DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been living in our apartment for the past three years and generally enjoy it. However, the couple who live in the apartment directly above us have custody of the husband's two children (elementary age) every other weekend. I know this not because they have told me, but because without fail on these mornings we wake up to the shrill screams of the daughter while the son antagonizes her. This quickly leads to the father bellowing and general chaos for several minutes. If we do manage to fall back asleep we will be awakened again when the children come barreling down the staircase, yelling and pushing each other. I am a teacher; I truly and honestly understand that children are not and should not be placid all the time. But am I wrong to think that the adults should have more control over the situation? The children scream and carry on at other times of the day as well, but I can choose not to care about that because it's during my waking hours. Is there any way that I can leave a self-help book about parenting while sharing custody at their front door without looking passive-aggressive? Kids in a classroom benefit from structure and classroom management, so how do I gently suggest these parents try the same?
Sleepless in Baltimore
DEAR SLEEPLESS: You could definitely ponder your self-help options at the bookstore, wrestle with the proper wording of a note to go with your book choice, and find a way to sneak it against your neighbor's door.
Or you could use your words in a straightforward and matter-of-fact way, and speak to them.
Your neighbors are (very) part-time parents. Assume that they don't actually realize that the noise the children make carries so far into your apartment -- or that they are a little overwhelmed and simply are not thinking about their children's impact on you.
When the kids thump past you, you could open your door, say "hello" and ask them to use their sneaker-feet rather than their stomping-feet.