Google loud children and you will see site after site giving advice on how to quiet your kids. Parents asking other parents if their children are a normal level of boisterous.
“She’s so calm. He’s so quiet. You’re so lucky.” I overhear comments like this so often. Time after time people congratulating parents for having quiet children. I used to find myself wondering what their secret was. I must have missed that chapter in the parenting book “How to raise soft spoken children” was definitely not on my pre-baby reading list.
Perhaps I should have started by saying my kids are not quiet.
They are the opposite of quiet. Everything they do is done with an intense amount of noise.
My daughter might be standing right beside me yet she feels the need to yell her end of every conversation.
More often than not, I hear my kids before I see them.
When my son was about three years old we were out for dinner at a family restaurant. My son, excitedly chatted away about our afternoon spent at Disney on Ice and he got loud. In a moment of sheer joy he let out a very excited squeal. We reminded him that he can’t be so loud in a restaurant and even apologized to the table next to us. The table next to us then proceeded to complain about our son; declaring in voices loud enough for us to hear, that their children would never have behaved in such a way in public.
I can still feel the sting of their words like a slap to my cheek.
I wanted so badly to stand up and tell them that perhaps it had been so long since they had children that time had clouded their memories. I wanted to tell them that my son had surgery at 2 days old and we were told that his voice would probably be very quiet and raspy so that his squeal of delight was music to our ears. I wanted to say so many things but I stayed seated. I stayed seated and blinked away my tears of frustration and continued on with my dinner.
I soon came to the realization that I’m loud. My husband is loud. Our children will most likely be loud. And that is ok with me.
I don’t remember when I started feeling self-conscious about my big voice but I do remember the feeling of not wanting to be heard, of needing to blend into the background where no one knew me. I remember the fear of standing out.
I don’t want my children to be afraid of their own voice.
Who decided that quiet and calm children equate good children? Who decided that parents of quiet children were doing something right and that parents of loud kids were messing up at this whole parenting thing?
My children are polite, loyal and mostly well behaved. They understand that there is a time and a place for everything and seem to instinctively understand when their big voice is appropriate and when it isn’t. They are, however, kids and they are still learning.
The days of kids being seen and not heard are over. Kids have a voice. Let’s stop sending them the message that we don’t want to hear it. Let’s stop telling them that good kids are quiet kids.
Yes, the peace and stillness might make life easier for me and at times the noise is overwhelming. But childhood is so short and I want them to be kids. They have their whole lives to be restrained, for these few precious years I want them to be free and wild and to feel everything deeply and out loud.
If, for these short years, my home is a cacophony of laughter, tears and shouting then that’s absolutely okay with me.
My daughter’s laughter can be heard echoing through a theatre and it’s contagious. When she giggles you can’t help yourself but to join in.
You can tell her level of excitement by just how boisterous her voice becomes. When she’s telling me stories about what happened at school and her voice becomes continuously louder and more intense I can feel each word that she spits out.
Why on earth would I ever want to quiet that voice?
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