I feel like I am about to admit something shameful here: In our home, we shout.
It feels shameful because of a conceited little meme I once came across with a quote from David O. McKay saying that there should be no shouting unless there was a fire. I'm not saying you're conceited David, I'm sure you are a very nice man with a lot of very profound things to say, but that meme? It sucks.
It sucks because in a houseful made of exclamation marks and warp speed, shouting is something that happens on a daily basis.
And I'm fine with that ... now.
I've spent the last few years trying to work out how other parents managed to maintain houses oozing with monastic calm while mine more closely resembled a herd of gorilla at full chat.
I was caught up in the irony of a peaceful parenting movement telling me to respect my child while also damning them for not being peaceful enough.
And it took something simple for me to accept my family for the shouters we are.
It took a cushion fight.
Not just any cushion fight, this was the mother of all cushion fights, the zenith of feather filled ass whoopings. In years to come, this is the cushion fight to which all others will aspire.
I have to hoover every evening: It's not an OCD "have to" thing, it's a "we have a dog who sheds his own bodyweight" thing.
Part of my ritual is throwing the cushions off the sofa for the kids to jump on while I finish the room. I figure it saves me a job because it would take me forever to flump those cushions as well as the children do after several minutes of horsing around.
Last night was a little different.
Last night, when I threw the cushions off the sofa, they came back.
I started by absent mindedly returning them with one hand while hovering with the other, but the children were not getting the hint.
In fact, they started goading me.
What can I say, I'm a sucker for a challenge.
Keith and the baby looked on from the safety of the next room as cushions hurtled through the air in all directions. There were tactics, there was running and there was a LOT of noise. Like a ridiculous amount of noise, mainly coming from my children as they screamed orders at each other over the now abandoned and still running hoover.
Eventually, and inevitably, someone fell a bit hard and we had to call a temporary ceasefire.
Temporary because despite being red faced, sweaty, and nearly hoarse, neither of the children wanted to stop. They barely had breath in their bodies but what they had, they were determined to use in the pursuit of their very loud glory.
My face was aching from smiling, and I had lost the strength in my arms so of course Keith took the opportunity to get involved.
I was hit, I was going down with a fight, but the point at which he jumped off the sofa and clattered straight into the light finished me off.
I sank to the floor, tears streaming down my face and looked up to see all three children screaming gleefully as they finally got their woman.
It was a moment of wonderful, and very loud clarity.
So I'm sorry David, there was no fire, but we are a family of shouters, and I'm proud.