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The Art of the Tune Out

I realized last week that I have a very high tolerance for noise. I can tune it out as if I am lounging on a beach with a cool drink and the warm sun. I am the master of oblivious when I want to be.

You see, my sister and her two boys -- ages 10 and 5 -- came to visit for Spring Break. Add those boys to my three kids and you have a five-pronged catalyst of chaos. I will admit as the kids have become older, it has become easier to handle all five of them together but it has not necessarily become quieter. In fact, with kids ranging in age from 15 down to 5, I do believe it has become louder. Or so I am told.

The 5-year-old refuses to get lost in the shuffle and therefore must shout his every thought. (And I do mean every single thought.) The 8-year-old and 10-year-old get so caught up in playing Wii they tend to jump and shout and laugh at noise levels that must register on some sound-o-dometer somewhere. The teenagers? Well, they are usually loud when everyone else gets loud and they are screaming for quiet when they cannot hear the movie they are watching and therefore turn it up to ear bleeding levels. Yes, with five kids in the house that are not used to being together all the time, it becomes a bit rowdy.

Somehow, though, my sister and I have learned how to completely tune it out. There we sat on the couch with our magazines in our laps casually reading the latest gossip or “How to Manage Your Unmanageable Life” articles and were completely oblivious to the chaos surrounding us. At one point she looked up at me and mentioned in an offhanded way, “Your house is loud.” To which I replied, “Did you hear that Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer broke up again?”

My husband has not perfected this art of the Tune Out. He came home from work each day and for some reason within 30 minutes had developed a twitch in his right eye.

“Honey, your right eye is twitching. Is everything okay?”

He would look at me as if I had grown a second head and reply, “Do you really not hear the noise? Just listen.”

And then I did.

Personally, I think it was rude of him to grab me from the depths of my peaceful ignorance and thrust me into the loud cacophony of noises bouncing off the walls of our home. It really was loud.

I looked at him in exasperation that he dared to point out the noise level. He looked at me in bewildered shock that I had not heard it.

I think many moms are just born with a special gene that enables them to tune out the chaos at times. It is much like the gene that enables them to feed, burp and change a baby in the middle of the night and go right back to sleep.

My husband lacks these genes.

Medical research really needs to work on this. It would make his life (and mine) much quieter.

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