Hi, my name is Janelle, and I barely like sound. For many years, I thought I was simply an asshole. While this is undeniably true, my condition apparently goes beyond an irrationally low tolerance for people trying to chew food.
You see, I have “misophonia.”
Apparently this is a real brain thing. Whew.
I’m the person who visualizes stabbing strangers for eating Corn Nuts across from me at the library, or my husband when he has the audacity to eat a chip. I feel actual rage. It starts in my toes and runs all the way to my forehead, where it gathers into helpful ideas like, “Maybe I can kill this person and run out real quick and get away with it.”
I’m being 15% hyperbolic.
And yet, I have seventy-five children.
Fine, I have four.
Do they have a term for the inability to handle the wall of indecipherable sound known as “children?”
All they do is talk. Well, no. One of them, Rocket, the twelve-year-old, evidently adopted the quieter demeanor of his father.
While Rocket doesn’t talk incessantly, he does make some seriously odd squealing noises pretty regularly, sounds I imagine a goat would make were he being held over flames, but he doesn’t chatter on endlessly requiring the undivided attention of his mother. Interestingly, he is the one kid I TRY to make talk, and he barely will, and even when he tries, his words are drowned out by the raging torrent of his siblings’.
That’s because my other three children basically never cease speaking, no matter what, or when, or what the topic, and I just need to say this out loud: I CANNOT LISTEN TO ALL THIS TALKING.
There seems to be an expectation of me, as a mother, to exist in a state of rapt attention, endlessly interested in the yammering of small humans, in the barrage of stories regarding this and that, in the 800 billion questions regarding Peppa Pig and the nature of existence, in the dreams.
Oh God. The dreams.
NOBODY GIVES A FUCK ABOUT YOUR DREAMS.
Wait. I didn’t mean that. I meant, “Aim high and dream big, kiddo!”
No but for real. Stop telling me what you dreamed last night.
Sometimes my three-year-old wakes up in the middle of the night, talking. He’s in our bed, and thus difficult to avoid. The last time he did it, he told me something about a motorcycle and tiger, and demanded to know why I was wearing a shirt.
Yes, good call. Let’s talk about that. We don’t talk enough. Let’s add 2am bedtime chats to our talking schedule.
Do people really expect me to give a fuck about every single word that exits the mouths of my children? I strongly believe those people have never actually been around children.
I’m being a dick in this blog post, but I usually attempt civility and feigned interest in the sound wave crashing into my face.
For example, when the dream recounting begins, I sit there staring at them with a sort of blank look on my face and my mouth possibly open, mumbling, “Oh.” And “Weird!” and “Dreams are like that.”
Later, I remind myself that kids can pick up on parental vibes and they surely know I was not exactly “riveted,” then I wonder if I’ve done irreparable damage to their self-esteem and psyches. On the other hand, shouldn’t kids learn that nobody wants to hear their self-obsessed chattering (lest they grow into mansplainers)?
I am grateful my teenager still talks to me, but the problem with the teenager (and three-year-old and seven-year-old) is that they are almost always asking for something.
So it isn’t just talking. Every word is adding a motherfucking task to the list of my life, and I already hate the list. I may have lost the list.
THE LIST IS NOT WORKING AT ALL ALREADY.
Reminding me of this or that commitment or wanting permission for something or asking for money or a ride or an outfit or some bullshit for school and I’m like For the love of god leave me alone for ten minutes so I can contemplate how I’m ruining you by trying to avoid you but also I need to avoid you.
Since we’re on the subject, I also don’t think kid conversations need to enter every adult conversation and I will, in fact, reject the blithering talk of my kids to enjoy an actual adult conversation and if I see my kids pummeling an adult with a wild stream of speech acts, I will make them stop.
Having hung out with many, many parents over the years, I have learned that this is not the way every one parents, and in fact, many parents make the child the center of all existence always and forever, no matter how fucking boring the kid is.
Did I just say kids are kinda boring?
Yes. Yes I did.
It’s not about “seen and not heard.” Nah, it’s about recognizing when you’re dominating the conversation, assuming you’re the only one that matters, taking over everything because it’s fun for you. I know adults like that. They only get invited to dinner once.
Anyway, when it’s just the five of us in the car, and my teenager is telling me about the 463 things she’s got going on in the next week and my 7-year-old is telling me about what this one kid said in line today and also when can she get horse riding lessons and the three-year-old is recounting a day when he went into the clouds on a submarine and saved his grandfather from a monster who lived in a tree, and I’m sitting there trying to drive or think or plan dinner or my inner spiritual life, what I really want to say is: EVERYBODY SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Instead, if it’s really bad, I’ll yell something like, “Everybody be quiet for 30 seconds so I can think.”
Or I turn the music way up.
Or I try to choose which kid is actually saying something that matters, and I hone in on that one and ask the others to cease and desist.
The toddler just keeps on going. Forever. NBD. Who needs an audience?
What sort of bullshit genetic defect did I inherit that I have to hear every single goddamn fucking word that exits my children’s mouths?
There should be some sort of default silencing shut-down system in every brain to allow for the muting of unending child words.
And the worst part is that sometimes they say the sweetest and deepest shit imaginable, and I’m overwhelmed by adoration for their weird little kid brains.
But truly, no more dream talk. And I’ll wear a shirt if I want to, toddler. Also, tell your future therapist it’s not my fault. I have misophonia.
I HAVE KID MISOPHONIA.
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