Tahoe Dad: Being a loud family
I’ve come to an important realization recently — we’re loud.
That’s right. We are “that” family: The loud ones.
Maybe it’s a simple byproduct of having two children close in age who constantly compete for attention from Wifey and me. Or maybe it has to do with Wifey and me being used to talking in front of large groups. I’m not sure where to trace the origin, but I know that the effect is an undeniable, quantifiably obvious, head-turning increase in decibel level.
Like the time in a movie theater when Jane had a million things on her 3-year-old mind and just had to communicate them right at that quiet time when the lights start to dim and the movie hasn’t started yet. Wifey and I kept a steady stream of “shhhh” going, so much so that at one point, laughter could be heard all the way in the rear of theater. Fortunately, Jane fell asleep in my arms a few minutes into the film.
Then there are car trips and attempting to call grandparents on my Bluetooth vehicle device.
“I really can’t understand what you are saying,” grandma says.
“I’m sorry Gran—”
“My little bunnyrabbitgrewoutofaneggfromhisshellandnowhe’smypet!”
“OK, Michael. Thank you for sharing. Grandma, did you catch any of that?” I ask.
“Why don’t you all just call later?”
“Good idea. Maybe we’ll just text for the next few years.”
Sometimes it’s not necessarily volume, it’s just a constant background noise of Michael and Jane incessantly talking. Even when we put them to bed, the negotiations, bathroom requests, and calls for stories continue.
“Go to sleep, Jane. Close your eyes,” I say.
“I don’t know how to close my eyes,” Jane responds.
“I seriously doubt that.”
Now that we are no longer in denial and have passed the first stage, acceptance, we’ve started two coping strategies. One involves five minutes of quiet. Really. It means all of us; our whole loud family sits, in the car, in the backyard, at the dinner table, wherever Wifey and I have determined that the cacophony has gone too far, we will sit silent for five long minutes. It’s actually quite nice and I think it might be teaching the kids to just observe and enjoy patiently rather than needing to fill all of the empty spaces.
The other strategy is taking turns, which has certainly worked wonders for us at the dinner table, but has unfortunately meant that Wifey and I have to wait for a full cycle of nonsensical comments on the relative speed of dogs to children and stirring renditions of “here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail,” before we can continue our conversation.
We are starting to employ these techniques in public places too, which has made restaurants more enjoyable for us and our fellow diners. But sometimes it just feels good to embrace our inner loudness. So, we’ve decided that Steamer’s is an ideal dinner establishment for our family, not just because the standard bar fare is yummy and priced right, but the volume level seems to match that of our children.
At the opposite end of the noise spectrum is the library to which Wifey sometimes ventures. On a recent library jaunt, she was visiting with a friend while Michael and Jane built structures with some of the wonderful interactive toys available. Just as Wifey and her friend were commenting on how good their children were playing, the massive structure that the children had been building imploded to the squeals of delight of our kids and the disapproving scowls of other library patrons. Wifey and her friend looked into each other’s eyes and immediately took action. They ducked behind a counter, hiding from the librarian.
M.C. Behm’s columns appear every other Saturday in the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He is a full-time resident of South Lake Tahoe and author of the forthcoming novel “The Elixir of Yosemite.” To learn more or respond to columns visit http://www.mcbehm.com or email email@example.com.
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