Dad Sounds, Ranked
An in-depth look at the sonic landscape of parenthood.
No preface. Just Dad Sounds, Ranked:
This is the sound of being awakened from the deepest point of one’s REM sleep cycle by the unexpected presence of a child at one’s bedside. It is possible that this child had a bad dream, or simply that they desire a glass of water. It is also possible that they have thrown up. It will take several seconds for the reason to become clear, a delay partially caused by your disorientation, having been wakened in the middle of a dream about work. You will spent the rest of the week slightly unsure as to whether a certain detail of your job happened in reality or in the world of dreams. Don’t worry about that right now, though. You’ve got a child’s puke to clean up.
11.) Knees cracking
You can’t even blame this one on an old sports injury. They were fine, and then one day they just started clicking for no good reason. Now when you walk down the stairs, it sounds like you’re about to break out into song and brawl with the Jets, or possibly explode. The latter seems more likely, if we’re being honest with ourselves.
A low grumble, indicating that you disagree with something but do not wish to engage in further discussion of said disagreement.
Audible acknowledgment of a piece of information that is being relayed to you that you are not actually paying attention to and will firmly deny any knowledge of when it becomes pertinent several weeks later.
Why wasn’t I told about this?
No, I would have remembered that.
The mother of all dad swears, it breaks down into multiple subcategories:
Sharp, emphatic. Situations include, but not limited to: Tool dropped on foot; lawnmower dies with 10% of lawn left unmowed, screwhead becomes stripped while assembling KidCraft play kitchen at 11pm on Christmas Eve.
Emphasis on first syllable; second and third syllable delivered more slowly, and at lower volume. Situations include: witnessing child spill drink on couch fifteen seconds after warning them that they should be careful if they were going to have a drink on the couch; receiving email indicating school closure tomorrow.
Caught yourself swearing in front of the children.
8d.) goddamnit [under breath, almost inaudible]
Child just dropped something and cursed themself, and you realize only in that moment that you have been cursing in front of them. Also, you’re at a large family gathering right now, or possibly lighting an advent candle as a family in front of a crowded church. Everyone heard.
7.) Telling a long and not at all interesting story that everyone present has heard many times without any acknowledgement that they not only know it but could recite it beat for beat from memory themselves by now
Did I ever tell you about the time I met Ethan Hawke? No, he was nice. Okay, so in 2006—
6.) A quiet, guttural burp that never actually exit the body, a sound somewhere between an office water cooler gurgling and an icemaker refilling
When did I become gross? Did parenthood make me gross, or was it just aging in general? Was I always gross?
The answer is yes, but in a different way. I have a TV stand and clean towels now, but [quiet, guttural burp] what was I saying
5.) Whistling or humming a sound that has been stuck in your head for 30 years
The science is still unclear as to how or why this happens, but at some point you will develop a signature sound, something that will become so firmly lodged in your consciousness so as to become inextricable from your personality itself. It might be a fraction of a melody from a song, or even a ringtone you heard in 2004. For me, it’s the boss music from Sonic The Hedgehog 2 for Sega Genesis; an older co-worker would quietly make the “chicka-chicka” sound from Yello’s “Oh Yeah!” multiple times a day.
The point is, you will make this noise constantly, like a child’s toy that has begun to malfunction but you cannot figure out how to remove the batteries without destroying it entirely.
[hums ESPN score update sound without realizing it]
4.) Throat clear, persistent
Sitting down on the floor after a child has asked you to play with them. Oh, man. It’s gonna be hard to get up from this. Better make it worthwhile, and get some good quality playtime in with them.
Getting up from the floor six and a half minutes later, after the child has enthusiastically gotten out and intermixed six different difficult-to-put-away sets of toys and then decided to go do something else in a different room without you.
1.) Deep exhale, lips and cheeks flapping slightly
A soul-deep sense of exhaustion being let out as you close a child’s bedroom door. It is thirty-five minutes after their scheduled bedtime, and you have just spent the last forty minutes explaining a difficult concept to them and reassuring them that they are safe and that they don’t need to worry; that’s what you’re here for.
There are still things to be done tonight, but you need a few minutes to regroup. You’re tired physically, but even more tired mentally. You sometimes feel like you’re falling apart, and you just don’t have the energy to change that. You’ve become a creaky, cracky, croaky old wooden ship that’s just trying to stay above water and keep them dry until they learn how to swim on their own.
It doesn’t matter, though.
You’ll check on them again in a few hours on your own way to bed, and they’ll be sleeping soundly and peacefully, and you’ll know it’s worth it.
You’ll try not to make any sound.
—Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)
Oh wait, I don’t want to leave out the other side of the story.
Mom Sounds, Ranked
1.) Decades of quiet resentment and praying for hearing loss