My children are fluent in English, Gibberish, and Screamish

My kids are almost four years apart – 5 and 17-months – so to date, their relationship has mostly entailed my older daughter trying to poke, hug, squeeze or pick up her baby sister until we stage an intervention. All in all, it’s been pretty manageable.

But now we are entering a phase where they are starting to play together more, which is of course awesome and so enjoyable to witness. However I am realizing there is a new parenting skill that I have yet to master – which is the ability to understand the international language of siblings, also known as CONSTANT AND UNNECESSARY SCREAMING.

Seriously. What the hell.

I’ve noticed this never-ending ROAR whenever I’m around my friends who have multiple children. It never ceases to surprise and amaze me how the screaming is like white noise to them. They just carry on like nothing is happening, while the kids are seemingly screaming bloody murder in the background. No big deal.

But when you only have one kid, or one + a baby, the Sibling Scream phenomenon is foreign and can be truly jarring.

Last weekend we were at the home of friends who have a 4- and 6-year-old. My 5-year-old had a blast tearing around the house with them, unleashing her inner wild animal. I have no idea what they were doing, other than what sounded like a non-stop game of Who Can Scream Loudest.

At first I found it hard to relax. Are they injuring one another? Should I go check on them?? But I noticed that our friends seemed totally unphased by it, so surely this must be the norm.

Then the children came running upstairs like a herd of elephants and raced into a bedroom. I saw the 6-year-old standing outside the door screaming like a banshee – what’s new? – so I continued to sip my cocktail and chat. Suddenly my husband launched out of his chair and ran over to the boy, realizing that in fact his finger had been shut in the door, and his scream was one of HOLY MOTHEREFFER I AM IN PAIN.

I seriously had no idea that this scream was any different from all the rest. I couldn’t help but wonder if my virgin ears are not yet attuned to the screams of play vs. danger. Is one piercing, and the other more guttural? Is one higher-pitched? Longer maybe?

Either way that poor kid probably thinks I’m a heartless monster the way I just sat there doing nothing as he writhed in agony.

I just learned that this kid actually broke his finger that day. Well done, Amy. Sit idly by while innocent children shatter their bones in your midst.

The whole scream thing was on my mind after this incident, but then the next day I let my kids play downstairs while I tried to get a few things done. This is a relatively new thing for us – letting them play together without parental oversight in the same room.

Every other minute someone was screaming.

At first I assumed the worst and raced down the stairs expecting blood, injury or death. DEARGOD WHO HAS BEEN HARMED?! SHOULD I CALL 911? I DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE A TOURNIQUET!!

Turns out they were just tickling each other. While screaming. Back upstairs.

The next time it was a toy-related altercation. Which now happens constantly. Back upstairs.

And so on. I went up and down the stairs 6 times in the span of 10 minutes. Part of the challenge is that the little one only babbles. So I never know what the hell she’s saying anyway, let alone when she starts yelling all the time. Are you enjoying yourself? Is that a scream of pain? No clue. It was just an endless barrage of noise, always turned up to 11.


Is this now my reality? Will I always be on red alert, or will my blood pressure eventually come down while they play? And does anyone know where I can purchase some earplugs?

13 thoughts on “My children are fluent in English, Gibberish, and Screamish

  1. What is this never ending roar you speak of? I have no idea. I don’t hear a thing.

    Seriously though, you will not always be on high alert. My husband always asks if I’m going to see what’s going on in there, and I’m all “nope. They’re fine.” It will eventually fade more into a giant eye roll every time someone screams. Because someone is ALWAYS screaming. And crying. And growling. And by the time I get there to break it up, they are laughing again.

  2. I have three sons and a small house. When I say house, I really mean smallish box. It gets very loud. That is all.

    • I have a friend with three sons. Soon after the birth of her third she moved to a house that has a basement. She calls it the “playroom” but I think it’s more of a holding cell. I applaud you both. From a safe distance.

  3. Ugh, with the screaming. I intervene at every scream and tell them that I know they can find a solution without screaming. If they can’t, I say, I can take away the toys and send them to different rooms, but I don’t want to and know I don’t need to.
    I leave and they whisper for a while. Then scream.

    I’ve heard from reliable sources it gets much, much better then the youngest if four because they are finally in control of their language and can negotiate.

    I’m counting the days. 300.

  4. My kids weren’t supposed to scream unless there was blood loss or a bone sticking through the skin (they are almost four years apart). Yelling happens, but screaming like your fingernails are being pulled out is not acceptable. Unless your fingernails are being pulled out.

  5. Well put! Our situation is a little different: when my Englishman is taking care of my niece/nephew (and that doesnt happen a lot unfortunately) and they want to get naughty or just plot behind his back, they speak siblings-Polish which is, obviously, a louder and painful version of Polish.
    He is so concerned everytime and calls me to ask about the meaning of some words…pretty funny to me, though!

  6. I have a 3 1/2 year old in speech therapy, and a 13 month old.
    There is A LOT of babbling, screaming (indignant ones mostly) and gibberish. I can discern the “The big one pushed me over so I face planted” scream because that happens at least 3 times a day. Sigh.

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