Friday, September 29, 2006
I took a vow of silence last week. Actually, it was more like a vow of low volume. It wasn't something I was planning to do. I was planning to carry on, as usual. I felt perfectly fine about my speech patterns until I heard this anger management specialist on one of the morning talk shows. He was discussing the harmful effects of yelling. According to him, it harms the yeller and the yellee.
He wasn't just "talking" about the subject mind you. He was using that pompous, pedigreed tone of voice experts employ to make themselves seem more intelligent. At one point, I imagined a perfect stranger taking his favorite pen out of his hand, whereupon he'd announce, "Now, that wasn't very nice was it?"
After they played a videotape of this maniac woman yelling at her kids for some petty offense, I realized I was that woman. Not all the time, but more often than necessary. Depending on my mood, I arbitrarily raise my voice in objection to rule violations my sons commit. Not only is this causing me medical problems like laryngitis; it is also undoubtedly making my children deaf. That has to be the reason they play their music so loudly, right?
So for their sake and mine, I made a vow to not yell about anything for an entire week.
On Sunday, my youngest son came home from church and allegedly changed clothes at my sincere and soft-spoken request. He put on a pair of droopy shorts with his dress shirt. He did not remove his black, silk Christmas socks. Then, he went outside and played basketball in his good shirt and holiday socks. I wanted to yell, but I didn't.
On Monday, my oldest son told me he had plenty of gas. On Tuesday, he asked for gas money. I wanted to scream, but instead, I gave him two dollars and advised him to take shortcuts.
On Wednesday when I told them to wash their hands for dinner, they did so over the cooked pasta draining in the sink. I had a baked potato and canned tuna. They said the spaghetti was great. I did not raise my voice even an octave.
On Thursday, someone forgot to remove their muddy shoes before entering the house and the kitchen floor looked like the course for a dirt bike race. I pointed to the mop and went to my room where I muffled a sound very similar to a scream with my pillow.
On Friday, I dropped a frozen chicken on my foot and hollered like I was on a thrill ride at Six Flags for a full minute. I don't care what that guy said, I felt so much better after that scream. Now, I certainly don't advocate yelling at your children -- though it seemed to work well for my mother – but I do believe you should engage in some type of activity each week that allows you to use all of your lung capacity.
By the way, I do not recommend dropping a frozen chicken on your foot. That really hurts.