Everywhere I go, there are parents: parents with big kids, parents with little kids, parents with babies strapped to their fronts. In and of itself, this is nothing to be alarmed by. It’s summer and families are out and about enjoying the warm weather and exploring this big, beautiful world.
My family is doing the exact same thing.
What’s worrisome, or should I say annoying as hell, is a phenomenon I’ve come to recognize as the Extra Loud Parenting Voice.
You’ll be casually standing somewhere doing your thing, and BOOM. It hits you like a truck. Ten feet away a parent is narrating their entire exchange with their child for everyone within 45 feet to hear. You can’t help but stop whatever is going on in your own head or with your own kids and be sucked into the experiences of the family next to you.
I’m not sure if the Extra Loud Parenting Voice is hearing loss from having screaming babies too close to one’s ears for prolonged periods of time or an effort to put one’s parenting skills on display. Either way, on the annoying scale, it ranks right up there with the business guy barking about his latest million-dollar deal and the college girl recounting at top volume her weekend of handing out BJ’s and taking shots.
The people around you simply do not want to hear you be a parent. Trust me, we are not thinking, “What a sweet mom!” or “That dad is so connected!” We’re thinking, “STFU already.”
1. In the grocery store: What color is the orange? Is the orange orange? Should we buy oranges? Let’s count the oranges. One, two, three, four … Oh, don’t yell sweetie. We need to use our inside voices because we are inside. Inside the grocery store. What color are the blueberries? Are they blue? That’s right! Blue. Should we buy blueberries? Not those, hand me the organic ones.
2. On an airplane, a bus, a train: We need to stay in our seats. We can’t get out of our seats right now. We have to stay seated. Do you want to color? Let’s color in our coloring book. Would you like some water? Drink some water. Here is your coloring book and your crayons. Would you like some water? Drink some water? You want mommy’s phone? No, we can’t play on mommy’s phone. Let’s color this truck. It’s a garbage truck. Look at this truck. Is it a back hoe? Yes! It is! No, we can’t look for trucks on mommy’s phone! Would you like some water?
3. At the playground: We only go down the slide. The slide is not for climbing up. Only for going down. You see how those other boys and girls are going up the slide? That is not how we play on the slide. We know that. We only go down the slide.
4. At the zoo: Can you see the giraffe? That’s the daddy giraffe. And that’s the baby. That’s right! Giraffe!! Look how long their necks are. That’s right, they have long necks just like ostriches. But ostriches are birds. Remember the book about giraffes we got at the library? That’s right! They eat leaves! They use their very long necks to reach the very high leaves. No, our dog Dildo is not a giraffe. He’s a dog. That’s right! He says woof woof.
5. At the pool: Please don’t run. I don’t want you to slip and fall. Do you see all of this water on the pavement that’s been splashed out of the pool by all the boys and girls playing in the water? It makes it slippery and if you go too fast you will slip and fall down and get hurt. Mommy doesn’t want you to get hurt. Please don’t run. Ice cream? We have to have lunch first silly. We always have lunch before ice cream. Let’s go have our yummy lunch. Would you like your veggies with the hummus we made together? Hummus is so good for you. Isn’t it yummy?
Yep, these are all real conversations I’ve recently had the pleasure of living through.
It’s totally normal to talk to your kids, to engage them with their surroundings. What is not normal is your insistence on doing it at such a high volume that everyone around you has to live through it as well. It’s making everyone within 100 feet of you want to poke their eyeballs out.
I’m sure you’re a great parent, but I just want to pick out some produce, sit on a bench at the playground, and check out the giraffes in peace.
I didn’t come here to see your parenting performance. You can leave the Extra Loud Parenting Voice at home.