The Emergency Yell!

405 days of loving more!

A few weeks ago during dinner time the doorbell rang. I had of course just settled everyone down to eat, I mean complain over what I served, and the last thing I needed was an interruption. I tried to ignore the ring but it was followed by a knock. Clearly it was important. I told the boys to stay put and eat dinner and that I would be right back.

I headed to the door and saw a gentleman standing outside with a “Cell Phone Company not to be named” badge. Okay I figured, pushing my fears of strangers aside, he’s legit. Maybe he is here to tell me they are finally fixing the signal in the neighborhood; now that would be awesome! I slowly opened the door, once again telling my boys to stay put and to come nowhere near the door. (I have a thing about strangers seeing that I have four young boys in my house.)

“Hi Ma’am, I work for “Cell Phone Company” and we are in the area trying to figure out why the signal is so poor.”

(Score! This was going to be good. Maybe I could finally send text messages without problems!  Turns out, I got unnecessarily excited.)

“We have a scanner that shows that there is a signal interrupting our “Cell Phone Company” service. It is coming from your house. Have you installed anything recently?”

At that point I was weirded out. A scanner? He was scanning my neighborhood while driving a car with not one sign that read “Cell Phone Company”? Was this really legit? I hemmed and hawed before answering him, debating how much information to share. Something was just NOT feeling right.

“Well, no not really. We have a booster to help get a better signal but we have had that for ages. There was a power outage recently though and that could have effected everything.” I said calmly through the small crack of the opened door. There was no way I was opening the door any wider.

“Hmmm. Well, do you mind going up to your attic to take the booster down? If you turn it off we can tell if it is the problem. I can then walk around your property and see if the signal gets better.”

Right. It’s almost dark out and you want me to go in the attic, leave my 4 kids alone and unplug the booster while you walk around my property? AS IF.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Do you have a business card?”

“Actually, I am out. I gave my last one to the customer a few blocks away.”

Make that a double AS IF I was going to do anything to help him solve a problem. Just then two of my boys scampered towards me to see what was taking so long and #4 started screaming, no doubt saying “get me out of this high chair now before I throw dinner everywhere!”

“You know,” I said, “I can’t take the booster down now. It’s dinnertime and I need to go. You can stand in front of my house and scan and then return with a business card and a properly marked vehicle and I will determine if I want you walking around my house.”

“I understand.”

I shut the door and ordered the boys back to dinner. They weren’t listening. Then I saw this man who I deemed had questionable requests and questionable identification start walking towards my side gate. What the ????

“Boys. Sit down at the kitchen table now please.” I said calmly. They didn’t budge; this seemed to interesting to them.

“Mommy who is that? I don’t want to eat. Can we see what he’s doing?” They badgered me with questions and I tried to stay calm so they didn’t freak out. Honestly though, I felt anything but calm. I quickly called my husband but he didn’t answer his phone. Crap. What was I supposed to do?

I looked and the boys were headed towards the back door to watch the man. To me, again, legitimate or not, this was an emergency. This was a stranger that I did not trust.


Well, since they haven’t heard me yell in ages, they hauled a*s to the table. And they sat there obediently. My quiet and calmer (although lets be real, not entirely calm) voice returned.

Now that I had their attention I was able to say what I needed to. “Guys, I don’t know him. I need you to stay close to me and to listen to everything I say, okay? Remember, strangers are danger until mommy or daddy says its okay. I am sure it will be fine but right now, hang out with me and ignore him, okay?”

And well they did. And then the door creaked open and I peed my pants in fear. Oh yes, yes I did (how is that for honesty?)! Daddy then walked in earlier than expected, like say 2 hours early, and said,

“Hi guys, who is the man in the driveway?”

Seriously? I told him the situation and he took care of it while I started cleaning up food that had been flung to every corner of the kitchen in my absence. I then settled the boys into their night time TV show and spoke with my hubby.

“Oh babe. I was scared. It was so sketchy! And then I yelled at the boys because they wouldn’t stay away and I feel bad but I felt it was an Emergency.”

“No, it was. You were right to do that. It was sketchy and they needed to know strangers can be danger.”

“I know but still I hate yelling.”

“Sweetheart, in emergencies, when you yell TO your kids but not AT them, it’s all good.”

