The doorbell rings and I let out a startled yell. I hear Mrs C giggle from outside the front door. Mrs C provides respite services for me for 2 hours every month and so she is used to my startled response to the doorbell. Once Mrs C tried knocking on the door instead but it still had the same effect.
My boys are similarly affected by loud noise. From a young age they would grizzle and whine and wake from sleep when I ran water in the sink, clattered cutlery or started the washing machine or the vacuum cleaner. They love to jump out and scare people with a loud “BOO” but will be completely terrified and dissolve into tears if someone does the same to them.
Headphones have become a standard item packed when visiting environments with the potential to be generally noisy such as the football or the cinema. There has even been the odd occasion when my boys have made a lot of noise and I’ve been feeling extra sensitive and I’ve worn the headphones around the house myself. I can attest to the fact that it does help to lower my stress levels and improve my mood.
Recently, Jeremy has developed an unusual habit of holding his nose while sniffing to “turn off” his ears. The pressure this action creates in his ears is similar to the blocking effect of changing altitude on the ears. It fulfills two of his needs, the sensory need to fiddle (touch) and the need to reduce outside stimuli (sound). I have talked to Jeremy about it to see if there was something that could be done to reduce this particular need (such as by using ear plugs or fiddle toys) but he said that although other kids have noticed it, they haven’t asked him to stop and so he doesn’t want to stop doing it. He likes doing it. Jeremy’s teacher also mentioned the habit to me in passing one day and I reassured her that it was just one of Jeremy’s idiosyncrasies and nothing to be concerned about.
Ironically, my boys and I are by no means shrinking violets when it comes to making noise ourselves. Damian’s teacher recently commented on how much she loves hearing Damian singing very loudly and completely (and obliviously) out of tune. At the end of last year, each grade performed a Christmas song and dance routine, which were professionally recorded onto a CD and you could clearly hear Damian’s voice above the rest of his grade still completely out of tune of course.
Jeremy’s voice can get incredibly loud, sometimes we just have to remind him that he is standing right next to us and not a mile away when talking to us. I’ve also got a healthy set of vocal cords on me too. You know how it is when someone is going partly deaf from old age and they tend to yell, either because they can’t hear themselves or they assume that because they can’t hear you that you can’t hear them, well I’m guilty of that. I’m not ‘going deaf’ but I’ve referred to my auditory processing difficulties as they relate to speech before (click here) and it seems to have the same effect on my speech volume as partial deafness might. It’s probably the same for Jeremy.
But it’s not just my speech volume…
When I gave birth to Damian, I screamed so loud and so continuously that when the nurses’ attempts to ‘shush’ me failed they forcibly shoved the gas tube in my mouth against my expressed wishes. It made me so angry that I bit down hard on the tube in defiance and screamed, just as loud, with my teeth clenched. Although, I do not approve of the nurses actions because last time I checked we have the right to scream during childbirth, I do recognize that my screams were probably unlike any screams they have heard before and likely terrified many patients in the hospital (not just the maternity ward).
Not only do I have a loud voice (and scream) but I have one of those laughs that make people cringe. It’s a cackle. It’s been known to make babies cry (literally). Each Halloween, when I dress up in my standard witches costume, I joke that finally my laugh is right for the occasion.
One of my sisters’ got married on the weekend and I unknowingly chose a place to listen to the speeches that was behind the official video cameraman. The speeches were the most entertaining wedding speeches that I have ever had the pleasure of listening too before. I wasn’t the only one in hysterics (laughter). My youngest sister told me that at one point during the speeches she heard my laugh from across the hall and it made her laugh. I feel very sorry for whoever has the job of editing that video because I realize now that my guffaws may have tainted the audio somewhat.
Although, Damian and Jeremy have inherited my loudness (speaking, singing and screaming), there is still hope with regard to their laughs. Recently, Jeremy has tried out several types of laughs and has adopted one that sounds eerily similar to ‘Sheldon’s’ character in the TV show the ‘Big Bang Theory’. The verdict is still out on whether that laugh is an improvement.
So, often when I ask Jeremy and Damian to lower their voices in public (such as libraries or motels); I am quick to acknowledge that I can’t really give them too hard a time for it; after all they inherited it from me.
As for my laugh; well, surely you can’t begrudge someone laughter, it’s good for the soul.