Turn it down


I can’t believe that our house has become even noisier – already. Amelia has always loved to talk – big long sentences either staggeringly wise for such a small person or wandering and nonsensical. It doesn’t really matter what it’s about, she’s happy as long as she’s talking. She talks to herself, her toys, the TV and to us – all the time. And she has two volumes – loud or loud whisper.

Just recently Lily has joined the chorus with loud, long screeching noises. They are mostly angry screeches when she is hungry, tired, bored or uncomfortable and they are usually quite ear piercing. At my last appointment with the Maternal and Child Health Nurse I asked her if it was a normal kind of thing – Amelia cried and squealed with delight but she never screeched quite so.

And this is almost verbatim what the nurse said to me:

“Well, I have met Amelia [which she had, briefly] and you have a very spirited, strong willed little girl there – obviously very bright but one who likes to make a lot of noise… and I think you may have another – babies at 4 months are already feeling all the emotions – joy, anger, frustration and so on… and I think Lily is simply learning to express herself and she likes to do it noisily…” and then she concluded with a wicked smile; “…so, um… good luck with that!”.

I honestly don’t understand this. Big-P and I are quiet people, not big talkers and certainly not loud talkers. This is obviously some genetic throwback. Our girls are obviously filling our gaps.

Usually around 5 or 6pm they both start in earnest. Amelia talks so much that food falls out of her mouth despite being reminded to wait, and Lily has reached her “No, I totally refuse to sleep despite being desperately tired” point so her screeches are intense. Big-P and I look at each other across the table with tired, heavy eyes and sigh sympathetically to one another. I am sure we will remember with fondness these noisy days when two sullen teenagers sit with us dinner with barely a grunt between them but at the moment I am feeling nothing but jangled.

18 Responses to “Turn it down”

  1. louise.papas.@bigpond.com

    My 4yr old poured a $12 bottle of baby lotion down the sink, pulled apart a biro and put blue ink everywhere (mostly in her mouth) and emptied conditioner all over the shower floor (she was cleaning it) and couldn’t get out!! That was just today’s antics. As a mum of 3 girls 6, 4 and 10 months I get where you are coming from! Try “Save our Sleep” by Tizzie Hall for Lily’s sleep issues. It changed everything for us when Daphne was 4 months old earlier this year. Good Luck!

  2. chiara.nocentini@fastwebnet.it

    Ciao sono una mamma di tre bambini anche noi insonni!Auguri!!

  3. tiel@tsktsk.com.au

    my husband and I love/hate dinners with our 2 an 4 year old. We are trying the ‘it is daddy’s turn to talk now’ thing! ‘Please say excuse me if you would like to speak.’ Always constant interruptions, we never finish a conversation. Or if we do it is a very abridged version.
    The other night, we all made an effort to speak very softly and slowly the entire meal. It actually calmed the kids and was far less stressful.

  4. pyglet@gmail.com

    I am giggling now but this is what I will probably be dealing with early next year. If the way my baby kicks me has anything to do with it…I will get another fireball to rival the one I have now!
    Hope you find some quiet moments in there somewhere! xox

  5. empressofdirt@rogers.com

    lol. My girls are non-stop talkers *at home* sometimes driving me to sneak off to the laundry room for peace. At parent-teacher meetings I hear: I wish she’d speak more in class….! That clued me in where my girls apparently recharge their chatter boxes, saving it all for us .
    Um, good luck with that screeching. 😀

  6. kt@theeislers.com

    Amelia sounds a lot like Angus-almost 6 years old. The boy does not stop talking. Neither does his little brother, Duncan (3). I suggest playing the silence game…who can be silent the longest. It is tough for Duncan but with Angus it is a god send.

  7. landmdunster@netspace.net.au

    Well Claire all I can say is be thankfull it’s no 5 or 6am (as my boys did).
    Don’t those Maternal Nurses have a way with words, I rembember those days … ahh such memories.

    Have a lovely week.

  8. matchstic77@yahoo.com.au

    Oh I just laughed out loud! Thanks for the nice start to my day… good luck with the ‘genetic throwbacks’! 🙂

  9. dbrownlock@yahoo.com

    Ahh, I remember those days well. 😉 They will eventually learn table manners, never fear. Mine are 14, 13, 10 and 7. The only problem we have now is that the 7 yr old (girl, of course) wants to interrupt everyone, because what she has to say is TEN times more important than what anyone else has to say! The rest of us take turns and it’s nice. Be patient, it will come. And, yes, when they reach teenage age, there is a lot more of these types of conversations: “How was your day?” “Fine.” “Anything interesting happen?” “No. May I be excused now?” 😀

  10. taber12@msn.com

    Claire -I have two boys 4 years and 5.5 months – very similar to you, no? (although different genders, of course). I just want you to know there is another woman in this world who is reading your words feeling like they are her own. Our baby doesn’t like sleeping either and our 4 year old WILL NOT STOP TALKING. It’s enough to make a person go mad.

