As somebody who has never had children but grew up with five younger sisters and two younger brothers, I can say with certainty that there is very little more offensive to the ears than a screaming two year old. If the child is screaming because it's scared, then they can be forgiven. I can even forgive the young human if it's tired, hungry, or needs a diaper change and cannot yet communicate in one of the many languages employed across the planet. What I cannot forgive, though, is the child that is screaming for no apparent reason other than to gain attention from the world around them. When this happens on a train the problem is exacerbated thanks to reverberation, echo, and other acoustical problems that come with public travel. My tolerance for this criminally regular occurrence came to a head yesterday when a mother was doing nothing to calm her screaming toddler for the long trek into Nagoya.
Despite my headphones and the maximum volume setting, the boy's lung capacity and high-pitched screeching we're able to effectively cancel out the music and force several dozen passengers in the car to move elsewhere and reach for their own headphones. Since the mother was clearly not interested in being a parent and teaching her child manners, the responsibility fell to me ... the closest person to the wailing knot of unrestrained energy.
"うるさいな～1" I shouted when the kid was 30 seconds into a heavy squeal.
Like I said earlier, many people had already stood up and moved to the other end of the vehicle or to other cars by this point, but I wasn't going to give in. I don't fart in trains to be considerate to the other people breathing the same air. Parent's shouldn't be allowed to let their kids scream bloody hell for no good reason for the entire 25-minute trip to town.
The train became very, very quiet after I shouted. The kid just stared at me. The mother's mouth was agape. 20 other passengers, all at the far end of the train, were staring at me both in shock and relief. Some had even removed their headphones to see if I'd continue. I didn't. I just stared at the kid like I do to my dog when she tips over her food bowl because she's unhappy with today's menu.
The mother quickly recovered from her momentary shock and said in a gentle voice, "Please be quiet on the train." The boy just nodded and sat in silence for the rest of the trip.
If I had done something like that when I were young my parents would have beat me with an aluminum pole and proudly displayed the evidence of the (several) beatings2 on the front lawn as a warning to other children who don't keep their voice at a reasonable volume in public places. Shame we can't do that here in Japan ...