Turning the Volume Up: A Parenting Strategy

As Garth Algar pointed out, parents hate any music played at the appropriate level. Perhaps it is generational, but to me certain music just sounds better loud. It is a scientific fact (probably) that you can’t play Welcome to the Jungle loud enough. There are certain songs that as soon as they come on the radio, you instinctively reach for the volume to turn it up. Usually, this is just out of pure enjoyment, but I discovered an alternate use for turning it up to eleven – drowning out your crying kid in the backseat.

This strategy previously used to ignore annoying sounds the car is making that you don’t actually know how to fix, is also very useful for ignoring annoying sounds your child is making that you don’t actually know how to fix. Though more accurately, you do know how to fix them, but your child has no interest in arriving at a practical solution. They’ve decided to go all in on their tantrum and there is no turning back. They are pot committed on being a little asshole. Little do they know, I’ve got a chip and a chair (and a volume knob) and they don’t scare me.

To give you some background, I picked up my daughter from Kindergarten and we stopped home for a little bit before going to pick up my younger two kids from day care. While we were home, she asked for snack. I said no, wait until we get your brother and sister and then we can all have a snack together. She took this suggestion as a grievous insult on a very personal level. She kept asking, I kept saying no. The meltdown was underway. A Larabar was the hill she had chosen to die on. She whined and cried getting shoes on, jacket on, and getting out the door. By the time we got into my truck, whines were turning grunts. Fun fact: when my daughter gets really mad she grunts like some kind of wild boar trying to establish dominance at the water hole. I enjoy my time in my truck, and I enjoy my music. Rather than let her ruin that, I decided to use it to my advantage.

Much like Gandhi, I decided to meet this aggression with a mellowness that will still resonate and deliver a message. I put on the Rolling Stones and turned it up. Tumbling Dice poured out of the speakers, and screams poured out of her face. I turn it up more. She screamed more. Volume up again. At this point, she wasn’t screaming about her snack anymore, she was screaming at me to turn the music down. I left the volume at an appropriate level and completely ignored the screams from the back seat, though the more desperate she got, the more entertaining it was. As her frustration with my passive aggressive audio assault grew, her anger grew to the point of threatening to rip off her ears. I was almost entirely certain she wouldn’t actually do that, so the volume stayed where it was all the way to the day care.

By the time we were driving back home, she was calm, and I think pretty embarrassed. Keith Richards triumphs again. While I would certainly love it if my kids would just behave in the car, part of me can’t wait until somebody in the backseat starts to whine, pout, or cry. I can teach them a lesson on behavior and good music all at the same time. Perhaps I’ll employ this strategy elsewhere. Between my phone and an Alexa, Led Zeppelin loud enough to turn my kids’ into white noise is never out of reach. What a time to be alive. I pity those poor parents of generations before me who were only armed with Glenn Miller and a Victrola. Of course, those parents would have just hit their kids until they got quiet. Look at me, promoting non-violence in parenting. I really am just like Gandhi.

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