Can you hear me now?

“Guess which ear is ringing,” Madison says. This is a game she likes to play.

You know that superstition that if your ears are ringing someone is talking about you? In Teen Town that belief goes a step further. If it’s your right ear then they’re saying something good. If it’s your “wrong ear” (one of many Madison-isms) then it’s something bad.

Usually it’s her right ear but last night it was her wrong left ear. Must have been because of me. I said she’s listening to her music way too loud and she’s going to have permanent hearing damage. Why else would her ears ring so frequently?

When she’s not hanging out with friends you can find her lounging on our purple couches, plugged into her laptop, blasting tunes. “Madison. Madison!” I wait. No acknowledgment she even knows I’m in the room. “MADISON! It’s too loud!”

“WHAT?!” she yells, pulling out her ear buds.

“Turn it down!” I yell back. I notice that I do this often – add to the noise pollution when I’m asking for quiet. Like when the dogs bark at the mailman and I scream, “SHUT UP, IDIOTS!” When people are in the living room talking too loud or the television is blaring I will yell from the bedroom, “BE QUIET! You’re going to wake the baby!”


Click to hear one of Madison’s favorite songs
I take all the credit for her appreciation of 80′s music

When I was Madison’s age I was blowing out my eardrums with my Walkman. Remember how back in the day headphones used to short out on one side so that you could only hear music in one ear? How annoying was that?! I’m glad headphones have improved but sometimes they can be played at levels greater than 110 decibels. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires noise protection to be used if workers are exposed to 110 decibels for more than 30 minutes.  But how do you know how many decibels you’re listening to? To play it safe experts say to follow the simple rule of thumb: If the person next to you can hear your music then it’s too loud.


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