They grit their teeth and bear it for the first few seconds, like most people, but when it doesn’t stop they finally realize they have to say something. Aren’t they in charge after all? “Edward! Please stop making that noise!” Their pleas fall on deaf ears. At least I assume all the ears in the room are deaf by now, because he has been making his ear-splitting, high-pitched howling noise for quite some time. I smile warmly at the two college-age-looking girls who are trying to teach my son gymnastics. He is their responsibility for another 37 minutes.
Not that I could help them even if I wanted to. I have no idea how to shut that howl up. He makes it all the time. It is his happy noise. It is his excited noise. It is his battle cry and his triumphal entry music. I don’t want to quash his good feelings. On the other hand, it is the most painful sound I have ever heard. My wife and I have both suffered actual hearing loss over the past few years from having that frequency blasted into our ears, often from mere centimeters away, and sometimes while we are sleeping. So actually, never mind, I do want to quash that. It needs to stop. And I have no idea how to do it.
He does it at church. He does it in school. He howls in the grocery store. He howls in the car. My eye is twitching right now just thinking about it. I don’t know how he manages to hit that specific migraine-inducing frequency right on the nose every single time, but I simply can’t wait for his voice to change. Puberty is a long way off, and this problem needs to be dealt with now. It is so bad that we can’t even tell him to use his inside voice anymore, because then he thinks he can make that noise outside. The wind and the air cannot contain him. The earth’s atmosphere cannot dissipate his sound quickly enough. Even in an open field from several feet away, that howl is painful. I can hear him coming from, if not a mile away, at least several blocks down the street.
I have tried telling him how much his sounds hurts people’s heads, but he does not understand. It doesn’t hurt his head, so how could it hurt anyone else’s? I have sternly informed him that he is going to be sent to his room until he is 14 if he makes that sound again, but that doesn’t work either. He can use his banshee’s wail to vibrate the door to splinters. I don’t have an extra door. I have tried to get him to replace that sound with another, less damaging sound. No dice. I think he inherited my opera powers. I have clamped my hand over his mouth, but somehow the howl gets through that too. At this point I think my brain has melted somewhat from the incessant pounding of the sound waves; I am out of ideas.
So I do the only thing I can do. I take Advil. I send him to school to howl at his teachers. I send him to gymnastics to howl at his instructors. And I remind him 23 times a day that his howling is not an okay noise when there are people around. And perhaps this has nothing to do with him. Perhaps all of this is really just happening to teach me a life lesson. Because after a life time of loudness myself, I think I am finally starting to realize the beauty and the value of silence.