The Most Terrible Sound

Kids are not just loud, they have a whole range of annoying sounds to torment you with day and night. Crying, screaming, whining, constant babbling, telling you, “No!” as loud as they can in the grocery store. It’s actually hard to pick which sound is the worst. But there is a most terrible sound to parents, it is the silence.

The Worst Silences

When you go to the bathroom by yourself and shut the door, and you don’t hear your kid banging on the other side of the door trying to get in. You’re thinking, “Yep, he’s definitely out there cutting his hair.” Because now you’re so used to the constant noise, silence is actually unnerving. Your mind will conjure up the least likely, and most horrible idea. Yes, perhaps baby climbed up the counter, opened the child-locked drawer – using the key to it that I can’t even find when I need the scissors – put the key into the lock and opened it, found the scissors and cut off all his hair, silently, in the 30 seconds that I’ve been in here power peeing. This being a kid who can’t even do the puzzles marketed to his age group with me coaching, “Circle, circle hole, no circle. Not star no, it’s never star. Why do you always try every shape in the star hole first?”

Or when you hear their show end in the other room, and you don’t hear them yelling for you to start another one. And they don’t come and bother you. You’re listening thinking, “Yep, he’s definitely in there cutting the dog’s hair.”

Or you wake up in the morning all on your own, and no kids are making noise yet. The house is silent. You suddenly realize that birds still chirp in the mornings. You think, “Oh no, he’s probably out there eating something non-organic – off the floor.”

But the worst of all the silences, is after children fall and hit their head on the coffee table there is a 3 second silence before they realize what has happened and start crying. I’m looking at him, horrified, and watching him suck in all his breath in preparation to seriously wail. All I can do is wait, like watching the tide go out before a hurricane. The farther out that wave goes away from the shore, the more powerful the impact is going to be when it finally does hit. The longer the silence, the worse the crying is going to be. It is the longest 3 seconds of your life.
Your mind can go a thousand places in that 3 seconds.
“Where is the number to the urgent care?”
“What are the signs of concussion again?”
“Why did we even buy that stupid coffee table?”
Parental philosophies are re-examined in that silence. Religions are found and rekindled in that silence. Dinner plans are made and abandoned in that silence. “Well I am definitely not making lasagna now.”

Then sometimes there’s that split second when you think maybe it’s not going to be that bad. Maybe he didn’t even notice he hit his head. You think, “Maybe if he doesn’t see me notice, he won’t think it’s a big deal.” But I always notice, right? I am right there constantly watching him. I watch so I can keep him safe. So I can help him if he does get hurt. So I can pretend I didn’t notice if he hits his head, and wait to see if he cries or not. It’s a constant yo-yo of my attention. I have to see everything he’s doing, but then, “Oh, shoot, did he see me watching? Look away. I saw nothing.”
To baby cheerily: “Oh, I didn’t see you there. Did you bump your…? Oh, uh. No, you’re ok.”

Two of my baby’s first words were not “Momma,” no, he has yet to say that one. He doesn’t say “momma,” because I don’t say “momma” all the time, and he mimics me. He says what he hears me saying the most. Two of his first words were “Uh oh,” and “Okay,” which I think are basically my two states of being. I’m watching him, and I see him fall, and I freeze, and under my breath I say, “Oh no, is he hurt?” And he looks up at me from the floor, and I say persuasively, “You’re ok!”
To myself: “You’re ok.”

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