You’re in a grocery store. Some pissed off toddler is screaming off in the distance. You go about your business, but you notice an elderly couple looking in your general direction with a disapproving expression that seems to be saying “For the love of God make it stop!” When you realize they are looking at you, you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. Suddenly everything comes into focus and you realize it’s your kid who is screeching at the top of their lungs. Two feet away from you.
Fess up, I know I’m not the only one who has the uncanny ability to tune out their own kids screaming as easily as I can ignore my husband going on and on about microchips. Blah blah blah.
I’m only reminded of these incidences because as I write this, Josie has been alternating between sharply screeching “MOM! MOM! MOOOM!” and “I DOOOOOO ITTTTT!” I’m pretty sure the decibal level of my girls’ screams would test somewhere in the range of an airplane taking off. Or a freight train. Or an AC/DC concert. Do I feel compelled to react? Not in the slightest.
What set her off? She wanted to close the front door, and before I realized what she wanted, I had already done it. So she started screaming, and I started giggling (partly because my defense mechanism against stress is to smile/giggle and partly because, well, her reaction is so over-the-top that it’s just damn funny.) Then I started ignoring her.
Apart from my neighbors probably thinking I’m beating my kids, I think it’s pretty freakin’ hilarious. She will slither across the floor screaming, one little hand reaching up to me… helplessly begging me to release her from this wave of sadness. Just let me close the door… just an inch. Just a centimeter! Please, mommy, please!
I have this policy where, if the kids start screaming, they do absolutely not get what they want regardless of circumstance. 99% of the time I stick with it too. Cheating on that policy is exclusively reserved for moments of extreme selfishness – like when I’m totally absorbed in a book and putting it down to discipline them is a physical impossibility. They all know that’s precisely the moment to ask mommy for treats they aren’t normally allowed to have.
In the meantime, I’ll be practicing my selective hearing and you’re probably going to be hearing a lot of dying cat sounds coming from my house.