Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Owl and the Woodpecker

Sometimes, neighbors suck.

A few years ago a couple moved in to the apartment next door after the previous tenant, an angst-filled businessman who looked like he never slept, decided he couldn't deal with the stress of city life and moved back to the suburbs to get married. The new neighbors seemed completely harmless at first. Of course, this is New York, so it wasn't as though they came knocking on my door the first day to say hello, but they were friendly in the hallway and made nice small talk during the morning waits for the elevator. They were mindful to turn off their loud music by 10 PM every night, and their social gatherings never reached obnoxiously audible levels (unlike the old neighbor, who used to throw loud parties with all his frat buddies from college). I thought they were decent people and was glad to have relatively quiet, reasonable people living next door...until Emma came along.

Emma was a teeny tiny terrier mix that was part Chihuahua, part something else, and part spawn of the devil. Emma also had vocal chords that would impress Whitney Houston. That dog drove me to the brink of insanity. Barking all hours of the night and day, Emma was relentless in making her presence known to all residents of the ninth floor...and probably the 37th, as well. She was perceptive, too. If I saw her headed out for her morning walk when I was headed out for the day, I would give her the evil eye - and she would start howling and yapping away. The dog was the size of an overgrown rodent, but boy oh boy could she make noise. I thanked my lucky stars the day Emma and her owners moved away.

In The Owl and the Woodpecker, Brian Wildsmith cleverly tells the tale of two neighbors who just don't get along. Woodpecker is up all day making noise, which makes it hard for Owl to sleep. Owl and Woodpecker's beef escalates so much that other forest animals try to intervene, but to no avail. However, Owl experiences a change of heart once Woodpecker and his pecking save Owl's life.

I only wish that I could have found something redeeming out of all of Emma's noise. Truthfully, there was absolutely nothing that came from it but severe annoyance and headaches from sleep deprivation. I guess the lesson I learned was that I shouldn't have ever complained about the shouty, fist-pumping ragers my ex-neighbor threw. In comparison to Emma, they sounded like the New York Philharmonic playing a grand symphony next door.

Living with other people can be tough. It's not just neighbors - it can be a new sibling, or visiting relatives. It's an important lesson to learn to live with the things we find irritating in others. Children especially need to be taught to live harmoniously with those around them. It's a key lesson in growing up. The Owl and the Woodpecker presents this priceless information in a fun, easy to understand, and easy to digest manner. Pick up your copy today!

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