Written by Kathleen, #7
As you might expect in a large family, our house is loud. Quite loud. From the beeping of a timer because Aidan had to know how fast he could crab-walk across the kitchen floor, to Declan and Keira competing to see who can say ‘toy boat’ the most times without stumbling (it’s borderline impossible to go above four, I might add), there’s always noise in our nut house.
However, there are some specific sounds that bring back memories. Some phrases that take us way down Memory Lane, some noises that are instantly recognizable to anyone born and raised in the Thomas clan. Here are five sounds I could identify as part of my childhood’s ever-present din.
The magic word that heralded that night’s tacos, chicken noodle soup, meatloaf, or whatever else Mom had ‘conjured up’ that evening. At the sound of “Su-u-upper!”, our pupils would almost dilate in excitement at the thought of sitting down again and enjoying a feast together. Almost as magical was the sound immediately after the supper call: a stampede of feet, both little and large, springing up from their books and board games all over the house (and the backyard) to come running to the kitchen table.
- Loud Car Noises
As mentioned in an earlier post, our family’s main mode of transportation was a fifteen-passenger van. The silver chariot was loud enough that most of us could hear it from inside our house while it was still a house or two away. What followed was a sprint to the nearest window and a shouted confirmation. As we rushed down the stairs, if we listened hard, we could hear the van rumbling over the cracks and bumps in the driveway, settling into the deep ruts it had made over the years.
- The Snap
I have to say, Mom and Dad perfected it. There are few noises more piercing, more capable of cutting through too-rowdy play, than a well-done snap. Usually, one of them was on the phone, the rest of us easily forgetting that they needed quiet in order to talk to a boss or Grandma. I’d start wrestling with Aidan, or Declan would start rummaging around in his Lego bin (give me a sound more obnoxious than spilling Legos, I ask you), and we’d carry on our normal horseplay until Mom would whip her head toward us and snap her fingers.
- The Movie/Book Quote Barrage
As a family, one of our favorite activities is a weekend movie night. It’s often either a rom-com or a recent Disney, depending on the audience that night. As such, we siblings usually have a stock of movie lines on hand for every funny situation. Coming across a younger sister struggling with a fraction problem, someone was bound to say, “Well, if you think about it looogically,” in their best Professor Kirke voice. When a kid found out he’d been accidentally left out of the family scheduling pow-wow, one would often hear, “Well, nobody tells me about nothing no more!” in an exaggerated Greek accent.
Very few of us mastered the Alan Rickman drawl, but we certainly did our best. Mom and Dad would often just look on incredulously as we fired off movie lines in Southern twangs, ‘Kronk voices’, and painful cockneys. I could never quite tell if they found it more amusing or generally disappointing that we could rattle off every Jack Sparrow quote ever written and feel quite proud of ourselves by the end of it.
- Dad’s ‘Aslan Voice’
Anyone who knows our family well knows that reading The Chronicles of Narnia is a rite of passage. Dad reads each book to us, starting when we’re around eight. We don’t read ahead, and the younger ones, in a rare moment of exclusion, aren’t allowed to listen while he reads. It was a special fifteen minutes each night between Dad and the older kids (somehow, there were always two or three siblings, already well-versed in Narnia, standing behind the couch during the battle with Maugrim or the flight across the mountains of Archenland).
Of course, Dad had voices for each character. His tittering and simpering for the young noblewoman Lazaraleen went far higher than I would have expected him capable of. Puddleglum, the gloomy Marshwiggle, had exactly the correct balance of comical pessimism. However, Dad reserved his best voice for Aslan: my personal favorite character, utterly terrifying and lovable at the same time. As soon as the Great Lion began speaking, Dad’s voice would drop low and rich with undertones of laughing or growling, depending on the scene. It was completely magical.
With two parents working and so many kids moved out, there are fewer family dinners now; we’ve downsized from a fifteen-passenger to a seven-passenger; we’re all (usually) old and mature enough to know when to be quiet during phone calls; the great movie-quoting wars are saved for when the older siblings are home; we’ve completed our personal Narnian adventures with Dad (though we all love to return to the great stories once in a while). However, these sounds were the mortar of my childhood memories, and each one still rings in my head as clear as ever.