Yelling at your kids isn’t something any parent is proud of nor is it something any of us want to do. I am an occasional offender. I admit it and I have read the articles that suggest that kids respond better to calm words. I get it. But never was it more obvious to me than this past week when a spring cold took my voice way for several days. I had no idea how I was going to command my kid’s attention but the days that followed shocked me into believing all of those articles.
I whispered my situation to the kids to elicit some sympathy and hoped their compassion would lead to extra great behavior. My kids were intrigued by my silence and offered suggestions of sign language, hand gestures and writing. I smiled at their helpful ideas and waited for my first test. It didn’t take long. My daughter yelled for my help getting a toy from my son and both were in full tantrum mode. Had they already forgotten that I had no voice or do old habits die hard? I decided to let them yell for me in hopes they would remember my plight and work it out themselves or at the very least come to me to get help instead of screaming. They did! My son asked me why I didn’t come when he yelled for me and I just smiled. “Oh, yeah, I forgot you have no voice. Sorry Mom.”
Later I asked my son to clean up the family room. When the whining started I counted to three with my fingers instead of my voice. Shockingly, with my fingers I only had to hold up one finger before I got the response I wanted but with my voice I always got to two and sometimes even three. Hmm, maybe I should lose my voice more often. But it was at bath time on night two that my kids really responded to my silence. Bath time isn’t as hellish as some I’ve heard about but it can still be a trying time. My kids want to stay in the tub all night, don’t want to be the first out and argue over bath toys. With some creative hand gestures (no, not that one!) I was able to tell them they could play in the bath for three minutes, that my daughter would be the first one out and simply took any toy they fought over out of the tub. That was that. I sat back and realized that I actually had a few minutes to do something for myself.
I woke up the next morning, voice still MIA and realized that my daughter’s soccer game was going to be the ultimate challenge for me. I loved to cheer her on, offer advice and chat with the other Moms. This weekend would be much different and maybe to others delight. Today’s game she played against a much bigger and stronger team. She looked defeated before the game even started and I felt helpless. My words are my strength and without them I felt like less of a Mom. I scooped her up before the game started and held her tight, looked her right in the eyes, put my hand on her heart and mouthed, “You can do this, you can do this, you can do this!” And guess what, she did! She scored two goals and had a blast.
What I found out in the last few days is that I am more powerful than I ever imagined with no voice at all. Just like when my daughter was a toddler and realized I could nurse and walk around at the same time to see what she was up to, my kids learned that just because I didn’t have a voice didn’t mean I couldn’t get my point across. Now that my voice is coming back I hope to keep it quiet and take my new powers “to infinity and beyond!”