When they were a toddler, you’d go to the playground and observe them with the other kids and think, Is it just me, or is my kid louder than literally every other kid? When you visited family during the holidays, a relative would smile charitably and say “Um, wow, those are some lungs! Hahaha.” You have lost count of the number of notes sent home from school about how “disruptive” or “noisy” your kid is.
You think you maybe used to know what quiet felt like, but you’re not really sure anymore. You haven’t experienced it since that one time two years ago when you used a gift certificate to get a facial, so who even knows anymore?
“Quiet”? No idea what that even is.
If, over the permanent ringing in your ears, this sounds eerily familiar, then you know the unique agony that is having a kid who is loud as fuck. And you know that we’re not talking about your average everyday kid noise. Yes, people with average-decibeled children, we know kids are loud, so please don’t attempt to comfort us by reminding us of this. We know. But we’re not talking about regular kid noise here.
What we are talking about is a special kind of loud. An insistent, tenacious, irrepressible, unrelenting kind of loud. It is tapping, humming, singing, clicking, buzzing, screeching, and creating altogether new sounds that defy description. It is taking shower singing to an entirely new level. It is giving up on conversation with your significant other because you don’t have the energy to raise your voice over the din or once again say “Please, for the love of all things good and holy, be quiet.”
It is pterodactyl phases, kitten phases, rooster phases, duck phases, and an as-yet-ongoing “buzzing” phase wherein my son vibrates the back of his throat to produce this unbearable grinding sound that feels like someone installed a chalkboard in my brain and proceeded to rake their fingernails down it. It literally makes the hairs on my neck stand on end.
My son, bless his precious heart, just NEVER stops making noise. He simply cannot help himself, and it’s been ongoing since infancy. He’s in the seventh grade now, and his friends joke about how he never shuts up. It is affectionate teasing because his friends truly adore and accept him and all his quirks, and Lucas laughs and agrees that indeed his brain is a very noisy place. But still. Everyone knows he’s loud AF. (Right this moment he is belting Hamilton lyrics.)
There are plenty of days when I don’t mind that Lucas is loud, but sometimes I crave a bit of peace, and the only way I can get it is if I or he leaves the house. We used to try to quiet him—distracting him with absorbing tasks, but many times, even when he’s reading he will shout out things about the plot or groan or laugh as he reads. He’s pretty quiet when he’s playing video games, but that’s not a tool I want to abuse just to get my kid to shut up.
When he was little, his noise drove me to my wits’ end. We tried to discipline it out of him, removing privileges when he could not control himself and rewarding him when he could. The problem was, he almost never got rewarded, because he honestly couldn’t control it. Trying to quiet him with negative consequences meant that the only feedback the poor kid received from us was negative.
Lucas was diagnosed with ADHD in second grade. Meds took the edge off his constant noisemaking but didn’t altogether silence him. He is still loud as fuck.
But I’m okay with this. In fact, we’ve stopped trying to silence him. Though I admit I sometimes crack and bark at him to be quiet, most days, I do the opposite. I actually encourage him to make noise. Why on earth would I do that? Well, because after years of fighting it, I realized this is simply part of who my son is. He has a busy, noisy, beautiful brain, and honestly, many of the noises that he makes are actually really cool and creative. He won’t admit it, but he has an incredible singing voice. He has a great ear for music, too, not just sounds.
In an effort to channel my son’s noisiness, when he was in third grade, we bought him an electric guitar and started him on lessons. He’s still loud as all holy hell whether the guitar is in his hands or not (he’s moved on from Hamilton and is now whistling Christmas songs), but the guitar has given him a place to channel his noise-making tendencies. And he’s good at it.
If you’re a parent with a loud AF kid, I highly recommend looking into getting your kid into music in whatever way you can. We tried violin first (I play and teach) and that was a giant fail—my son hated it. So don’t get discouraged if the first thing you try is a bust. Granted this “solution” only adds to the noise rather than curtailing it, but hey, at least it ends in your kid having a new skill, right? And for me, listening to my kid rip some AC/DC on guitar makes the other brain-shattering moments far more bearable.
But I’m glad I didn’t start him on drums.