The ever-popular idiom “silence is golden” has become so engrained culturally that we inherently believe that silence is a sought after and desirable quality. As an adult, silence in solitude is a wonderful thing. However, silence is tricky because so often it can allude to something else. That something is almost always sinister and negative. The popular colloquialism is especially skewed by the presence of children. Much like other adult normalcies, kids ruin silence. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, since kids basically ruin everything. It is what they are best known for.
Silence is highly suspicious and potentially disastrous when a toddler is involved. Toddlers spend much of their little lives in some form of motion accompanied by incoherent chattering. There is nary a noise-free moment to be had in the presence of a toddler. When those moments eventually come, the silence is at best skeptical and nowhere near golden. If your toddler is quiet for more than 7 consecutive seconds, odds are he or she has discovered how to perpetrate some devious act that requires their complete focus. Silence from a toddler only exists insofar as it contributes to the concentration needed immediately prior to destroying a family heirloom or ingesting something illicit. The comfortable silence threshold for the parent of a toddler is exactly 6 seconds. Once that 7th second of silence hits, you better find that little creature fast.
Another noise-related colloquialism that champions silence is the expression “to reduce someone to silence.” This phrase usually indicates that the person enjoying the silence has done or said something so rebuking or thought-provoking that the other individual is literally speechless. In these instances, the rebuttal is so sharp or decisive that the individual can relish the noiselessness, knowing that their act or comment, “reduced the other person to silence.” When dealing with a toddler, however, the only one being routinely left speechless is the parent. There is no rebuking a baby. None. A toddler lives their life in a constant state of speechlessness and replaces any potential awe-inspired silence with a chorus of shrieks or squeals. Reducing a small child to silence is like hunting a Griffin with a laser gun…none of it exists.
One of the more judicial colloquialisms of silence is the expression, “your silence implies your guilt.” This phrase can be used in the adult world when someone refuses to answer an accusatory question or pleads the 5th. It doesn’t work at the toddler level simply because toddlers are always guilty and never silent. Despite the fact that toddlers never shut up, it is safe to assume that they are always guilty. A toddler will never refute their guilt with a well-crafted alibi. Similarly, they will never remain silent…ever. As the parent, you’ll never find yourself saying, “your silence implies your guilt” to a toddler because the fact that they’re a toddler is enough to prove their guilt 100% of the time, usually in the noisiest fashion imaginable.
Idioms like these may be partially true at times in the adult world, but as usual with kids, the rules simply don’t apply. If you’re a parent, the word “silence” has been vanquished from your lexicon. Silence is neither golden nor reduced nor implicit of anything. It’s just gone. Forever.