Sunday, April 15, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?

It is the bane of every mother's existence-- the question repeated a million times a day:  Did you hear me?  Sometimes it sounds more like "what did I just say to you?!" or "do I need to repeat myself?!"  No matter how you ask this question, it all boils down to the same idea-- IS ANYONE LISTENING TO ME IN THIS GODFORSAKEN PLACE!!!!!

If you have to ask, the answer is probably NO.

I not list-en-ing to yooooou!

Mothers everywhere experience this communication rift at some time or another.  Some mom's-- like me-- feel like there is more rift and less communication on most days, and yet we keep on trying.  I suppose we are genetical predisposed to optimism, always certain that one day our dogged perseverance will pay off and we will be rewarded with a response.  I am coming to the conclusion, however, that my optimism is more likely a delusion.  I have been at this mommy thing for nearly eight years and I am still asking the question "did you HEAR me?  What did I SAY?"  Like I am ever going to get a response I want to hear!

Puh-leeze-- talk to the phone.
I have this theory.  It makes me feel better to imagine it might be true.  My theory is that all children start learning to tune out their mother's voice while still in the womb.  Think about it!  If all you hear for the first 40 weeks of your existence is the same voice, all the time, without pause or variation, wouldn't you learn how to block it out?!  Our voices become background noise in our babies' lives, and we all know that the human brain can block out background noises.  Maybe our kids cannot help but ignore us.  Once our children are born, we are their constant source of information for years, and most of the time during those first years we are telling them what NOT to do.  Don't touch that.  Don't go there.  Don't draw on that.  Don't eat that.  Can't get a much better reason than that to keep ignoring our voices. 

My background noise theory is further proven by the fact that others in my life have developed the same inability to hear me.  My husband, by dog, some of my students-- all require me to replay the broken record to get questions answered from time to time.  With the exception of my dog, all have responded to my exasperated restating of questions with "oh, I didn't hear you the first time" or "you were talking to me?"  For a fleeting moment, I thought maybe I just wasn't loud enough or assertive enough to be heard.  But for those of you that know me, you realize how ludicrous this is.  (Me-- not loud enough?  Yeah right!)  It is more likely that I just communicate too often, further training those around me to tune out the frequency of my voice.  (In other words, I may as well shut up-- I am teaching them to ignore me.)

The ultimate proof that my kids have learned to tune out the frequency of my voice is that if I change my voice the least little bit, suddenly I am on the radar again!  My normal speaking voice goes unnoticed.  My shrieking, whispering, singing and cartoon voices, however, get tuned right in.  Changing the frequency changes their response.  This could prove useful.

"and then I said, like..."
In light of my discoveries, I have devised a two-fold plan to counter the background noise "issue".  If only I can make it work.

For the first half of my plan, I am trying to make my Princess and Birdie understand that part of being respectful is letting others know that you are listening and understand what they are saying.  This is difficult for my ladies, especially since they aren't the most empathetic people on the planet.  It's hard for them to see the value in letting others know they are paying attention-- they can't always put themselves in someone else's shoes.  To work around this little social "disconnect", I am trying the Pavlovian method of teaching respect-- so far with limited success.  I am hoping that by the end of second grade, when I say Princess or Birdie's name, she will respond with "Yes, ma'am" reflexively.  If they will do that one tiny little thing, half my listening problems will be solved.  At least then I will know that for one instant, I was being heard.

The second half of my plan has to do with the discovery I mentioned earlier.  I will try to use different modulations of my normal voice (other than shrieking, which has been my recent go-to tone of voice) to get my darlings' attention-- in other words, I will act like an idiot.  I hope that acting the fool changing my speaking voice will capture their attention.  SO, if you ever encounter me with my children (or dog, or husband) and I am sounding a little... off (ex. I'm singing instructions, or I sound like I just ingested a helium balloon)... you will know that I am changing "tactics" in order to avoid asking the dreaded question "did you hear me?"

Here's hoping my little plan works without making me look completely ridiculous.  Oh, what am I saying?!  I'll take looking ridiculous if it works!  

What do you do in order to be heard?

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, this is so true!! I think I will start changing my voice as well! Maybe you are on to something ;) Found you on Blogger Moms! Love this!