Not only was I thrilled my hubby was home early that night to make me feel safe, but I was also thrilled he said that. I needed the re-assurance that I handled the situation right. And what he said is exactly what I have felt from the start. In my eyes, there is a huge difference between yelling to my kids in an emergency and yelling at them.

Yelling at someone is mean; it’s outright hurtful, even in emergencies. In this case it would have been “BOYS! Don’t you ever listen?! What’s wrong with you? I said get over here now!”

Yelling to someone in emergency is simply loud; it’s an intentionally louder voice in the direction of someone who needs to hear the message.

And well, the night of the Verizon stranger, I yelled to my kiddos and it worked. And not only did it work but it reinforced to me why I am so glad I stopped yelling. Because that night, when I yelled not only did they listen, but they really heard me explain what I had to about strangers. Before when I yelled, they didn’t really hear me, they didn’t listen and they didn’t get the message. Why? Because my yelling was so expected; I did it with such frequency that they tuned me out. Mommy’s yelling again? “Did she say anything? All we hear is blah, blah, blah, blah!”

The night of the Verizon man I needed to be heard and definitely not tuned out, just like I would need to be in an emergency situation. Whether it be “EMERGECNY! STOP! CAR!” or “EMERGECNY. QUICK. #4’s HAVING A SEIZURE. GET MOMMY THE PHONE!” there will be times when I need to really raise my voice to be heard. And I am okay with that so long as it is only in emergencies…because if I do it too often, it will lose its most necessary power at the most important moments.


As to whether or not the man was legit, time will tell. He gave my husband an email address. My husband emailed him but never heard back. He has yet to return to the house so I am taking that as an okay sign that we are good. Phew. 

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25 thoughts on “The Emergency Yell!

  1. How scary. I have definitely called the police when there has been a sketchy person around, the police are happy to come by, though it may feel odd to call! I also definitely think there is a big difference between yelling TO and AT. Recently, a well placed TO saved my son from falling backwards down the stairs. eek!

  2. Call your local police department and ask what requirements are for someone to approach your door. In our town, people must have clear ID (not just a card) visible (usually hanging in plastic around their neck), and must work in pairs. I have called the non emergency number about people going door to door, and was told to call 911 because that is dispatch. If you are scared, first of all, don’t open the door! Call the police. Or you can tell the person, through the door, that his company needs to call and make an appointment because you are not aware of the type of work going on in the neighborhood, (because my paranoid self worries that if I don’t let said person know I’m in the house, he may break in, assuming no one is home.) I’m sure response is different in big cities, but in the Chicago suburbs, the police encourage residents to call if they suspect anything wrong. They don’t come with sirens blaring, but they will come patrol the neighborhood and talk to the person if they find them. I’ve learned to not be afraid to call the police. If you don’t want to for yourself, think of preventing the person from approaching your neighbors, who may not be as cautious as you. Good for you for going with your instincts and yelling TO your kids, not AT them!

  3. Oh my goodness, that’s scary!! I would have called the police! I am totally freaked out by strangers. If someone knocks on my door when hubby’s not home, I don’t answer it unless I know the person, or it’s the UPS guy.

  4. I too found your blog from Pintrest. Love it! I am not an every day yeller but I am a more often than I want yeller. Can’t wait to read more. And for future reference, they do not scan signals like that and approach houses. (My husband works for said company on the cellular systems side and they all work from home or the office).

  5. I just found your site through a pintrest pin. I am so glad I did. I grew up with a yeller for a mom, and apparently I learned well. I homeschool my 8 yr old son. We are very much alike. We are both very intense and have a tendency to get distracted easily.

    I am going to set a goal of one week without yelling. I am going to tell my husband and son, as well as a few friends for accountability. I’m excited, but a little scared too, since I tend to be pretty hard on myself.

    I really like how you differentiate between yelling TO and AT the child (or husband for that matter). It has concerned me before that he wouldn’t hear me if I yelled when it was an emergency.

    I look forward to coming back to your site often for encouragement and suggestions. Thanks.

  6. I just came across your blog and I love it! I’m not a parent (yet!) but I am a teacher, and I think all of these concepts are brilliant for the classroom as well. Your story reminded me of an incident when a picture (with a glass cover in it – in 2nd grade, what was I thinking?!) fell off the wall and shattered. I ORDERED all the kids to the classroom library, and I’ve never seen them haul so fast! But it made it safe for me to clean up and I was proud that they took even such a small emergency so seriously, especially in the face of some scary things that can happen at schools. I think they know the situation is different when they hear the “emergency” voice.

