parenting_help_and_adviceBy Kristi Grigg
Making headlines last week was the shopping centre who proclaimed that screaming children would not be tolerated. I tried putting the same sign up at home but nobody cared.
My three children have been/are all screamers. Ear splitting, teeth clenching, stop-or-I’ll-bang-my-head-against-the-wall screamers. We’ve been given more dirty looks than most people have had hot dinners.
We’ve been through more ear plugs than your average industrial factory and what makes me laugh the loudest is the people who expect you to make them stop. Do they honestly think we haven’t tried?? Or that we actively encourage the practice purely to make stranger’s shopping experiences a little less enjoyable?
My first two babies started squealing around eight or nine months. Loud happy squeals that make you jump a little but as they’re a happy noise you laugh it off. Then it changes into a noise that says I’m unhappy with the situation and I want you to know – and the neighbours four houses down.
Then it becomes an any time I’m hungry/sad/tired/grumpy/whatever scream that leaves your ears ringing and your head pounding. We tried saying no, ignoring the scream, time outs in their bed, walking away from them, screaming back, you name it, we gave it a try. The only thing that worked was time. When my six year old was around eighteen months he developed a huge vocabulary and finally found that he could get more if he used it instead of screaming.
My almost-four year old was a little longer in talking and didn’t really start to talk properly until he was nearly three so used his scream for lots of things until then. They both still use it now when they hurt themselves or feel an injustice has been done (sibling fights). My youngest is fourteen months and she’s only discovered her scream in the last couple of months. I’m pretty sure she’s making me prematurely deaf.  It’s horrible.
I’ve had arguments with complete strangers over whether my boys were boys or girls because boys don’t scream like that. I’ve cried my eyes out for the entire duration of a flight because my daughter screamed the whole trip no matter what I did and most people were giving me the kinds of looks that wished instant death on me (the lady next to me and the flight attendants were completely fabulous, thank goodness). I’ve had people get up and leave the table next to us at restaurants and food courts muttering about how children should be seen and not heard.
For a long time I wasn’t comfortable taking my eldest out because of the receptions we were getting. All of these people made me feel like it was my fault. That somehow I should have been able to make them stop. I felt like a failure because I didn’t know how to make them stop. But nobody else could tell me either! My own mother said that they must have gotten it from my husband’s side of the family because we didn’t make noise like that! My children’s godmother told me she thought of us when she saw the shopping centre sign on the news – we have a reputation.
I have at least seen the light at the end of the tunnel and know that it does (mostly) stop and have also toughened up and care less about the reactions of others. I do however, agree that there are child appropriate places and agree wholeheartedly with the option of a family section on long flights.
More so that the families can then laugh together about some of the everyday challenges that parenting brings. A kind word and a knowing smile can do wonders when you’re feeling alone. A food court next to a child’s play area? Child appropriate. A restaurant that is marketed as family friendly? Child appropriate. A five-star restaurant with a dress code? Not-my-child appropriate. I know our limits.
Are your children screamers? Have you found anything that makes them stop? Do screaming children in the shops drive you crazy? What’s your opinion?
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