    And the crazy thing is that you still just love them so much it hurts. I am hoping the saying “this too shall pass” hurries up and happens already!

    Hang in there!
    Allison

  11. Jasmine_Molders@hotmail.com

    Hey Claire, When i asked our maternal health nurse if our baby’s screeching and sheer volume was ‘normal’ she looked me in the eye and with a wink said ‘hmm, she’s a passionate child”….so that is what they call it! In our case though the source of the noisy gene is pretty obvious (the daddy). I am still looking for the mute button. All the best with yours.

  12. avonhokie@yahoo.com

    Sounds like your nurse has a slightly less tactful way of describing what some books around here call “the witching hour.” Breakdowns between dinner and bedtime are pretty common among infants, especially ones that are busy learning, learning, learning all day. One book suggested that the crying was the baby’s way of tuning out the world when she’d had too many new experiences. Sounds like positive spin on “she screams like a banshee for two hours every night no matter what we do,” which is what we had. I liked to think of it as “demonic possession.”
    One thing you might try with the screeching baby (since ours did the same thing) is to get them out of the house at the witching hour. Ours was right around dinnertime and for an hour or so afterward, so for a few months we would bolt down our food, throw the kid in the stroller, and go for a LONG walk to the coffeeshop downtown. Didn’t matter what the weather was like, as long as it wasn’t actively pouring rain. Darness, cold, funky fog – you name it, we ploughed through it. The night air seemed to help calm her down, and the screeching doesn’t seem quite as loud when you’re outside.

    As for the constant talking and interrupting, can you try making a game out of it? Maybe give Amelia five tokens (poker chips, playing cards, whatever) at the beginning of dinner. Let her know that the tokens can be traded for something special at the end of dinner. Every time she interrupts you or talks with her mouth full, take one token away. If she still has any left at the end of dinner, she can redeem it for something special right away. Maybe chocolate sauce on her ice cream, maybe a backrub at bedtime, maybe an extra book or song when going to sleep. No tokens left = no special treat. I haven’t gotten to the point with my daughter where she’s old enough to try this out, but I’ve heard it can work wonders on kids who are old enough to understand that there are consequences to behavior. And it’s portable enough that if you need to keep working on it at your family’s house, or at a restaurant, it wouldn’t be a burden.

  13. bettsi_mccomb@yahoo.com

    Oh, poor Claire! I had the same issues with my two oldest children. Nature hates a vacuum you know. Where there is quiet, there must be noise to fill it! My daughter would wake from naps at 4 months old and spend an hour talking to herself in her crib! She’s 16 now and my main function in life is still to listen to her. I think her little brother learned the shrieking method of communication just so he would be heard above his sister’s non-stop talking! The answer here is early bedtimes!

  14. happylaney@hotmail.com

    I have a nephew who used to scream all the time too. We babysat for him when we was around 3 months old, and he screamed the entire 3 hours. He is 17 months old now and is not talking too much yet, but not screaming either, thank goodness. We spent a family vacation in July, 18 of us in one beach house, and the screaming nephew kept us all on our toes. His parents and older siblings are not yellers, or very loud at all, so it is a little perplexing. Anyway, in your own words, give yourself a big hug and know that this screaming, too, will pass.

  15. nikkishell@gmail.com

    I so understand! With a 2 1/2 year old and a 1 year old life gets pretty noisy. I heard about a family that had a special rock, they’d take it in turns to hold the rock and say what they wanted to say. Everyone else at the table had to listen without interuption. I’m going to try this when my girls get a little older.

  16. mrscakehole@hotmail.com

    If it’s any consolation, my primary school teacher said to my mother, “She’s awfully LOUD for such a small person, isn’t she?” but generally speaking I have in the intervening 30 years or so been the quiet one. So it might not last! I don’t have children, but I have a husband who’s a talker… never shuts up, bless him. So I feel for you. Luckily he works in radio so at least he gets some of it out of his system.

  17. spookydollkid@hotmail.com

    aw, it puts this amazing picture in my head, that you guys are “quiet people, not big talkers and certainly not loud talkers…Amelia talks so much that food falls out of her mouth and Lily’s screeches are intense”. it’s so cute and somehow makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

  18. rea-ebnother@laposte.net

    I have a 12 mo who nearly bursts my eardrums with her screams. So no, it does not go away! 🙂

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