Do you hear that? That, my friends, is the sound of my children talking. Why yes, it does sound like they’re screaming. And that’s the problem. You see, every word that comes out of their mouths is Caps Lock, and no amount of Ctrl-Alt-Delete can stop them. They are what you call “loud talkers.”
In fact, everything with my children is high volume. Their music: curse you, Kidz Bop. Their robot battle noises: SURRENDER OR DIE EVIL ALIEN! SKERRR-PLOOSSHH! And even when they are in the shower: (insert any song here). While I imagine it must be wonderful to be so totally stoked you had to holler every syllable, I really can’t remember ever being that excited for more than 10 minutes. Maybe I’m getting old?
So, I try (unsuccessfully) to modify their behavior. Every day I repeat the same phrases: “Use your indoor voice,” and “I’m right here; you don’t have to yell everything you say.” Yet, they are seemingly incapable of doing this. It’s like telling the movie Airplane! to stop being hilarious.
As you may imagine, this scream-speaking causes a few problems for me that no amount of Tylenol can relieve. Here’s a snapshot of what a few dozen strangers overheard last week in the grocery store: (1) “My mom said the ‘S’ word!” (2) “Mommy, why do you hide food?” And my personal favorite, (3) “You know what pee tastes like!” Unfortunately, everything they hollered is true. But, what the horrified strangers didn’t hear was the explanation. Allow me to clarify.
Sins 1 & 2
First of all, I did indeed say the “S” word. But it isn’t the big hairy one you’re thinking of. You see, in our house we have a rule against saying the word “stupid.” I usually obey my own rules, but when the stacked-up shopping carts at the grocery store are stuck together so tight that I’m forced to mount them in order to pull them apart, I’m gonna call them names. Trust me, “stupid” was the least offensive word I could say after my mouth committed to the first consonant. I should get a medal for my restraint.
As for hiding food: no, I am not a hoarder. I also do not have an eating disorder. My problem is my secret romance with peanut M&Ms. It’s my guilty little pleasure. Unfortunately, my boys and my husband will eat every last delicious love nugget in one sitting if I don’t hide them. So I squirrel them away in a place where no man, or child, would dare go. I stash them behind my cleaning supplies. Genius, right?
Now, About the Urine
My husband thinks it’s super funny to tell our boys this one particular story of when they were babies. I was changing Reece’s diaper and talking away to my little guy, when, like a geyser, he erupted. You got it, straight into my opened mouth. It was awful. But I couldn’t just walk away, so I quickly finished diapering him and then spent the next few hours trying to bleach my tongue. Nevertheless, it is now a sad fact that I do, indeed, know what pee tastes like. Just not by choice.
I am fully aware, in the end, that my sons’ loud-talking is entirely my fault. When my children first started to speak, I foolishly encouraged them. Mea culpa. And, truth be told, when I was their age, I had a nickname that described my own high-octane nature: Motor Mouth. (Hey, at least they come by it honestly.) Now, I’m not saying this high-volume atmosphere is for the faint of heart; it’s primarily for the hard of hearing. But at least my boys are enthusiastic. They are living a life out loud; and what more could I ask of them? So pump it up boys, we’re going to the grocery store again!
Jane Suter is one funny mom. To share some of your own parenting experiences with Jane, write to her at email@example.com. Illustration by Colleen Johnson.