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.

LET’S PLAY WITH THIS TOY! NO! STOP! DADDADOODEE WHERE IS MY SOCK MAMMA MEH MEH GIVE ME BACK MY SOCK BA BA BA NO! OWWW! I JUST ATE A BOOGER YOU JUST ATE MY BOOGER WHOSE BOOGER IS ON MY FINGER.

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?

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