Gabbie had no time for silence. She felt that adventures are better when accompanied by noise. When she was sad everyone within a hundred meter radius knew it and when anger gripped her that distance doubled. Her tantrums were few and far between given her generally cheery disposition but still, she knew how to express her displeasure.
Take last summer when the ice cream cart at the boardwalk near her uncle’s cottage was out of Astropops. Gabbie’s small face had frozen then slowly every part of it had scrunched. Her nose had wrinkled, her blue eyes had squinted, and her lips pursed in a frightening imitation of her maternal grandmother. The yell she had emitted then was more emotion than words. Shoppers, swimmers, and the young man working at the ice cream cart had looked at her with expressions ranging from pity to extreme disapproval. Gabbie’s mom had not been fazed. She had gripped Gabbie’s hand firmly and pulled her daughter away, unhurriedly, down the street. Meanwhile, Gabbie continued to express her unhappiness.
Gabbie remembers her mother’s hand, slightly sweaty but delicate intertwining with her fingers as they waited at a stoplight on the way back to the cottage. It was a quiet intersection but her mother insisted on waiting for the ‘Walk’ light to appear before they crossed. They waited. As she stood there beside her mother Gabbie’s anger dissipated slowly leaving her to merely grumble in frustration as her mother tugged her along when the lights changed. It was quiet in the cottage village as Gabbie and her mother progressed through the various roads on the way to her Uncle Jack’s cottage. Although he insisted it was a cabin Gabbie thought that sounded too rustic – after all it had running water. “I’m sorry Mommy,” said Gabbie just before they turned onto Bermuda Road where the cabin was situated.
“Are you?” responded her mother, “What for?”
“I’m sorry for being loud and making a scene,” stated Gabbie promptly, glancing up at her mother who was just one step ahead of her and so she could not see her face. Gabbie loved her mother dearly. They were opposites in many ways but she often insisted that they had more in common than her daughter thought.
Gabbie’s mother stopped at the gate to Uncle Jack’s cottage. Instead of unhinging the gate and walking onto the porch to light the mosquito candles before settling in to read in the late afternoon heat she withdrew her hand from the gate. Turning around and freeing her other hand from Gabbie’s grip her mother squatted so that she could look her daughter in the eyes. “I do not want you to be sorry for causing a minor ruckus Gabbie. Noise is a part of life. What I want you to realize is why your reaction was uncalled for given the situation, do you understand?”
Gabbie’s forehead crinkled as she tried to parcel out the message of her mother’s words, “So I should be sorry for yelling at the man at the cart because…” she trailed off as her six-year-old mind tried to come up with the correct response.
“Because he had no control over the situation,” interjected her mother, “Does that make sense to you?”
Gabbie thought over her mother’s words. “Yes,” she said slowly dragging out the ‘s’ sound in her response as she considered her earlier reaction, “I should have apologized to him.”
“You can tomorrow,” stated her mother. She stood up, “And Gabbie, noise has its time and place. Do not let other people tell you that you have no right to speak your mind or express your emotions.” Her mother smiled at her then, as she reached around to unhinge the gate, “Just try to articulate,” she paused, fixing her daughter with a look, “your thoughts in a more accessible way. Sometimes screaming is necessary, but only rarely.”
Gabbie nodded in agreement as her mother walked up onto the porch, “I think we have some strawberry ice cream in the freezer Gabbers,” she called as she walked into the cottage kitchen. Gabbie smiled and followed her mother.
As her mother doled out generous helpings of ice cream for the two of them Gabbie retrieved spoons and napkins. She murmured to herself as she mulled over selecting a spoon. Then she debated whether she wanted to fold the napkins into traditional triangles or into frogs. After dismissing frogs as impractical and too difficult Gabbie folded each napkin into an exact triangle.
“Do you want sprinkles Gabbie?” asked her mother once she looked up from the second napkin that she had pressed into a perfect triangle.
“No, thank you, Mommy.” Gabbie wiggled in her kitchen chair excited for her ice cream. She accepted it gratefully from her mother, “It looks good!” she exclaimed as soon as she had the bowl in her hands. Her mother smiled again and twitched her nose but did not say anything. Gabbie loved her mother. Sometimes though she wondered how her mother could love her so much when they were so different.
Gabbie’s mother preferred silence to noise. She spent her time reading and writing. She could easily spend a whole day whiling away the hours thinking. Those free days were few and far between ever since Gabbie came into her life though. From then on, she had taken a crash course in appreciating noise because, to her noise now equaled life. If Gabbie wasn’t making noise then something was wrong. Gabbie had no time for silence and her mother could not be happier about it.