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To the Parents Sleep Training Their 2-Year-Old in the Apartment Downstairs

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Parents Who Are Sleep Training Your 2-Year-Old in the Apartment Downstairs,

We all know living in an apartment complex can be challenging when you have kids. Take it from me. I've been living in this fourplex for a lifetime, since my swinging single pre-kid 30s. I've seen it all. I've heard it all. I remember a family in the lower unit almost deterred me from ever having kids altogether. The noise from their 3-year-old, as heard piping through the drafty bathroom window channel that we all share, was deafening. Wow, kids are noisy as fuck. That sucks, I thought. Little did I know ...

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Before you moved in a couple of years ago, a young couple lived in your unit. If I didn’t get a noise complaint from them once a day about how loud I slammed the door to the washer/dryer room, I thought they were dead. Things changed a bit when they had a baby, but only for the worse. Now they requested that my kids play “in the front" because "baby's sleeping!" My kids’ room is on top of their kid's room "in the back."

No prob. I got it. Happy to help. Even though it was annoying and my kids wanted to play in their own fucking room, I understood. This is what you do when you have neighbors. Mutual respect. It’s a constant juggle of treading lightly, trying not to make too much noise and always lowering the volume on my son AJ's keyboard. I try to keep it down, too. My voice is loud. I like it that way, but noise travels down the skinny alleys of the cramped Hollywood streets. So I try to quiet myself as much as possible.

That being said, I would like to address last night.

Firstly, I want to say thank you for being about two years late with your efforts to sleep train your annoying kid, who by the way, screams louder than any kid or animal that’s been hit by a car, even when he's not being sleep trained.

If it's OK for you to let your kid scream bloody murder for 90 minutes then you need to make sure your neighbors can plan for it.

Last night was magnificent. It was about 2 a.m. when your kid decided he needed his mama and made sure the whole neighborhood was in on his plan for the following hour or so. I started to count his cries for Mama the way normal people count sheep when they can’t sleep. It seems your kids have no bedtime.

It’s not at all odd to hear them playing, loudly, like it's noon, at say … 9:30, 10:00, 10:30 p.m., etc. I would ask if you are Scientologists. I hear they don’t believe in bedtimes and let their kids run wild until they tire themselves out or something insane like that. But I know you're not Scientologists. You're Jewish like me! And you celebrate Judaism in all its excellence and fun with loud, lengthy Shabbat dinners every week to celebrate the coming of the Sabbath. How fun that every Friday we Jews get to party hardy, like clockwork, and in your case, it's with your kids, deep into the wee hours of Saturday like it's 1999. No wonder I used to throw after-hour parties in my 20s. Maybe it's in our blood.

But now I'm tired—really tired. And I just can't Shabbat like an All-Star anymore. I'm in bed at 10 on Friday night, unlike your 2- and 4-year-old. They really know how to whoop it up. Maybe they'll go into the after-hour nightlife business like I did. Clearly, they've already established the schedule and stamina.

Back to screaming kids and last night’s “mama” fest. Have you read any books on sleep training? I don’t think you have because you would have tried this over a year ago. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I think you are supposed to go in the room every now and then and check on said hysterical child, just before said screaming child wakes up the whole neighborhood. The crying to sleep thing didn't seem to work. My son and I (both fully up by now) waited patiently for the cries to soften or wane. They didn't.

I suppose this is what I get when in live in an apartment, surrounded by families with kids. It's not just you. I'm also baffled by the 9:30 p.m. baths of our other neighbors’ kids and their subsequent 11 p.m. bedtimes. You all make me feel normal for five minutes.

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My question is, when does not comforting your kid for two minutes because he is waking up the building become just plain rude? Listen, I have been there. And when I attempted sleep training, I warned my neighbors and dropped a coffee cake on their doorstep the next morning. If it's OK for you to let your kid scream bloody murder for 90 minutes then you need to make sure your neighbors can plan for it.

I would have put my 6-year-old son on the couch for the night, where he would have been immune to the screams. But no, he was in my bed with me. As you can see, my sleep training efforts never worked out. I just couldn't put my neighbors through it.


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