Kids, man. They’re kind of obnoxious, right? I mean, they are amazing little balls of energy and light, and if we let them, they teach us things about ourselves that crack us wide open. But some days, maybe even most days, they can bring us to our exhausted knees, begging for just a moment; a solitary moment of calm and quiet.
Lately I’ve been thinking about noise. I recently spent an evening having dinner with a friend and our children — three in total. After dinner, my friend and I sat down at the table for a lovely game of Scrabble (pretty sure I won, by the way). We had wine. We had music. We had wordplay. It was delightful. We also had three sugared up children running around the table, playing tag and screaming at the top of their lungs. I’m talking ear piercing screams. They were having fun. They were being kids. And we let them. In that moment, I experienced a noise I understood to be missing from my life. I loved it.
Being a single mom of one child, the house is mostly pretty quiet. We have dance parties. We also have meltdowns — both of us. Those moments invite noise, both wanted and unwanted. But usually, it’s more of a hush. Add some bodies to the mix and the volume increases exponentially. I long for that, strangely.
I had this realization the other day, that kids spend the majority of their lives being hushed in some way. “Quiet down. Don’t say that. Don’t touch that. Don’t jump on that. Don’t act like that.” Can you imagine? What if, as adults, our lives were that micromanaged. We’d combust.
I understand the urge to teach children what’s appropriate and when, but I’m also recognizing the value in just letting them be a little wild.
You know how we reach a certain age when we start to feel old? Our energy is drained and we long for a time when we could just energizer bunny our way through the day — without the aid of caffeine or whatever gets us off. Kids don’t have that problem. Their minds aren’t saddled with fear or regret or stress or responsibility. And maybe, just maybe, we need to allow them to live exactly that way while they still can.
I’m not talking about letting them belt out the lyrics to Let It Go in the middle of grandma’s funeral service, although, that could be kind of cathartic. I just mean silencing them less; and encouraging their wild. Life will catch up with them soon enough. You know it will.
It’s easy to feel stressed and frustrated by their crazy tendencies. Kids lack impulse control. We have cognitively surpassed them, I suppose. Although sometimes I question that. I think the most critical thing we can do for our children, or other people’s children, is to teach them kindness, and compassion, and grace, and how to have a great time. Because life has enough shit, and they’ll feel it eventually. They need to know how to weather those storms. And giving them a foundation that enables them to feel comfortable in their skin, no matter the phase in life…that’s going to get them through the hard times.
Parent or not, I suppose this is just a gentle reminder that we were there once. And it was likely frustrating to constantly be told how to conduct ourselves. So I say, let the kids be loud. Someday they’ll thank us for it, I think. It’s a bet I’m willing to gamble on. Bring on the noise!