There’s just nothing quite like being awakened at 3a.m. by every smoke detector in the house going off. EEE–EEE—EEEEEEEEEEEE. EEE–EEE—EEEEEEEEEEE…every one of them is high-pitched, but about a quarter tone off the others. Just imagine. They’re all linked, so no matter where you are in the house you’ll wake up. That’s good, except that they go off on average once a year, and it’s always because one of them has a low battery or the detector itself has gone bad. And what’s up with it ALWAYS HAPPENING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT? Don’t smoke detectors ever go bad in daylight?????
Some days, I can see the light at the end of the small childhood tunnel. Last night was one of those nights. I gave the kids jobs…and they did them! Even Julianna, who pulled all the chairs out of the kitchen in preparation for mopping without having to be re-prompted a single time. (Cue angelic chorus.)
Of course, there are hazards to so much unaccustomed productivity. Michael came out of the bathtub and followed me downstairs, right onto the floor Alex had just finished mopping. He immediately and spectacularly wiped out, twenty-six pounds of naked toddler splayed across the Pergo. And he didn’t learn his lesson, either. We counted three full-body slides before Christian and Julianna left for adaptive swim…and two more afterward. I took Alex out onto the deck to cut his hair. Michael, who no longer trusted the surface of the earth to support him, stood (naked) at the edge of the carpeting and watched me the whole time, wailing.
Last week, Margaret at Felice mi fa talked about saving her voice. It was like a billboard: KATE! PAY ATTENTION! I too depend on my voice for some part of my livelihood, and I have felt well below my prime for quite a while. Some of it is seasonal but I can’t blame everything on the weather. I have to use my voice so darned much. I’m trying to manage a household with four kids. I have to tell each child each task at least three, and often five times. You do the math. I am issuing instructions twenty times over the course of getting kids into bed, for instance.
And then there’s the shouting. No one hears me unless I shout. They really don’t. In the past few years I’ve learned the art of the bellow–but there’s a price.
Sunday morning my voice was so stiff that I struggled to back up our lone soprano on her descants. I thought, Something has got to change. If my voice is behaving this way at thirty-nine, I won’t be singing at all at fifty-five.
So when we got home, I didn’t let anyone out of the van until they were all looking at me, and I said, “There will be no more shouting. If I have to shout to get you to respond, you will lose privileges. Do you understand?”
So how’s that working out for me, you ask? Surprisingly well. As with most things, when Mom prioritizes it, more is possible than she thought. I’ve had to accept that things don’t happen as quickly. But I’ve learned that the temper and the bellow feed each other. In any case, I made it until Thursday night without a true shout. My voice still feels not great, but undoubtedly better than it would if I was abusing it.
Can I get anyone to join me to start a campaign to do away with the words “friendly reminder”? I can’t tell you how many “friendly reminders” I’m getting via email blast and backpack notes lately, and they never…EVER…feel “friendly.” In fact, they feel quite the opposite. I move that we strike the phrase from the English language and replace it with the honest truth: “Listen up, you losers! If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times! (FILL IN THE BLANK!)”
Don’t you think people would be more likely to remember that way?
We’ve been watching the developments in Colorado with pained fascination and sympathy, considering it’s all going down right where we spent one of the best weeks of our lives, only two months ago.
There hasn’t been much talk about the long-term drought that has been troubling that area for the last several years. I keep praying that at least this weather event will fill the water tables and end the drought in one of the most beautiful areas on Earth. That the water doesn’t just run off. That at least that one good could come of it.