The Purpose of a Shriek

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Long ago and far away, when I was what they now refer to as a “tween”, I used to love snuggling up on the couch with a bag of potato chips and my big-sister to watch the latest horror-movie. We’d watch in anticipation as the movie built up to that terror-filled point when the heroine  first encounters the requisite maniac of the movie and lets rip that shoulder-raising, eye squinting shriek.

Turns out all that build up is completely unnecessary, as demonstrated so artfully by my favourite toddler.  In my toddler’s world, a shriek is a perfectly appropriate way to make her family members (whether they are in the same room as her or elsewhere in the house) aware that she is “concerned” about something.  Sometimes it is because her brother is now playing with a toy that she had played with hours ago but is still claiming rights to, other times it is because she sees everyone else around her doing something interesting and in the absence of a fully developed skill set of her own, she contributes her well-honed ear-piercing shriek of joy (causing everyone in the room to stop what they are doing and look her. Mission accomplished).

Other times are more warranted, for example, she often uses her “stop-folding-the-laundry-and-get-me-out-of-this-freakin’-high-chair!” shriek (although I can think of less migraine-inducing alternatives to this request). One can hardly blame her for the “I-was-playing-contently-and-my-big-sister-has-chosen-to-antagonize-me” shriek (often accentuated by two clenched fists and a shudder of anger), or for her “Daddy’s-coming-home-from-work-and-I-want-to be-the first-one-he hugs” shriek.  This one is almost always quickly followed my Mom’s conveyance to Daddy that she must “tag out” for a period of time to reverse the shriek-induced headache she’s been nursing all day, and say a small prayer that this toddler phase passes quickly.


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