My youngest son has an amazing laugh. Everyone who hears it smiles big and tells us the same thing, “He’s incredible!” and I nod my head in agreement, because he is. The only problem is that his laugh drives me batty … well, sometimes.
Big Laughs in Small Spaces
As a raging introvert, the hardest part about raising two of “those boys” (the ones who are 250% boy?) is the constant “boy noise,” especially when it’s in small spaces. I’m convinced that if we lived on 2+ acres of farm land in the country, their noise wouldn’t be a problem. I could simply scoot them out the door after school and let them be boys. Unfortunately, we live on less than half an acre right on the outskirts of our city. We have one semi-climbable tree and neighbors who we think like us in spite of the high decibels coming from our home—but we do not have room for our boys to run and be as loud as they’d like.
I long for this (LONG for it, I say) kind of life for my boys. I want them to run, fall, scrape their knees, build things from scratch, and learn to “rough it.” And in spite of our close quarters, I do try to stoke their creative little boy fires as much as possible.
My rough and tumble boys are also fiddlers. Every week we drive almost four hours round trip to take them to violin lessons with the best instructor we can afford, because they have a gift and find great pleasure in playing this instrument. For the first hour or so of the trip, things are usually fine, but just give it enough time and the “big laugh in small spaces phenomenon,” as we’ve come to call it, creeps out and starts to drive mama crazy.
My little guy, who others see as simply amazing, starts to sound like a hyena on crack … or at least it sounds that way to me.
I’ve asked, begged, threatened disciplined, and explained why it’s so important to me as the driver that he keeps it down. I’ve pulled over, driven faster, and thought seriously about never getting in another car with this kid for the rest of my life … but nothing works (obviously … he’s six … I have a few more years before I can actually refuse to get in the car with him).
If it were only a matter of time spent in the car, I would probably be OK. But over time, an immediate physical and emotional response started to occur in me at the sound of his laughter whether we were in the car or not, and I found myself completely unable to tolerate his laughter on any level.
I was so annoyed by my son’s inability to control the power of his laugh, that I was punishing him for even having one.
Imagine that … punishing a child for laughing. Possibly one of my finest mothering moments. Most certainly one of the things my son will tell his wife one day to explain why he’s so messed up.
Because we struggled so much to gain control of our son’s amazing laugh, I couldn’t even hear him be happy without wanting to explode. But just because I want to explode doesn’t mean I have to. With God’s help I can control my emotions instead of letting them control me, and re-train myself to take delight in the laughter of my own child.
So can you.
The second video in our free Fighting for Those Hard-to-Handle Boys series is called How to Keep from Losing it When Your Kids Won’t Obey.
Click here and get instant access to this video. And if you missed video #1 (how to help other people handle your hard-to-handle boys), watch it here!
I so appreciate all you guys do, but I’m not sure I understand the format. As a mom currently hiding out in my room trying not to explode at my boys, I’m looking for help, encouragement, and suggestions. I thought this article was a Godsend when I saw it in my newsfeed, but I was disappointed to see that it was not a helpful article, but something that felt more commercial. I was required to sign up to see the video. When I went to see the video, it said that it was full. I know you guys need to get paid too, but please keep in mind the desperate mom curled up in her room that is looking for some help. I don’t have much of a community in raising my boys and right now and feeling so discouraged.
I see this post is old, but one thing that worked for my kids (and me) was to look at the clock. I tell them, when they are irritated with each other, (if the other person is not sinning) to wait 5 minutes for the behavior to change. You may (kindly) ask them to stop after 5 minutes. Most irritating behavior (annoying, laughing, “boy noises” etc.) doesn’t last beyond 5 minutes. That gives me time to pray and them freedom from unnecessary discipline. As a mom my also have heard me ask for a “noise break”. No one is in trouble, mom just needs a _____ minutes of quiet.
I have four children and we do a lot of long distance travel in the car. My saving grace has been audio CD’s, I get them from the local libraries and buy some too. We’ve loved listening to the Narnia series (dramatised version and unabridged version), Enid Blyton, Jungle Doctor etc. It calms everyone down, gives everyone something to look forward to, helps the children use their imagination and creates a talking point as well as wonderful memories.