I’m a Seattle Seahawks fan (American football, if you’re not familiar with it). As a Seahawks fan, we are expected to be loud. In fact, we not only have a reputation for it, we have held a world record for it. I’m also the middle child of five–each of us within two and a half years of each other in age–and a Navy veteran with many, many nights behind me of having no choice but to fall asleep to a chorus of shipboard noises, including the 50 or so women I shared the berthing with. So all in all, I’m well used to noise by this point in my almost 35 years of living. I wouldn’t say I thrive in it, but I’m definitely used to it.
Nothing in those 35 years prepared me for the TODDLER NOISES. My older two children were happy, cheerful kids, but when they yelled it just wasn’t the same as this, my youngest. Sure, they laughed, they chattered, they cried, they yelled…but this one SHRIEKS. He shrieks when he’s happy and laughing, and he shrieks when he’s mad. He screams with this ear-splitting mass of sound that leaves my ears vibrating from the decibel that he hits and sets my teeth on edge. It’s worse in the car, when I can’t escape from it. I have tried to turn up the radio loud enough that it drowns out his angry screams (Maybe he dropped his toy and is demanding that I pick it up RIGHT NOW!), but I can’t get it loud enough unless I’m willing to put my (or his) hearing even more in danger than it already is from the screaming, and I’m really not. (He’ll damage his own hearing when he’s a teenager anyway, right?)
When he’s happy-screaming, it’s almost cute, as long as I’m not too close to him. It’s hard to be upset with a child who is being chased by his older sibling and is laughing and shrieking with both laughter and fake terror as he runs in his little quick-step toddler running steps. If you’ve ever seen a toddler sprint, you know what I mean–it’s adorable. And a happy child is what most of us parents strive for, right? I mean, a happy toddler brings joy, laughter, and smiles to the faces of the adults around them. I’ve seen it happen–those toddler smiles and the laugh just works magic on us cranky adults. So, I let it go when he’s happy-screaming.
When he’s mad-screaming, though, is another story entirely. It aggravates. It infuriates. It makes me think my brain will try and escape from my head by crawling out of my eyes. (This is why I often close my eyes during LOUD NOISES.) In my saner moments, I can laugh at it a little, and it reminds me of a certain part of a movie called Anchorman–to summarize, the main male characters are all in the office yelling at their boss, and one of the guys simply yells “I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT!” and “LOUD NOISES!!” Sometimes, I just want to cover my ears when he’s yelling and yell “LOUD NOISES!” myself. I often don’t know what he’s yelling about, so “I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT!” would work also. It flashes through my head and makes me smile a little every time I think about it.
Remembering that segment gives me the ability to remember that sometimes toddlers yell and shout, and make noises just because they’re upset about something trivial. Sometimes they throw tantrums, and argue for the sake of arguing, and they SHRIEK; but ultimately my toddler will grow out of this phase, as long as I can stay sane. Sanity is not always the easiest of tasks, but if I can retain my wits during this, admittedly LOUD and NOISY phase of life, calmer times will be ahead. At least the shrieking should stop at some point, right? Heck, people say I will miss these years once they’re past. I highly doubt I will miss the shrieking, but you never know–anything’s possible.
p.s. If you want to check out the clip I mentioned, here’s a link to it: