The secret to being a good parent is being loud. No joke. You see some folks tip-toeing around, whispering, shaking fingers, shushing kids, or talking to them like adults. Doesn’t work. You have to act like a kid to be heard by one. And kids are extremely noisy.
Every morning is the same routine at my house. Joey, 14-months, wakes up first and then Lainey, age 6, gets up seconds later. Then the two kids are in each other’s faces screaming nonsense, wrestling and laughing hysterically.
“Lainey, please be quiet,” I say and grab my aching head. Even after two coffees their voices still rang in my ears.
“Be quiet, settle down!” I was so sick of saying that. They never listened to me.
So you know what? I gave up. If they want to be loud, let’s do this. I can yell. Want to yell nonsense words—great! Mine will be goofier, and funnier with more syllables and rhyme. Want to do fart noises? Okay by me. Dance all crazy, sing and shake your butt? Fine, check mine out.
Man, did my plan work. The kids were cracking up. And I laughed too. Really big, belly shaking laughs, losing my breath. I was at the house doing nothing special, just having a blast with the kids for the first time in too long.
But I still kept that Dad card in my back pocket, and when I pulled it, Lainey listened. We had fun that day, and it felt like she knew me again. We reconnected. She had listened to my nonsense, and so she listened to my direction too.
It’s tough playing disciplinarian all the time. I was in a rut where every word I spoke was an order. I got burned-out. It happens. Somewhere along the line focus is lost. The kids were fine, but I had stopped listening to them. Checked out. Sucked into my own thoughts.
But just like music or applause, volume rattles your head, shakes things up. And the loudest voice is your own. So go nuts. Have fun. Be loud when they are good, not bad. Yell with them, not at them. Try keeping up with their crazy antics, I dare you. They won’t be goofy forever.