You probably want me to finish that with “ice cream” but that is not the subject of this post. Although, a cup of ice cream sounds good about now. Recently I feel like there is never any peace and quiet. When I’m sitting at my desk at work, I hear the sounds of kids exploring the exhibit hall. It is usually the excited buzz of seeing something new or watching an animal move that has been sitting in the same place for hours. Then it happens, the shrill, high pitch wail. The scream. What has broken up the joyous sounds from before? Most likely, a parent telling the child it is time to go home. I sometimes pass these sad faces as they are leaving, tears running down their red cheeks. Despite the interruption to my serene environment, I smile a little thinking that someone is enjoying our center so much that they don’t want to leave.
I went camping a week ago and at 7 a.m., I hear the shouts of a group of Boy Scouts that moved into the campground after dark. At first, I can’t understand why they are up that early. My second thought is why are they yelling? Then they begin beating a pan. If I had not been so comfy, I would have marched over to the beat of the drumming and done some yelling of my own. Later in the day, my friend and I went for a hike. Being a beautiful April day in the mountains of north Georgia, we expected the trails to be busy. As we stopped to enjoy a few scenic views along the way, what do we hear? The yells and screams of the Boy Scouts. We kept hiking to try to escape the verbal barrage that seemed to surround us. As I hiked, I thought to myself about why they were so loud. For one thing, they were pre-teen boys and I am sure that most of you that have worked with this age, know that they get louder as they get excited. It occurred to me that they probably don’t have the opportunity to be loud when at home or school. I see AND hear the same thing when I lead a group of school children on a trail hike. During the spring, they are required to stay quiet for hours while others are suffering through the standardized tests that happen every April. When the kids get outside, they don’t have the confines of a room or a group of testing students down the hall. They probably don’t even realize they are being that loud. Although I may not have appreciated the interruption to my sleep and hike from the Boy Scouts, I understood why they needed to let out that noise.
The last category of screams and yells is from those that are afraid. I accidentally grabbed a wasp on a door handle and, even though it didn’t sting, I let out a shriek. The surprise of touching something that I didn’t notice followed by the thought of getting stung on the fingers was enough to elicit a scream. Wasps don’t bother me normally but the unexpected close encounter did. A teacher hiking with me had a similar reaction when we unexpectedly found a snake slithering through the bushes next to the trail. She let out a little expletive and ran ahead. The kids were distracted enough that they didn’t notice. When we arrived back to the building, two lizards were sitting on the sidewalk. At that point, she had enough and yelled out “OH NO! This field trip is NOT for me! You have turtles, snakes and GEICOS here!” I couldn’t help but laugh a little, mainly because of calling the lizards “Geicos.” After she was safely inside, I made sure she was ok and to warn her that there were snakes in the exhibit area so she wasn’t surprised again. It was my reminder of how important it is to have places, like nature centers, for people to have close encounters with things that may be frightening to them but in a safe environment. Be aware that they may not sit quietly!
Since everyone else is doing it, why not you? Letting out a little yell, scream, shout, squeal, or squawk. It may be what is needed for the situation.