It’s a typical afternoon at the Eberhardt household.
Five year old Big Brother is telling a story. He’s put together a good one. He’s got a whole world set up on the dining table — grass and trees, a mountain overflowing with lava, and a castle perched at the top of the mountain. Inside the castle is a Princess. On the far side of the world is a knight.
“Look, Mummy!” Big Brother says. “The knight is going to rescue the Princess! First he has to climb over this wall of rocks. Then he has to cross the bridge over a river of lava, but it’s guarded by a fire-breathing dragon! And behind the dragon is a snake that can’t be killed by anything and it has poisonous venom and if it bits you, you turn into dust. And die. And then there’s a forest full of poisonous trees…”
He keeps going, but I don’t hear him. There’s something about monkeys and poison and flying gorillas and a heap more obstacles for the knight to overcome if he’s to win the love of the Princess trapped in the tower.
It’s not that I’m ignoring him. Or that I don’t care about this particular incarnation of his oft-created hero’s journey. The problem is Little Brother.
Twenty-0ne month old Little Brother has realised his brother is the one getting all the attention, and he’s decided to remedy that situation.
“Mummy!” Bang! “Mummy!” Bang! “Mummy!” Bang! “Mummy!” Bang!
In between each shriek of my name, he slams both hands against the tray of his high chair. (Oh, did I not mention he was in his high chair? Sorry. He’s in his high chair because I’ve had enough and I just can’t take it anymore and all I want is five minutes of peace and quiet.) He’s not calling me because he needs something. He’s calling me because he likes the sound of the word. And because he gets a little thrill every time I look in his direction. And because he likes tormenting me.
Okay, I may have made up the last bit.
Big Brother starts telling the story of his brave knight’s quest. Loudly. It has to be loud so he can hear himself over the sound of Little Brother yelling.
“Once upon a time there was a knight who was very brave and very bold–”
“–find the Princess. “I can do it!” the–”
“–with his horse, Dashing. When he–”
I start looking for the wine.
My husband arrives about then. It could bes because he’s just getting home from work. It could be because he’s working night shift and is just waking up. In either case, he walks into the room and asks, “How’s your day been?”
At least, I assume that’s what he asks. I can’t actually hear him.
“”–stop you!” the dragon growls. Mummy, do dragons growl?”
“Mummy? Do they?”
“Sure,” I say.
“That doesn’t even make sense,” says my husband.
“–fire! But the brave knight–”
“–was your day?”
“What did you–”
“–dragon died. The brave knight–”
It’s about now that I decide to take control of the situation. I have to. I can’t even hear myself think. So I do the only thing I can if I want to keep myself sane amidst all the noise outside my mind.
As they say: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. So I crank up some music, sing loud enough to drown out the rest of the noise and dance like nobody’s watching until the rest of the family joins in.
Works every time.
How do you survive a house full of noise?