I typically sweat in church, because my older kids are a workout during the first 10-15 minutes of the service until they’re dismissed for Sunday school, and then, I am stuck with a baby that may or may not suffer from stranger anxiety in the nursery. One Sunday a fellow congregation member shared an observation with me, and I hear it ringing in my ears often. That particular day my children’s behavior was really no different than any other Sunday, and I have one word that just about sums it up: Itchy. I believe my daughter had wanted to dig through my purse for a pen so she could draw, laid on the seats during hymns in a not so ladylike fashion, and stuck her foot on top of her brother’s multiple times seemingly in an effort to be a nuisance to him. After the service, a woman who sits behind us regularly gave me one of those nice little sympathetic arm pats and in reference to my five-year-old daughter she said, “I tell ya- she only has one volume. Doesn’t she?” The lady seated with her giggled in agreement, and then, she chimed in, “One day that will trait will serve her well. Don’t you worry about it!”
Well, I have worried about it, and I’ve had her hearing tested more than once which is said to be just fine. Even when asked to speak in her “library voice” she has a loud whisper that drives me bonkers. She even has a shrill cackle that seemingly gets even higher pitched when she is super amused which is frequently throughout the day. She tears through our very open floor plan when her little brother has gone to bed using her one volume – Max – and we fear he’ll wake up. Most of the time he doesn't. I guess he’s used to her overpowering voice, too. To be so small and so loud is just so perplexing.
I guess most children are loud, but I think each family is graced with one that could win some contests. Our eldest who is seven years old is loud, too, especially when he’s annoyed by his little sister’s volume, but she’d always win the contest. I don’t know what’s worse – her Max or our son shouting at her to tone it down. Tonight he shouted at her, because he was trying to read. Well, shouting at someone to quiet down, because they’re loud isn't effective. My brief time as teacher taught me that. I’ll confess I do raise my voice to drive home points and to make myself heard in this uber loud home that feels more like a mad house at times.
My Mom loves to tell a story from my childhood. Funny – it took place on a Sunday morning, too. We were in our stuffy church (or so it felt stuffy to a four year old), and we were on the kneelers praying. I was actually sitting on the kneeler and using the pew as my desk with my mini Hello Kitty coloring book and mini markers. I guess I was making too much noise during the prayer by shuffling through pages, uncapping markers, probably humming to myself, etc, when I was supposed to be facing the other way and praying. This noise prompted my Mom to give my arm a little squeeze. In turn, I shouted loud enough for it to echo from the walls, “Owww! YOU PINCHED ME, MOM!”
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Silence. Not a peep. Father W. who was delivering the prayer stopped in his tracks. I believe my Mom looked up at him panic stricken, and he winked or something like that. Then, there was a small collective giggle from the congregation. His prayer promptly ended, the service continued, and my Mom was naturally mortified.
Now, I get it, and I know she, too, suffered a workout at church on Sundays. I owe her one of those sympathetic arm pats that the lady in church gave to me. This story is the reason that I refuse to let my daughter take her markers, coloring book, etc. into church even though they’re quiet toys. When an inherently loud child is using them those items somehow add to the decibel level in a quiet space. Even without quiet toys she’s found a way to make some noise by using the bulletin every Sunday to make paper airplanes or peeling her name tag on and off repeatedly…ugh…
All of this said, I must say that I am glad she doesn't fear using her voice. I love her so dearly, and I love that she speaks her mind. It sure beats shying away from stating her opinion. Her strong larynx and strong nature will most definitely suit her well someday…like when she’s a mom like me…am I right, mamas?