  7. I have a story about emergency yelling in public and getting strange looks but knowing it was what kept a child safe. I am a friend attended the same college class, that day my friend had brought her 4 year old with her to class. At the end of class the child had left the room and started toward the door but his mother remained in the room asking the teacher a question and had not seen him leave the room. I happened to be positioned so that I could see him pushing on the door to leave the building (door opened to a fairly busy street) and that his mother could not see him and that no one closer to the child realized his mother was not with him. i could not reach the child physical before he would have left the building with out an adult. I yelled “(Child name) STOP.” Stopping all conversation of all college kids and the child between me the door and getting the child to look back at me. Then in a normal voice asked him “Do you realized your mom is not with you?” He came back and at my voice yelling stop mom came out of the room and directed him back. He honestly had gone into auto pilot and was headed home. Several other college students told me they did not think it was my right to yell “Stop” at a child not my own but after talking with the mother and dealing with my conscious, I came to the conclusion that if yelling a direction “to” a child prevents them from entering a dangerous situation that the parent is not aware of then it is my responsibility as human to protect the child from immediate danger and deal with the consequences later. This was something that I struggled with for awhile because some of the college kids were really upset that I had said something. The yelling in anger is the problem not yelling in and of itself.

  8. That must have been so scary for you. I am so glad the kids listened. One more reason for going no yelling! I can not imagine that the guy was legitimate. Miracle your hubby showed up.

  9. I’m going to give it a shot. Not only at home with my 11, 6 and 3 year old’s but in my room full of 30 4/5 year old’s at work!

  10. I just found your blog today (yay for links from Facebook friends!) and I’ve been reading through it for the past long while. You’re so inspirational, but I love reading through and seeing how human an imperfect you are too–like the rest of us! 🙂 I’m not a mother yet (our first is due at the beginning of June… EEP), but that doesn’t mean I can’t work on being more positive and yell-free with my husband and in general.

    So, I just wanted to say thank you so much for keeping up this blog and showing others that yes it’s possible to change for the better. 😀

  11. Love how you have distinguished between yelling TO rather than AT. There is a difference. One is frustration and anger. The other love and protection.

  12. I think y’all handled it wonderfully. I love your distinction about yelling to vs yelling at.

    Do call the police non-emergency number in your area & give them the heads up about sketchy guy. They might have more information and/or need to be on the lookout for him. Please also do alert your neighbors, share with them what guy said etc. More eyes are always better.

  13. I’m really wary of strangers at the door, especially when my son races to get the door before me. I definitely don’t like that, but he just gets so excited he forgets everything I’ve told him about answering the door without my permission. :[ eeep!

    Glad you’re safe.

    • The way I trained my son to stop getting so excited is anytime I would walk outside I would knock on the door. If he would answer even if he knew it was me we would have the stranger danger talk. It helped.

  14. You are not the only one who feels this way about strangers who come to the door. With all my husband’s deployments and raising nine kiddos, I learned real quick to be cautious. I will flat out not answer the door if I don’t feel comfortable, even if they continue to knock…there is no law that I have to answer the door to my own home (military housing is completely different).

    • I need to stop answering the door when uncomfortable…there simply is no need (military housing aside. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. Just found your blog tonight. This post really hit home. My 3 yr old disappeared on me this afternoon. He let himself out the sliding glass door and decided to head to the neighbors ( who are across the street and we have a house being built next door). It was 5 minutes if Hell for me. He didn’t respond when I yelled for him probably because he is use to mom yelling and didn’t want to be in trouble. I need to be so much better. Thank you for the inspiration.

  16. Wow that is scary. I know that it brings reality to me, becasue my husband works at night and I am always at home ith the boys by myself and I find that I am always questioning the noises that I hear.


    Tonight I wanted to yell at the four year because he was giving me a hard time about everything and I mean everything, but I started singing out loud. He thought it was the funniest thing and my night become smoother after that.

    • Yeah for a smoother night 🙂 not so yeah for questioning noises that you hear. I am right there with you!

    • LOL. I just updated it for you! We don’t know! He gave hubby a legit email address but my husband emailed him and never heard back!

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