Silence Is A Precious, Rare Thing

I’m writing this now that the kids are in bed.  It’s quiet in the house – so quiet I can hear the faucet running outside as the soaker hose runs.   Peace and quiet are the two things that I never get when the kids are around, so obviously I cherish it.  A lot.  I need this time or I’ll have a nervous breakdown kind of cherish.


All kids are – by nature – loud.  Some are louder than others.  Mine take the “average” child decibel level and throw it out the window in an attempt to reach fighter jet capacity.  They are NEVER quiet.  At least, not all at the same time.  The thing is, if we take the Engineer out of the mix the noise level tapers down.  He’s the human version of an amplifier – that electrical component that takes energy and uses it to increase the output of a signal.

I’m not really sure why he is this way.  I could get all technical and tell you it’s a facet of his Sensory Processing Disorder caused by seeking more input.  I could say it’s because of his psychomotor overexcitabilities.  I could even tell you that it’s part of his single-minded focus and intensity.  They’re all true, and they’re all pieces of the puzzle that is my son.


His dial is stuck on high

Whatever it is, it drives me nuts.  I have my own sensitivities.  Loud loud loud! is a migraine trigger, and I cannot focus on anything else with an auditory 3-ring circus going on outside of my ears.  And since the Engineer’s volume control is stuck on high, I suffer.  That’s a mild way of putting it.  I want so desperately for him to just SHUT UP! that sometimes I’ll turn the music up as loud as I can to drown him out.

It’s not just the volume.  It’s the constant stream of consciousness, questioning, chattering, fighting, never-ending verbal spew out of his mouth.  If we ask him not to talk, he’ll start beatboxing.  If we put a stop to that, he does unconscious verbal stims or humming, ticking, smacking his lips, something.  He told me once that he can’t stand silence – that it hurts his ears.


It affects the rest of us

The worst part about it is that we’re now a loud family because of him.  Anyone wanting to be heard has to yell over him (or at him, to stop the noise.)  The other kids compete for attention against the constant stream of noise.  If we’re in the car, the younger kids have a screaming contest to get my attention.  We parents have to literally yell just to get his attention, and sometimes even that doesn’t work.

God forbid it’s an emergency situation – my husband jokes about my howler monkey voice, but it’s really not funny.  If I have to stop him with my voice alone, then my voice becomes something akin to the Black Rider’s screams from the Lord of the Rings movies.  Loud, ear-piercing, with dramatic shifts in tone and climbing pitch.  It physically hurts my vocal cords to have to do that, but nothing else works from a distance.


The biggest stressor

I won’t lie: the Engineer’s noise issues are probably the biggest source of stress in my parenting role.  If he would close his mouth and listen he would hear me telling him to STOP and not walk in the road.  If he would shut up for 2 seconds his siblings could have the attention they so desperately need and try to get by provoking fights.  If he could shut down his mouth and engage his mind, his impulsiveness would improve.

It’s a big deal.  And I don’t know how to help him improve it without him feeling like he’s the problem.

He’s not the problem.  Because he literally cannot control it.  We work with him to practice indoor/outdoor voice.  We ask him to modulate his voice in public, and 2 seconds later it’s right back to ear-piercing chatter.  I snap at him to SHUT UP NOW so that I can get his brother’s attention before he runs away from me.  I touch his shoulder to get his attention in public places because I know he can’t hear me.


This is one of those situations that I desperately hope he will mature enough to control it.  Because if he can’t, he’ll be the employee no one wants to deal with.   The college kid that the professors hate.  The guy no girl wants to date because he won’t let her talk enough to get to know her.  I’m doing the mom-worrying thing again.


So hey, if you see us in public (who am I kidding?  You’ll hear us first) I’m sorry.  Because I know how our loud family bothers other people.  I know – because it bothers me!  Just imagine what it’s like to live with it every single day and send an ounce of sympathy over my way.  We’re a work in progress – and it’s a big job.



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