This has been an exceptionally loud summer. And I’m not talking about noises caused by outrageous thunderstorms or pesky cicadas. No, I’m talking about family noise.
There’s that “indoor voice” thing that my 10-year-old son has yet to master. And then there’s my oft-delivered plea, “I’m on the phone!” that goes unheeded by my daughter. She’ll continue to talk in her regular, un-lowered voice—much to my dismay—while the caller repeatedly asks, “Who’s that? What’s that?” Working from home in the summer months is not all sunshine and roses.
Adding to the noise are the two family dogs who spend their days lazing around by my feet while keeping an ear out for danger. At the slightest provocation—a squirrel in the yard, a troubling car heading down our country lane—they’re barking like they’ve seen a masked man at the window. Heaven help me if I’m on the phone again.
I’ve tried to lower the decibel levels in our home. I’ve experimented by talking more softly; once when I had laryngitis, I discovered that when I whispered, my kids did the same, too. So I started speaking gently; however, I just found that no one heard me. Maybe it’s because they knew I really hadn’t lost my voice that time. I said my son’s name about 20 times before he finally looked over at me puzzled. I didn’t have the patience for that kind of noise-level conditioning.
So I yell for the kids and the dogs and my husband; they holler for each other (well, the dogs just bark). The kids play loudly and laugh loudly. (And yes, yell loudly, too, when they’re angry. At least they don’t throw things. Not too often, at least.)
Driving the car used to be my refuge. The kids would read, or just zone out, as I drove them about town. But lately, they’ve been clowning around and driving me batty with their noisiness. Driving them home last weekend from yet another swim meet, I glanced at my husband and said, “I officially feel like a chauffeur.”
Then, as we yelled at them for the bazillionth time to “knock it off” back there, it hit me. If I were officially a chauffeur, I’d at least have some sort of limo and that dividing plexi-glass window to shut out my section of the car from their noisy back section. Ah, silence.
Till I upgrade my Subaru, my strategy has become cranking up the stereo and then singing along at the top of my lungs. That gets their attention, as ever since they were preschoolers they hate to hear me sing (believe me, they have good reason).
“If you’ll be quiet,” I holler at them over the music, “so will I.”