Please do be quiet: an historical bedtime story

Friday, September 13th, 2013

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(A bedtime story influenced more by Leah’s actions than her words.)

There was a time when your grandmas, grandmas, grandmas, grandma was only three months old, when it wasn’t silence that was cherished from young children, but loud noise making.

Adults would sit around all day in quiet rooms watching quiet children play with horse hair, velvet pillows and soft kittens. Everything was quiet, and it drove many people of the time crazy.

“Why can’t we have a child like everyone else who yells and screams and keeps everybody awake at night,” common kings would ask their common queens in all seriousness.

“Oh king, you know we’re not the only one with a quiet kid,” she’s answer. “We’d all like a loud baby but they just don’t exist.”

You see, people wanted loud children because before electricity, it was common for people to fall asleep at 5 p.m. when it was dark outside. Candles didn’t throw nearly enough light to stay awake to, so it was the rare family who was still awake talking at even 8 p.m.

They’d watch anxiously as one found its way over to a silver dining table spoon were that family wealthy enough to have one and hope that the child would bang it against a chair or the floor so they’d finally hear some noise.

There was one child who served as the model for all other children, Princess Leah of Reynolds who yelled more and yelled louder than any other child in the world. Leah would yell if someone tickled her, she’d yell if someone didn’t tickle her. She’d yell if you gave her chicken for dinner and she’d yell if you took it away. House Reynolds rarely slept before 11 p.m. and everyone in the kingdom figured they must spend all their waking hours smiling so much that their teeth hurt.

But inside House Reynolds, things were different. After a few weeks of late nights they started remembering the days where they fell asleep after supper a little more fondly. then, after about a year, they forgot what it was like to sleep at all. By the time Princess Leah was three-years-old, the king and queen Reynolds had started talking in public about how wonderful people with quiet children had it.

“You’ll never sleep again,” they proclaimed to everyone who would be proclaimed to.

“That sounds wonderful,” the uneducated would wonder.

“But it’s not. You need sleep to be able to live. We will come and live with each and every one of you so you can see how loud Princess Leah is and how hard it is to walk and eat chicken when you haven’t slept in eight days.”

The people thought this a good idea and for the next year the House Reynolds moved from lower house to lower house, preaching the importance of sleeping children. At the end of that year, all the families in the kingdom were in agreement, a lively child was nice throughout the day, but at night, calm was better than calamity. On the other end, all the other little children had seen how much fun Princess Leah had running around throwing things and had become nearly unruly. All the quiet children were now noisy children, and that was no longer the ideal.

Ever since, your grandma and her grandma and her grandma, have been asking their children to be quiet at night. Give it a try.

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