Can you hear me now?
I used to speak softly. People were constantly saying, “What? Say that again?”
Parenthood cured me of that, at least at home.
The experts say you're not supposed to howl at your children. You are not supposed to yell or shout.
Apparently, it's bad for them and they don't learn anything from it.
According to the gurus of parenting, if parents communicated in a more effective manner, children would pay attention. What they fail to take into account is that, children DELIBERATELY IGNORE YOU. Mind you, they can hear you standing in a closet on the other side of the house trying to furtively open a chocolate bar without making any sound. They hear what they want to hear.
I'm not saying yelling works, necessarily, just that it's the default option when all else fails.
Take this conversation.
“Darling, do you think you could clear the 20 million Lego blocks off the floor? There's a good girl.”
Some of the parenting books say you should simplify things. So next time, I say it a little louder, and with fewer words: “Excuse me, could you pick up the Lego?”
See what I did there? I used “excuse me”. I was polite. I was calm. Still no response. At this point I am standing right behind her.
Third time: “CLEAN UP YOUR ROOOOOMMMMM!!!”
The walls are vibrating. The windows are rattling.
She finally looks up, quizzically. “Why are you yelling? I'm right here.”
Answer: “You didn't hear me the first six times so I thought some volume was required.”
Her: “You don't have to shout.”
She makes no move to pick up the Lego scattered over every inch of carpet, but goes back to what she was doing before I started howling.
Once, I yelled 12 straight times from another room: “Turn off the television; it's time to go!”
I walked into the living room and she said: “Sorry mom, I didn't hear you say it was time to turn off the television.”
I said: “If you didn't hear me how do you know I told you to turn it off?”
It got to be so bad I took her to the paediatrician to find out if there was something wrong with her hearing. He poked around in her ears, and put some kind of hand-held do-dad in there.
Nope, she has perfect hearing. She could hear a Lego block drop in the next house, basically.