My house is alive when the kids are in it. Even when they’re being quiet, they’re being loud. Their presence alone is what makes the energy seem so thick in the air.
It’s one of those universal things for parents. Whether you have a child who is non-verbal with autism like my son or neurotypical like my daughter, you know what I mean. Children at home means random crashes, cackles, or screams from rooms away. You even learn to tell the difference between calls of distress and screams of hilarity. With a 14-year-old girl on Facetime, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference.
Most of my son’s commotion is fairly innocuous. Lucas rarely screams out in pain or sadness. When he does, you know immediately. There are no shouts of “ow”, there are just tears. It’s heartbreaking but also helpful when being woken up to a shriek at 2am. Any non-tearful shouts are just a stimming part of our lives and the background music of the house.
The one thing that people might not realize is that his shrieks of joy can usually be constant. Today, as I write this, I am in the midst of a screamtastic 24 hours. Since my boy woke up, he’s been swiping on his iPad, eating his meals, and hopping around with happiness. He also has not stopped making sounds for more than a minute. Often during times like this, he will walk over to me and tap my shoulder repeatedly so I can watch how happy he is. This goes on all day.
“Ahhhh”, “yahhhh”, piercing laughter, and other vocal gymnastics tell me that Lucas has been having a great day. I am sure people will ask if it’s sometimes annoying. The answer is no. It is not sometimes annoying. It is often annoying. However, it is sweet and, as his dad, I love it…even if it can be a bit much at times.
We have gotten used to it and grown to love it, even when it overtakes the room. My daughter and I never like to send him away and, if we’re watching television together, we all are. So, Mr. Twist and Shout over here might hum and yodel over the entire program, but we just leave it be. Occasionally, I’ll look over and say, “Lucas, calm down, buddy.” Other than that, he’s just my little round mound of sound.
The fact that he’s adorable helps a lot. Even when he’s not being loud, I know he’s there as Lucas is always hovering around me. If I go upstairs, he follows. If I walk through the kitchen, he wants some food. My boy is always present like a guardian angel…or the demon from Paranormal Activity. It all depends on his mood.
My daughter has had similar moments through the years, and they still happen today. When her friends are over, they literally scream from across the house. If it’s followed by laughter, it’s all good. If it’s followed by a thud, I worry. Even then, I know better than to come running in. I just text her, “Yo. U dead?”
Of course, as she’s gotten older, her decibel level has settled down in its frequency. Today, it’s mostly him making the racquet. Still, there’s a racquet. That’s the constant.
With this menagerie of din raining around me, I embrace the small moments of silence. Out of nowhere, I will find myself settled on the couch without a noise to be heard. I’ll sigh, sip my coffee, and maybe make a phone call or two. This is peace. This is tranquility. Serenity now!
The whole scene is surreal and, for a brief moment, I forget who I am. I forget my age or the time of the day. God help me if I accidentally close my eyes for a few minutes.
Then, just as I start to soak in the relaxing moments of quiet, a voice in my head freaks out.
Why is it so quiet? Where is he? How long have I been sitting here?
The voice in my head steps aside to make way for the imagined scenarios that are playing out. I picture my son on the roof, teetering against the gutters. There are images of cupcake footprints and broken windows. He’s naked. He’s trapped somewhere. He’s flushed our family photographs down the potty. There are a million terrible options. I envision all of them at once.
Many have heard of Schrödinger’s Cat. It’s the philosophy that, until a situation is witnessed, it can be anything. As I run up the stairs, I feel this scientific theory in my bones. Anything can be waiting for me. I prepare for the worst.
Some days, I get it. I have seen him turn rooms into nightmares that would make the guy in Saw proud. There have been some biblically horrific scenes waiting for me at the top of the stairs.
Then, some others, I will come running in like a house of fire, ready to investigate the silence. Just as my feet pass the threshold, I’ll see him there. Angelic and smiling on his bed, he looks up from his iPad and lifts his head. He gives a wave.
Sweet, right? Why worry at all? How insane of me. I give him a smile.
However, before I leave the room, I look around to find the pants, shirt, and underwear he took off and threw somewhere before leading him to the bathtub. I wash the pirate booty and orange juice out of his sheets while he’s sitting in there. After a quick vacuuming, Febreeze, and trip to the dumpster, we’re back in business. Maybe not so insane after all.
That’s the price of silence, though. Without those sporadic and scary moments of quiet, I’d never have time to sit and write a blog post. I need those moments of calm like he is right now…
Oh my God. How long have I been doing this? I’m sorry. I have to go.