Can Children Smell Fear?

Written by Emily

I had forgotten about this stage in a child’s development. The screaming stage. It’s the stage right before a child hits a milestone like stringing several words together or walking. It’s also just before the parents lose their minds and mom is caught hiding in the bathroom for the fourth time in one day, running water to literally drown out the Pterodactyl-like calls.

I don’t remember reading about this stage in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the first year edition or any of the other books I read in preparation for my little cherubs. It’s all very hush hush, really. Or perhaps I just glossed over it, trying to perpetuate the illusion that raising children is peaceful and dreamy, clinging to the idea with the same fervor I do the one that promises dinnertime and bedtime are lovely bonding moments or that each stage of a child’s development happens at just the right time in a miraculous blend of physical, mental and emotional readiness. You know, like a Fisher-Price commercial.

“This is your third child, Emily, snap out of it!”

Well, I have snapped out of it. Today, while I tried to shovel my mother’s pot roast into my mouth at record speed while Sylvie screamed, I snapped out of it. A montage of screams past echoed in my ears much like the soundtrack to a horror film–Noah before he could crawl and walk, Chloe for at least six months straight.

I turned to see Sylvie’s open mouth, and as I stared at her vibrating uvula, I wondered how it was that I came to be back at this place–this screaming place. I wondered where my easy-going baby had gone, and I wondered if she would ever be back. And as my baby girl writhed in my arms, her mouth agape, I wondered if life would ever be the same. Would I ever have a peaceful meal again? Would I ever sit in silence? What is silence?

Today, Sylvie was not content to crawl around the floor. She would not be entertained by toys of any kind. She wanted to walk. She desperately wanted her little fingers wrapped around mine, and she wanted to move . . . fast, much faster than her little legs are capable, so she did what we all want to do in frustration: she screamed.

Still hungry and being pulled around the house by my screeching babe, I thought: I am not at all in control of this situation. And if I’m not mistaken, Noah and Chloe noticed that today. Can children smell fear? Because I am certain there was a glint in their eyes that suggested mutiny is just around the corner. And now that there are three of them, I would not put it past them to execute a successful hostage situation. They know no one would hear my screaming over Sylvie’s, so it just might work.

4 comments for “Can Children Smell Fear?

  1. November 12, 2012 at 10:33 am

    A successful hostage situation!! Bahahaha!

  2. November 12, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Wait a minute…I’m stwill twying to -OW!- pull the last ov da duct tape off my mouff from the pre-teen hostage situation/mutiny executed on us recently!!… Be strong. Help is on the way!

  3. Catherine Pasierb
    November 13, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Too soon you will be lamenting,”Where are the kids? It’s too quiet in here.”

  4. February 12, 2014 at 11:56 am

    They can indeed smell fear. And they always seem to be scheming… Might I suggest handheld food for a few months?

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