This incident reminded me of my child-rearing days and made me glad I'm the grandma now....
"O.K., Ainsley, time for bed," announced Julie, my daughter-in-law, to our three year old granddaughter. Our family had arrived early that afternoon for a week together at our timeshare on Hilton Head Island. With energy and enthusiasm, Ainsley had explored our new digs including the beach, the pool and the buttons on the elevator.
"She must be exhausted."
"She'll go right to sleep."
"She'll sleep like a log. No doubt about that," we all said as Ainsley exchanged "Good nights" and "Sleep tights" and blew kisses to everyone.
With blankie in tow, Julie and Ainsley headed to the front bedroom. As the bedroom door closed, we heard Ainsley ask, "Will you lay down with me, Mommy?"
"Just for a little while," was the soft reply.
Tempering our high spirits, those of us in the living room turned the television down, used our indoor voices, and stifled our laughter. We anticipated Julie's return as Ainsley drifted quickly into a sound sleep.
Time passed. Julie did not return.
At 9:30 p.m., we laughed and joked (quietly) that not only Ainsley, but Julie, too, must have fallen asleep. They had a hard first day at the beach, we said. No noise emanated from the bedroom. We played a quiet game of cards and made plans for the next day.
At last, the bedroom door opened and Julie strode into the living room - trailed closely by a blinking, squinting-into-the-light Ainsley.
We looked first at Julie and then at Ainsley and back again at Julie.
"What happened?" we gasped in unison.
"She has heard every noise in this building and the next and the whole universe. That's what happened!" Julie said in exasperation. "'Mommy, what's that noise?' she kept asking. 'Ainsley, that's the elevator. That's someone walking outside. That's a door closing. That's a car horn.' It was endless."
"I tried everything. I turned on the ceiling fan to block the noise and she still heard every noise. I ignored her and she played with my hair."
Ainsley stood in the middle of the room, eyes wide, sucking her thumb, fondling her blanket, looking at us and listening. The expression on her face asked 'Did I do something wrong?'
"I turned on the bathroom exhaust fan to create even more background noise and she still kept asking, "'Mommy what's that noise?' I give up!"
Eventually, we all did go to sleep that night, Ainsley in bed with her parents, but when Julie emerged from the bedroom after a night of fitful catnaps, her first words were, "We're buying a noise machine."
"That's an odd thing to be buying after last night," I said. "You want more noise?"
With a laugh, Julie said, "No. Absolutely not. It's not like it sounds. It's a small device like a humidifier that produces a soft static hum to mask other noises."
The better part of the afternoon was spent in search of a reasonably priced noise machine. After an internet search, phone calls to friends for recommendations and to stores to determine immediate availability, a noise machine was installed and operating in the bedroom prior to Ainsley's bedtime.
Once again, we smugly congratulated ourselves as Julie and Ainsley marched toward the bedroom. Ainsley would sleep tonight assuring a peaceful night of sleep for all.
But moments later, as Julie gently closed the bedroom door, Ainsley's little voice drifted into the living room asking, "Mommy, what's that noise?"
Wanda Lane lives in Sun City Hilton Head.