We live in a tight neighborhood. That is, our house is about ten feet away from the neighbors’. It is so close I can hear when the neighbor vacuums. I sometimes worry about the rambunctious nature with which we live our lives at present and it causes me to wonder what must the neighbors think of us? According to the ear perception, people probably think we are either torturing our children with some kind of medieval device or we are a completely out of control party house with no stops. I need the chance to explain my situation, people. I need to have a chance to tell you what I am dealing with over here behind the shuttered windows. So, if you hear noise coming from my house…
It could be the sound of three boys playing hide and seek, when their excitement gets to the point that they can only stay in hiding for two seconds before they run out shouting, “Here I am!!!”. I don’t think they get the game, but they are having fun.
It could be the sound of any one of them falling down, forgetting where they put a toy, or having something stolen from them by one of their brothers. A loud slow wail followed by a very long silence, where you wonder if they forgot how to breathe in their unending despair..., then a gasp, and another wail. Then a chorus of wailing rises to the rafters as each brother—and maybe even Mom—joins in the relative misery.
It could be the sound of Eli, opening and closing doors with a vigor. Slamming them and laughing wildly while he runs to the next room to open the door, enter the room, and slam it all over again. He LOVES doors. But the SLAMMING, nothing could be more fun than that!
It could be the sound of the dance parties we have every night after dinner to celebrate that all the toys are picked up. We turn up the stereo—because, yes, we still have one—and dance it out at the end of the day. We have to celebrate that we made it through to bedtime, right? M&M’s are also involved here.
It could be the sound of Reuben, saying...anything at all. He talks so loudly and the kicker is that he is my shy boy who doesn’t say a word when we go into public. He wakes us up from across the house every morning with his happy voice saying “Eli! Wake up! I want to play with you!”. He narrates dinner by telling us everything he is doing. “I am going to dip this dinotot into the honey mustard, OK?” He has one voice level—LOUD.
It could be the sound of a wild tantrum, that came out of nowhere, like a sudden hailstorm when you thought you were just enjoying a gentle rain. The screaming is intense and Boy One’s tantrum is usually caused by Boy Two’s actions, so that the very reaction of Boy One causes Boy Two to cry. Wrestling with a little boy who is kicking and screaming for reasons beyond understanding brings about a bit of shock. So in this case we have Tantrum Boy One’s noises, Crying Boy Two’s noises and Stunned Mom just trying to figure out what to do and...Boy Three is somewhere else, probably just fine.
It could be the sound of a Tired Mother at her wits end yelling at her boys to “HOLD STILL!!!” while changing their diaper, putting on their coat, or shoes, or socks, or shirt… JUST STOP WRIGGLING! I feel like Jerry McGuire, “HELP ME HELP YOU!” I just yell it over and over again, but it doesn’t seem to work. They must move or they will perish.
It could be the sound of me, trying to make dinner when Tom is still at work and there are three large, moving, human obstacles surrounded by what could be thousands of tiny, hard, plastic objects all gathered on my tiny kitchen floor. All I want to do is take a step from the stove to the sink, or the pantry to the counter and it is like a mini version of Wipe-out. I run into Tom all the time when he is home because I think I have trained myself to always look at the floor. All I want to do is make dinner without anyone getting burned or licking raw chicken juice. The second I step on something or my stress level reaches a tipping point, there is me—yelling, followed by them—crying, followed by me soothing them, ending in things burning and the fire alarm going off. AND when that happens, all three of them cry INCONSOLABLY. I should just serve yogurt.
It could be the sound of tackling, which will always include roaring laughter and two-year-olds growling like bears. Yelling and screaming definitely involved in this one, including from the parents, when the kids unwittingly tackle us in just the perfectly wrong way, causing that kind of pain that is hard to explain to little boys.
It could be the sound of Daddy, just walking through the door and the excitement is just too much to bare. Screams of joy and delight and the pounding of little feet echo from across the house when they hear the garage door open and they run open-armed to Tom, shouting “DADDY!!! YOU CAME BACK!!!” I sigh and fight my urge to drop the proverbial mother-mic and leave at this point, but I stay because the boys are finally happy and I love my husband.
After we get all the noisy ones in bed, there is little to no sound from our house. It is peaceful and we basically collapse. Going to bed is a prize. We made it through the day and the kids are all asleep. Hallelujah! So please know, dear neighbor, no matter what you hear inside our dwelling, we are a normal family who have both happiness and our share of toddler tears. All I ask is for no judgement—or at least low judgement—when the noise breaks through the walls. And that you would say a little prayer for me, from my house to your ears, from your lips to God’s.