I’m Loud, OK?

The other night, three moms on our street, including me, were trying to collect our children, but they were joyfully playing in our inflatable pool–clothes and Halloween costumes on, even though its July–and refused to listen to us. It took nicely speaking to our kids, then finally yelling at them, to get them to listen, step out of the pool and head to our three homes.

I immediately put my 8-year-old Patrick and my 3-year-old Luke in the tub because they were filthy and, in the air-conditioned house, freezing.

As they bathed, Patrick talked about how our next-door neighbor, Anna Marie, has the softest yell. She’ll scream, “Charles,” he mimicked, demonstrating how it was barely a yell at all.

Then he said, “Then there’s you. PATRICK!!!!!!!

I am loud. I didn’t realize how loud until six years ago. (Then again, before I had kids, I didn’t yell at all.) Six summers ago, we were at a neighborhood party. Patrick was just two, and he and other kids were playing in a sand table across the yard, when I saw Patrick purposefully throw sand in a 3-year-old girl’s face. I screamed, “PATRICK!!!!,” and everyone at the party–adults and kids–froze and looked at me.

Patrick could have scratched her cornea with the sand-throwing, so I wanted him to stop. And just like I can recognize his voice yelling “Mom” in a crowd, I knew he’d recognize my yell. But I hadn’t intended to halt the party, calling attention to his bad behavior–and my loudness. No one is proud to be loud, right?

Now I know how loud I am, so I can tone it down. But I can also ramp it up, such as in situations in which my kids simply aren’t listening to me.

Like the other night.

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