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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PeggyWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 11:08
40 years of this????????????????????
Some quiet please,before I die.
RosaThursday, 14 December, 2017 at 15:43
Omg Peggy, I just died. 40 years? Say it ain’t so Plucky, say it ain’t so.
I laughed and died a little inside because I find the prospect terrifying and terrific all at the same time.
Which is why I have 5 children.
PeggyThursday, 14 December, 2017 at 17:07
It’s absolutely true. Our eldest daughter Is 39,youngest son 14. 5 is the magic number with a 13 yr. gap between #2 and #3. God has a sense of humor. Same adorable husband for 43 yrs.
MichelleWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 11:28
My husband invented the “Let’s see how long you can hold your breath!” game in the car. It offers about a minute of beautiful silence.
BeckyWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 13:49
We call that “the quiet game”, and it buys us approximately 35 seconds ????
SaraWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 11:32
You are spot on. My 5 year olds never stop talking, and my partner hates silence so even when they finally go to bed there is TV or music or him talking or singing to himself. I’ll regularly have two kids and one man talking to me at the same time, with music in the background, while I’m trying to make the grocery list. It’s especially fun with ADD.
MegWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 11:44
Yes. One thousand percent. Why do I need to know every tiny little detail about what goes on in your head? My teenager has started noticing me trying to avoid them and has started calling me on it. And you know what? I feel guilty about it, but for crying out loud I just need a few moments of blessed silence with nobody asking me for anything!!!! Thank you for this post.
ShawnaWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 11:57
Oh sweet ceiling cat, you have nailed it again for every mother, ever.
STFU is my inner mantra, while maintaining a zen-like external level of interest (I joke, most times my STFU mantra is exposed all over my face – sometimes it comes out of my face.)
I learned the other day that the average human can realistically only make between 12 and 20 decisions a day before they are overwhelmed. The business improvement person who said this said it in context of simplifying life. As in: make your life simpler by having to make fewer decisions, then you can make more decisions for your business.
I think there were only men in the studies in his background information, but that’s perhaps another discussion, for another day.
The way I look at it, in the daily grind of being a mom, I make 80 + decisions, plus 35 lists, and (if I’m lucky) two rational thoughts in a row, while under constant attack from the league of underage yackityackers. It is the work of a fucking GODDESS if the average human is only capable of 12 to 20/day.
I’ll commit to working on simplifying my life (go me) as long as shrieking Shut The Fuck Up is always on the list of ‘good’ decisions.
RosemarieWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 15:32
LOLOLOL I’m adding ” sweet ceiling cat” to my vocabulary immediately!
Rachel RomanoWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 12:01
The other day one of my kids asked me who I like the best, and I replied “whoever’s sleeping”. We all laughed but I was actually quite serious.
Karen LindquistWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 12:20
I am just the wicked stepmother figure, so when this happens in my house i simply go upstairs to read or watch tv. Because i can 😀
Then i run it in their dad’s face. Because there is no way he is sticking me with that endless stream of meaningless gossip about which fifth graders are breaking up at school or some story that I can’t even tell what the hell happened because kids usually just do not make any sense when they talk.
Cats don’t talk. Cats are my heroes.
MonicaWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 12:21
Nailed it! Thank you for making me feel like I’m not a horribly selfish and impatient mother, I’m normal and anyone that says different is LYING!
ChaseWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 12:22
I have to admit, the wall of indecipherable sound that comes from multiple kids together is a contributing factor to being one and done, and that was just thinking about how much noise they all make in groups without even considering that they all might be talking to me at the same time. I have a hard enough time when it’s my husband and my kid, and at least I can use it to teach the 3-year-old about taking turns.
Cheryl S.Wednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 13:23
Misophonia is totally a real thing. It means “dislike of sound”. Google it. There are web pages about it. It sometimes goes along with OCD (makes sense).
I just have a general sensitivity to noise so my husband and I are continually fighting over the volume of everything. TV, Radio, Music, voices, etc!
My daughter tells me that none of her friends talk to their parents either, so I really do try to pay attention, because I don’t want her to stop talking (even when I really DO want her to stop talking!)
KarynWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 15:22
Oh, wow…thank god someone else is saying this, too. I have only one actual child and her incessant chatter makes me want to apply duct tape as part of a regular dressing ritual. HOW DO YOU SURVIVE FOUR OF THEM? Miraculous.
I lose my shit on occasion when it’s her, the husband, the dog, and the ever-present radio (that everyone seems to think is an absolute requirement at home). They know I’m done when I just stutter and yell, “mmmnnnmsnsnmsnsm…NO MORE TALKING!”
Yep, I’m that bitch mom that says that to my kid. I’m sure it’s doing psychological damage. The way I see it, at least I’m choosing the type of damage to inflict. Go me!
RosemarieWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 15:30
Yes Yes Yes! OMG its the one thing that was awesome about the school year.( mostly I hated the school year more than my kids did i think) only 3 years separating all 4 kids so yea, there was a long stretch that everyone was in school and I could drop them all off and come home to blissful ~silence~ it was great! I do miss lots of the little kid stage BUT I DO NOT MISS THE NOISE!
TauriWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 16:08
I told my older three they got two sentences worth of dream or video game recap to share with me and that was it. Make it awesome! My second son liked the challenge.
Dream sharing is The Worst! Don’t tell me shit that didn’t happen. There is too much actual shit I need to focus on.
Also, Almost Stories…my husband loves to tell me how he Almost said or did something. What the…? Why?!
JoanneWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 16:55
Oh my god, yes! So much yes! I’m an elementary school teacher and those kids NEVER. STOP. TALKING. I deal with 30-150 kids between the ages of 3-14 and then I come home to my four-year-old and one-year-old who also never stop talking, and I’m just so tired. All the time. I have occasionally debated removing my one remaining eardrum just for some peace.
jennWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 19:42
These shirts. For all the kids. https://www.raygunsite.com/blogs/news/help-im-talking-and-i-cant-shut-up
Kathy SWednesday, 13 December, 2017 at 21:49
Hahahahaha! ( I get that feeling with my husband and in-laws)
AubrieThursday, 14 December, 2017 at 7:38
I have misophonia too. My kid makes the most horrible noises emanating from somewhere between his nose and his throat when he is sick. It isn’t quite as rage-inducing as the chewing sounds, but it’s pretty bad. And my youngest, sadly inherited my genetic flaw of verbal diarrhea. Even though I am a woman of many words, I find myself telling him that he can’t talk any longer, he’s used up all the words that are allotted for today. I seriously think there is a limit on the number of words my brain can take in each day and he definitely goes over that limit by 10am.
Jocelyn MaloneThursday, 14 December, 2017 at 7:54
YES! Misophonia is REAL. Chewing noises, repetitive sounds, anything high pitched, sneezes, hell pencil on paper sets my ears to itching and me wanting to kidney punch the offender. One and done, and I swear the one was born with the gift of never ending dreams to discuss, children to narc out at school, and stories about butts/pee/poo. She is almost 8 and really into Minecraft, so I feel horrible mother guilt for letting her play unfettered and the sweet delight that comes from concentrated silence.
Well, until she asks me several dozen times if I want to see what she just built, or if I want to play (HELL-FUCKING-NO will always be the answer, kid), or best: if I want to watch her play. GOD NO.
I marvel at folks with 2 kids, anything above that to me is incomprehensible. I have zero patience for mindless chatter, being asked questions that will always elicit a “NO!” response from me, and both me and the kid have ADHD.
And if I never hear the phrase “Guess what” ever again it will be too soon.
LindaFriday, 15 December, 2017 at 6:07
Hallelujah! I am not alone in Peppa Pig! I don’t know how many times a day you can legally say, ‘No, we are not watching Peppa Pig!”
Rima RamFriday, 15 December, 2017 at 9:07
Gosh! I thought my kids are the worst of the lot but apparently not. It gets worse when there is music and/or tv playing in the background along with the barrage of chatter. This morning inspite of being sleepy eyed, my 7 year old started with “I had 3 dreams last night and yada yada happened in each dream” and in my head I am thinking ” Am I a horrible mom for not wanting to listen to this shit, I should prolly ask him in few minutes when am willing to listen”.
KrisFriday, 15 December, 2017 at 10:38
The toddler just keeps on going. Forever. NBD. Who needs an audience?
MeaganSunday, 17 December, 2017 at 8:25
The dreams!! Auggghhhh, they go on forevvveeerrrrr, and I hate myself but I say I’m only listening to what you actually dreamed about, not what you are adding right now!
JeriWednesday, 20 December, 2017 at 19:55
I also want to stab my husband when he eats chips. You are not alone.
KimTuesday, 16 January, 2018 at 6:35
I too hate hearing people chew. My youngest is always in my personal space (like pretty much on top of me and she’s 10) so she is usually chewing in my ear, but I can hear it from the other room…and it pisses me off so bad. I find myself constantly saying, “Chew with your lips closed! I can hear you!”
Also, yesterday I actually caught her saying something I probably should have not tuned out (which I am good at after 24 years of parenting) and I said, “Hunter, I was concentrating on the placement of these letters on YOUR science project and tuned you out…what were you saying?” She started over. And don’t get me started on science project hell…she’s dyslexic and I am pretty sure she doesn’t remember how to pronounce voltaic or electrolyte or even remember what they were in relation to her project (which she did actually do I just had to make it so that the teachers could understand what she did…). But I digress…