Silence - The Scariest Sound in our Home

Every parent wishes for some peace and quiet. I do too. So every minute of the day that DD’s gone – to her school or for a play date, I savor the time. I relish it. That’s my time. I can go to the spa, read a book, catch up on a sitcom episode I missed or take a long bath washing the filth on me from her spilled food and splashed paint. And I also end up straightening the house – knowing fully well that when the tornado comes back, it’s all just going to be one huge mess again.  But even so, the moments before she arrives, I take pictures of the house to longingly look at when it’s in a complete clutter later. Our house does have the potential to look splendid. Sigh!

So anyway, the moments that she isn’t there are indeed peaceful moments. But I think there’s something about parenthood that’s just not humanly possible to explain. It’s a masochistic concept. The first hour, first two hours and may be even the first two  and a half hours without the kids feel like perfect bliss, but from the third hour – we miss the reason we are always on our feet. We miss having to nag some short person to straighten things up, even cleaning after them. We miss the constant chatter, the constant questioning, and the constant whining. Why would any parent want all the insanity? As I said, we’re on auto pilot on the masochistic approach to life.

But the silence because of the absence of the kid is not all that scary, it’s just nostalgic; we know where they are, we know they’re safe. We just miss the sound of dynamites bursting inside the house. But the silence that terrorizes the living hell out of us is the absence of any sound, when the kid is in the house. You never know which wall is completely painted, (We had concrete walls in India, before we moved here, so there’s no paper to just peel off) or which colored permanent marker is now adorning her cute face or  which drawer’s been completely emptied and is now serving as Her Majesty’s new throne. It’s the uncertainty and the myriad possibilities that cause the panic attack.

Today, I was in the kitchen completely immersed in sautéing the onions to the right color when I suddenly became aware of the silence in the house when I dropped my spoon down. It resounded. I had chills running down my spine. I ran like a maniac through the house searching for DD. Where on Earth was she? I couldn’t scream for her; I knew I’d spook her and she may just drop whatever mess making equipment she has in her hands and increase my efforts in the cleaning process.  Oh God, please let there be noise; some noise; any noise, I prayed. And that’s when I heard the bar stools being dragged. The sound was coming from the basement! How did she manage to drag the bar stools from the kitchen to the basement? The stools have cast iron legs and a wooden seat – so they’re really very heavy. And this four year old girl was dragging it through the basement. I ran to see if she was ok.

Luckily, nothing had happened. In her defense, she said she wanted to reach the tap near the washer to wash the stains she’d collected in her hands from using Papa’s paints. She knows the paints are beyond reach – we kept them that way. But here she was, independently doing what’s prohibited. We purposely did not buy a stepping stool here, learning from our experiences in India. There, everywhere she went, the stool went with her. Everything she tried reaching out to, fell on her. So that’s flour, cookies, flowers, and one time, she narrowly missed the vase. So we decided, even if we have to get up every second of every day trying to bring things down to her, it was worth it. It would reduce our chances of running to ER. One small thing we missed -necessity is the mother of invention. Or in her case necessity is the mother of mischief. She did find a work around.

So I’ve decided –becoming a ‘Master Chef’ can wait till she’s actually tall and strong enough to fend for herself without being hurt. Like ‘Survivor’ we can learn to live on burnt onion and bland curry. It is important that I tune in to the sound of calm. I think I really need to get her all the bangles there are and follow the sound to be aware of her whereabouts in future. So much for silence!

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