaming at the top of my lungs, “WOULD YOU JUST REFILL THE SUGAR BOWL?!” to the general population of male offspring in my household, I realised that we may be the reason.
I mean, there’s been a lot of rugby in the last month, and then the Soccer World Cup began, and this results in a great deal of indiscriminate screaming and yelling- not by me this time. Starts off with over-enthusiastic accompaniments to national anthems, clapping and cheerleading, followed by insults and anger yelled loudly at the ref. But what is probably most alarming is the rate at which the volume and fervour escalates at try/goal time. I often have to hide behind kitchen cupboards covering my ears with the dischcloths until it subsides. Unless it’s a team I support, then my voice is added. Four projected, bass voices accompanied by Ethan’s ear-splitting squawks and my high pitched screams is just a regular weekend chorus around here, but it probably goes through the air sounding like murder.
Once a male child gets to the age of thirteen, there’s no longer day to day instruction, like when they were toddlers or even tweens, the “this-is-how-things-work” instruction. The foundation is laid, the principles are set, so now it’s, “you-know-this-is-how-things-work-so-what-the-heck-is-going-on-that-you-don’t-do-it” kind of instruction. Character stuff, consequences stuff, before we mothers lose our minds. They exhibit laziness and sassiness, and the use of a sense of humour and pretend yelling on my part is my saving grace. Well, their saving grace, but I don’t tell them that.
For example, they were mysteriously absent to help unload groceries from the car when I returned the other day. I yelled from the garage (please bear in mind, it has to travel through the lounge, kitchen, passage, into the bedrooms and possibly overcome earphones….) “If you want to live here and be fed, come and help with the shopping!” As I stopped, the To Let sign came to mind again, and I mumbled, Sorry, dear neighbour. But the boys responded, and it keeps life fun and sane. Well, sane-ish. What’s definitely not sane is when I yell to the far reaches of the home trying to pinpoint who is responsible for something.
Who dropped a cornflake on the floor? It’s now been stood on and disintegrated into 300 pieces and been distributed around the house, dammit.
Whose grape stalks are these left on the couch? Joshua?? (by default, it’s him)
Who touched the bin lid? It’s gross again, and I’ve just washed it!
These questions have become rhetorical, as, like the sugar-finisher that began this whole account, the cornflake-dropper, grape-guzzler and bin-messer don’t own up, but someone sorts it out. Usually, there’s this: Mom, I told you, get CCTV, then none of this will be an issue. (Said by the diligent one who’s pretty amazing at cleaning up. I will ask God why He couldn’t just make that an entry-level package for all children.)
Between the boys, there is a lot of competition. They compare muscles, leg hair, beard growth, nipple size and height. (Not height of the nipples, that could be mis-read. LOL.) The best place to do this is in the reflection of my double oven in the kitchen. But with four of them, the width of the kitchen is a bit restrictive, so they’ve discovered a large window pane that faces onto the outside paving, and they can all stand there and flex… AND discuss and compare all of the above. They didn’t come with volume control, and they get louder as they tease each other and playfully diss each other, all within earshot of any neighbour with a window open, as these Cape Town homes are on land smaller than a quarter acre. Loud laughter, growls while flexing and yells of, Your nipples are the size of salamis! are probably not condusive to neighbour’s children’s naps. Sigh. There is no explanation, sorry. Add to that the suntanning in underwear on the trampoline accompanied by bass-thumping playlists, the neighbour’s children might end up having a fairly traumatic childhood overall.
The wrestling can get quite out of hand, too. Especially if Heath is involved. He is very persistent. Now that the boys are beginning to match him in strength, it can go on for quite a while, with shouts of, Get off me, Dad! Aaarggghh, that’s my ballsack! Cut your nails! Owww… A.K.T.!! (Angry King Termite) Stop pinching! That’s not even right! Have you no decency?
Below is a description of one of the boys’ wrestling sessions. Heath watched from the sidelines on this one, for his own safety.
The toilet humour is something I’m accustomed to as well, by now. If someone enters the bathroom, which was recently used by a sibling, there is usually a full-blown, full-volume rant about the smell, with many colourful adjectives and insults used, so that everyone knows about it. This also applies to farts when and wherever applicable.
Fortnite is their favourite game to play on the PlayStation, and they get to play it more during the holidays. I won’t belabour the whole process, but if you’re the last one standing after sorting out the other 100 on the island before the storm swept in, it is great cause for celebration and yells of victory, accompanied by cheers from siblings who followed your every move whilst you played. Loud. Everything is just loud. If I tried to shush everything, I’d be a jibbering wreck, so I’ve given up for the sake of my sanity, and decided to let them live. It’s uncanny how many times I’ve said to Heath, “I’m so glad we’re not our neighbours!” Shame.
Due to the number of people living here, most communication is yelled, to save travel time and effort. (Basically, I’m lazy.) So it’s not quiet, and maybe the neighbours are moving because they couldn’t handle being part of the intimate details of a household of large male people. Sorry, dear neighbour. you will realise many truths when your babies are grown.
Now away with muffins and flowers… it’s time to find some noise cancelling headphones to welcome the new neighbours when they move in!
May the lessons learned in the chaos or the quiet lead you closer to Him.
Lots of love,