The scream

Edvard Munch's painting: The Scream There we are, a happy if weary traveling family, having lunch at a rest stop in Delaware, when C decides something isn't quite right. And so, in an instant, he emits the loudest, most ear-piercing scream imaginable. I mean, it's truly deafening. If you're within a few feet, your ears will ring for a while afterward.

It doesn't last long, this scream, but it's enough to scare the bejeezus out of everyone within one hundred feet — us included.

And now all eyes are on us, some frightened, some glaring angrily, and a few settling into knowing sympathy (or something approaching sympathy). Anyway, this is a relatively new tic C's developed. It happens most often when he's taken out of his routine and put into an unfamiliar, somewhat chaotic on a family road trip, at a rest stop in Delaware!

The first few times he screamed like this, I felt my face grow hot and red with embarrassment. Being totally honest, I wanted to stifle it, to cover his mouth with my hand. But, as I noted, it was over almost as soon as it started — one quick, piercing cry.

I can't say I'm getting used to it, but as with any of his past tics, we know that drawing attention to it will only reinforce the behavior. Yes, that includes negative attention. So we redirect as quickly as possible, get him moving onto the next thing and out of the moment. At the same time, I do my best to shut out any feelings of embarrassment, to ignore the stares and glares. They don't know or understand, and while I'm sympathetic to their ears, my focus is where it should be: on my son.

So if you're out — say in a rest stop in Delaware — and a kid screams at the top of his lungs for no apparent reason, take a deep breath, be sympathetic, and be glad it's not you.