Imagine spending an entire day taking care of a 2 year old toddler, who's into everything, and a 10 month old bulldozer baby boy, both with colds which make them more irritable than usual, while you're sick yourself with the worst cold you've had in years. Then imagine doing it with NO voice. I mean NO VOICE WHATSOEVER. The coughing fits that kept me up several nights ago have also had an unforseen side effect. They have left my larynx so sore and swollen that yesterday I woke up and could speak no more audibly than a whisper. Today was a little better until about 5 pm when I lost it again. Nevertheless, try commanding the attention of your excitable and enthusiastically curious 2 year old, who is in the family room plotting to lock her 10 month old brother in the adjacent powder room, while you've been fixing breakfast for everyone in the kitchen. A little side note here, the door knob covers that we purchased to keep her diabolical hands from executing her devious plans to entrap her brother are about as effective as the "baby gate" that she figured out how to open and close in 2 days. But I digress. Needless to say, that particular episode elicited a lot of sharp clapping on my part to get her attention. She responded by exclaiming, "Yeah mommy! Clap, clap, clap!" while trotting around in triumph. That was effective.
Anyway, I have been literally speechless off and on for the past two days. And upon waking yesterday with nothing but a breathy whisper to my voice, I was terrified at the thought of having to face Emma for the day, sure that she would take advantage of the situation and run all over me and my imposed silence. But the kid NEVER ceases to surprise me. When she creeped into my room in the morning asking for her usual milk and vitamins, I pulled her into bed and whispered that mommy wasn't feeling well and that I couldn't talk today. I told her that I needed her to listen to mommy especially well today, and that she had to try and be patient with me (not that she has any idea what patience is, but one can hope). And you know, the kid LISTENED! She was basically a DREAM child for the rest of the day. She even sympathetically whispered with me at times (either that, or more likely, she just liked the game that it grew into). But my point here is that she surprised the hell out of me. This is a child that I regularly have to yell out her name in a loud voice to get her attention over whatever gibberish song or thought she's currently spouting at the top of her lungs. Yesterday and today...not so. I guess because she was listening extra attentively for the whispered call of mommy, she was on point all day. I swear, I could've whispered from 4 rooms away, and I think she would've gleefully come trotting in saying, "Yes mommy?" So, I have this new theory.
I yell to get her attention too much. I'm too loud with her and Nicky. And I don't mean that I yell at them for doing something that they shouldn't, although admittedly I do yell at them every so often despite my best efforts to control my temper (hey, I'm working on it - lately that's included self-imposed time-outs to prevent the yelling from happening at all). But rather, when we are happily going through our day, and the two of them are making a ruckous in the play room that resounds like a jack hammer in my head, I am prone to raising my voice when calling for their attention, in an attempt to be heard over the din of bongos, musical books, singing dump trucks, and talking Elmos. My experience with enforced silence however tells me otherwise. I don't need to raise my voice over their toys and toddler noises. They apparently are just as tuned into me as I to them. And sometimes the most commanding thing to be said need only be as loud as a whisper. So, I'm vowing to quiet down. Their world is already so full of noises and stimulation and action, etc. The last thing they need is more noise coming from someone with whom they should be able to find a quiet, comfortable, peaceful place to rest their weary heads.
Here are some photos of our days learning to appreciate the sound of silence....
Shhhh. and enjoy.
Emma "lounging" (if that's what you would call it) as she watches a few mintues of her favorite DVD, "Annie." (This is particularly unusual since she's usually in the middle of the family room singing along and dancing around for the duration of the movie.)
The kiddos dining together at their playroom table and chairs. This was Nicky's first time eating at the table without the assist of his usual strapped down booster seat.
We'll just caption this with, "Hey ma! I can yell and you can't! Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah!" Actually, Nicky is usually a pretty loud baby (much louder than Emma was). And I can't help but wonder if he's a product of his environment since my own volume has increased during the course of his 10 months in direct proportion to Emma's increasing age.
Finally, this is what I got after asking Emma to, "smile for the camera and say, 'Cheese.'"