Around 1 p.m. today, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will begin their practice run around the Bay Area in preparation for the Fleet Week Air Show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
As they perform their high-speed stunts overhead, their heart-pounding vroom-swoosh-roar will burn our eardrums, rattle our homes and send our dogs into barking fits.
Within minutes of their arrival, I know my email box will begin to fill up with messages from the several local parenting Yahoo groups to which I subscribe.
Two of the messages from years’ past: “Why do the Blue Angels have to practice during nap time?” and “If it is any consolation to you, teachers all over the city are having similar troubles.”
Whether you like it or not, the Blue Angels are in town this week and for parents, daycare workers and preschool teachers trying to get little ones to nap, this can pose some problems. The sound level can allegedly get up to an ear-piercing 150 decibels and rouse even the heaviest snoozer.
And many kids are downright terrified of the planes’ intense noise.
I can remember my first child’s first Fleet Week when we lived in a 100-year-0ld Russian Hill condo directly under the planes’ path. As the jets zipped over our building, the windows shook, the chandeliers swung, and the cat hid under the bed. My daughter was especially sensitive to noise and hardly napped for four days straight.
During the Saturday air show, we took her to the roof deck, thinking she might be calmed if she saw the cause of the loud roar. This only made matters worse, and she clung to me, digging her little fingers into chest.
My kid isn’t the only one: “My daughter will be three this month,” an S.F. mom named Alley said in an interview. “Last year, the noise not only occasionally disrupted nap time but it freaked her out.”
My daughter is now in her tweens and so is her younger brother, and they’re now both thrilled by the aerial show, but I’m already counting on my 2-year-old, who still naps every day, getting a little less sleep this week. In fact, we might just skip the nap and head for a nearby hill.
For parents taking their kids to see the jets, earplugs are the key. “My wife loves the Blue Angels and we’ve taken our kids for years,” S.F. mom Elizabeth Weise said. “The key is to get earplugs and put them in long before the jets get there. Then you get to see this magnificent technology without it ruining your hearing. They think the jets are cool, though I sometimes think with all the movies with special effects they’ve seen, they don’t get how truly amazing the close-flying is.”