"Maww-mee! MAAWWWWW-MEEEEEE!!" "Pat, Pat-look! Look at what I can do!? Pat! Pat?!" "Yahhhhhhh!" "Mommy? Look! Mommy?!" "Adinah, will you sit down please?" "V., will you give me the knife? Give me the knife please, V."
This is the sound of our house tonight.
Jumping Jesus in heaven, grant me strength.
Adinah needs all of our attention all of the time, and V. has learned that if she wants something, she should yell, then scream, then shriek. It's Triple Bonus Multi-Ball Overtime Final Jeopardy Extended Play and Double Live Gonzo. Blue-in-the-face scream-a-delica.
So sometimes Papa just leaves the fuckin' room. It's better than shouting at them.
But I do that too. I do that even though on calmer, quieter nights, when me and the kids are taking a bath, we can hear our tattooed and depressed neighbor screaming non-stop at his kids, and we all shake our heads, and Adinah says things like "Some people don't like each other." In those moments, I feel superior, I feel like a better sort of papa. But tonight, as V. yelled and hollered and wailed with displeasure, I yelled at her several times. "Why are you yelling at her, Papa?," Adinah asked. "You are saying she shouldn't scream, but then you are screaming at V."
"You're right, Adinah," I said, with the slightest crack of a smile. "That's a good point. I guess I'm yelling because I'm frustrated. I don't know how else to get V. to be quiet."
These days, these days. It's very difficult to be heard in our house these days. Before sleepy-time, it seems like adult talk is all short bursts, expletives, fragments--anything else is interrupted, or drowned out. And if I'm patient, and don't yell, I just shrink. Anette asks me why I'm so quiet, and I tell her I don't think I can be heard. There's no more room in this kitchen.
This is part of why I go out by myself. On most of my nights off, I just don't want to talk to or be talked at by anyone. And maybe it explains why sometimes even my beloved pop music--including everything from ambient techno to Buddy Holly-- is too hectic, too much sound in the room.
I need more quiet time. I can't hear myself think.