Whenever my kids ask me what I want, I’ll answer the same thing: Peace and quiet.
After a week with a lot of that, I’ll have to alter my answer. Laughter is so much better.
Our 11- and 10-year-old daughters were away at a camp last week. Our 17-year-old was in and out of the house a lot with band commitments in the evenings, so we didn’t overlap with her much. The only kid around us much was our 5-year-old girl, and without older kids, she tended to keep to herself and play in her room a lot.
For the first time I could remember, all I heard was quiet.
I know quiet is the absence of noise, but you still hear it when it’s abnormal in your life. Between these four girls, we hear a lot of chatter. What they like. What they don’t like. What they want. What they don’t want. Who did what to whom and how.
Most days, it seems kind of endless. I’m a bit of an introvert, so I really don’t understand the urge to vocalize every single idea that pops into your head.
In other words, I’d sure like some peace and quiet.
Until I had it, that is.
At the risk of sounding like a horror movie: It was quiet. It was too quiet.
When it’s that quiet, you can hear any time the dogs walk from one room to another. You can hear when a neighbor three or four doors down mows the lawn. You can hear an ambulance driving by a few blocks away.
What you can’t hear is laughter. You don’t realize how many of your belly-laughs in life come from an 11-year-old using an exceptional pun. You don’t understand how much you enjoy the off-the-wall stories of a 10-year-old recounting her bizarre dreams, which I suspect are just funny ideas she prefers blaming on her subconscious.
We were reunited with our girls for about three minutes before I heard myself laugh — really laugh — for the first time since we’d dropped them off at camp.
Our house is chaotic again. There are multiple conversations going on again, where they share every idea and every story in their head. It’s still a little overwhelming to hear it all.
There’s also laughter, though, which makes it completely worth the chaos.
I know there are only so many years of this chatter remaining. Our oldest showed us that every year, your children share less and less about themselves and their days. You hear fewer and fewer funny stories. Being a teen kicks you into your own world of seclusion, since parents just don’t understand anything.
There are fewer chances to laugh with them too. That’s why I’ll try to enjoy it all now. Peace and quiet sounds good in theory, but I’ll take their laughter and mine every time.