My wife and I have always lived in an apartment. Apartment life has suited us well, as we have moved every year, and we haven’t had the savings that we felt we needed to purchase a house. My daughter has always known her “neighbors”, and they were always closer than the other side of the fence. We had an upstairs neighbor once that did civil war reenactments and would argue the merits of revisiting the secession of the South. He firmly believes that it was the right thing to do. We had Canadian friends, a family in which the father was a songwriter, who lived next door on the royalties of a song he wrote for a Canadian sitcom. We have known college kids, video game junkies, single parents and variuos pastors and preachers. It has been a good run, but I am realizing now the impact that sharing our space has on raising our kids.
When one of the kids wakes up in the night. I am concerned that they will disturb the neighbors. I would prefer to let them learn to go back to sleep on their own, but letting them cry it out is hard because I worry that we are keeping everyone up. So I typically will go and get them. My kids have figured this out, and they know that, if they persist, they will get a response. The same thing happens when they are struggling to figure out how to interact with one another. If they are not physically injured, it is my tendency to let them work it out. I wouldn’t intervene over who had the toy first, but if they break the sound threshold that I feel is inappropriate for our downstairs neighbors, then I feel compelled to quiet them.
The kids are not allowed to run or stomp in the house. The noise from it bothers my wife, but she is not home with them during the day. I don’t notice usually, as I probably run and stomp around as much as they do, but when the neighbors are home I keep it under control. Sometimes if the kids are hungry for attention while I am cleaning or cooking or writing, they will run and stomp. They know that they will get some response, then at least they have my attention.
I have written before about the value of renting as a lifestyle choice, and the caution that everyone should experience when buying a house, but today I write with the wince of hearing my children scream and knowing that they are leveraging our situation in order to get what they want. I think that they will always find a way to do that, but right now the situation that they exploit is our apartment lifestyle.