Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kanga I'm Not

I have a friend named Nikki and most of the time, she speaks at a decibel that only her family can hear. Her kids have been trained from the womb and her husband has had more practice than anyone else. Now-- she laughs loud, which I LOVE, but hearing her is an acquired special ability. On the last little trip a friend and I took with her, we walked crooked for a day or two having hunched over toward her for four hours while she drove. Did our painful hunching change her volume? No. She CANNOT speak louder. It’s just not in her. She doesn’t talk a ton (unless she has some crazy passport story or one about her husband yelling at men in mini vans), so when she speaks, you don’t want to miss it. When a group of Moms have “confessionals” regarding a not so pretty interaction with their kids, it is always a bit of joke to think of Nikki yelling at her three children. To picture her raising her voice at her kids or speaking snippily to her family is like picturing the Pope break dancing or Rachel Ray in point shoes and a pink tutu. It just doesn’t work. I compare her to Kanga from the A. Milne Pooh characters who is known for her kind words and gentle discipline towards all of the Milne characters, not just her own little Roo. If you know Kanga’s voice that Disney gave to her, that is the way Nikki speaks to her family and friends. You lean in.

However, my family needs no special ability to hear my voice. They not only hear me, but they want to delve into every emotion behind my tone. “What’s the matter?” “Is something wrong?” “You sound mad.” “Anything a matter?” “Your voice sounds mad.” I hear some variation of these questions/statements at least once a day from my crew. Depending on where the hour hand is resting on the clock, or how many days it has been since I have been able to sit and stare or how long it’s been since I have had food (and I use the term "food" loosely), their words can create a situation that didn’t exist before they spoke or make my situation worse. I will be the first to say there is NO excuse for being snippy with my family......... unless, that is, all the above circumstances are extenuating...... simultaneously. Snip, snip, snip. But really, I should be more mature than that. Maybe when I turn 40 in a few months.....

On a NORMAL day, when my “state of being” is being questioned, I am usually blind-sided by the inquisition. Quickly, my brain goes into rewind trying to remember the last few things that have escaped across my lips. It is usually things like, “Hey, can you hang up your coat?”, “Can y’all clean off the table?”, “Clean out your baskets on the stairs before dinner.”, “B, can you round up all 4 pairs of your shoes you have worn since lunch?”, “Julia, can you put away all the books?” "Let's get those Legos put away." The words come out matter-of-fact-ly because that’s just practical. My best excuse is that I am in “task mode”-- a no-nonsense state of mind trying to accomplish four things while Julia and Brighton get things five and six done for me. I say I am using my “task mode” voice and they say it needs to change. I have thought about that several times and have come up with nothing. I think I tried something different once-- probably the same voice, but I really stretched myself and added a big grin. I'll never forget Brighton stopping dead in his tracks on the other side of the kitchen counter, returning the grin and asking, “What? Why are you smiling at me? You are kidding, aren’t you? I really don’t have to clean up the play room, do I?”

Over the weekend, I got the question--- after church. My 6:30 a.m. Zone Bar had worn off and so had everyone else’s breakfast. I had nothing prepared for lunch and all I could think of was a good old fashioned Sunday afternoon nap which seemed much more valuable to me than some nutritious meal at the moment. I was aware of my “condition” and I thought I was holding it together pretty good. I heard one of "the questions", quickly balked, but then decided to silence myself while Jeff and I got lunch ready.

After a nap and Jeff’s coffee, in that order, the children began their normal antics around the house, which, as you know, always requires a big chunk of interaction. B was first. As he came in and out of the house, he had a list of questions regarding the rest of the day which didn’t have many waking hours left in it. I began answering him changing my voice to some character from a musical that can only sing. (It was highly annoying and it didn’t help that I can’t sing.) Jeff caught on quickly. Brighton loved it. The questions kept coming and I belted out the answers in musical notes. Julia came in from outside and asked her question. I answered melodically. A couple of times. Puzzled, but amused, she looked at Jeff and he explained, “Momma is trying to have a more pleasant voice so she thought she would try to sound like............like...............” He was having trouble coming up with something.

Julia jumped up and down and said, “Like Mrs. Nikki!!”


Sarah said...

Yes, if only we could all have Nikki's voice, and her size 0 jeans :) If misery loves company, that has been one of my main deals these last years, my tone of voice, and my face with my kids. I love them so much, but let my guard down too much. But we are striving, yes?

Alyssa said...

About as close as I've ever gotten to Mrs. Nikki's voice is when people have had to lean over because I supposedly "mumble." I hope the kids gave you some credit for your creativity because I sure would!

nikki said...

you are too kind....please don't ask my children to confirm the truth of this post- they have much material for the other side of the story!

am i really that quiet??? for real??? our next road trip, i'll get a mic- like the one britney spears wears on stage- that way there will be no leaning in or wondering what i said!

love you sweet friend- thank you for this!