Friday, January 1, 2010

Use Your Nice Voice

What’s for dinner? I’m so happy that you’re asking nicely, in a nice voice with no whining. I respond to people who ask me things their nice voices and use the pleasant, underused expression known in Italy as “por favore” and here in America and in a place called Canada as “please.” Is there something else you would like to know, you precious, polite little things? Perhaps how Mommy is feeling about all the crap in the living room?

How perceptive and empathetic, my children! How right you are! She’s not feeling good about it. Her face is a sad face like the kind we sometimes stick on the Mr. Potato Head doll. The “emotion,” -- that’s another word for feeling -- that Mommy is experiencing has further nuances, too.

What’s a nuance, please? Dear, it comes from the Middle French -- France being another place, like Canada -- meaning a shade of meaning. You know how your Crayons come in blue and light blue and also in aqua and chartreuse? Mommy’s nuanced feeling when it comes to the little clay balls that you have smooshed into the pile of the white carpet is a shade of hopelessness and a shade of rage. It would be best represented if this was Crafts Time, by a very red crayon, but then you would take this red crayon, my personal Rage, and use it to color the tub in the guest bathroom and I wouldn’t notice it until Grandma visited and asked, with her wry sense of humor if something had been killed and not cleaned up. I would shoot back, also smiling with all my teeth, “not yet” and you kids would notice this thing that happens sometimes among adults called “tension.”

Tension is why, this year we as a family will be going out for Thanksgiving dinner. I would tell you more if it was Circle Time and you had remained seated on your carpet squares, but you are not. It is so thrilling to launch yourself from the couch? What’s so thrilling about it?

I see. Thank you for showing me by hitting me in the face with your stuffed giraffe. It is that sense of lightheadedness and disorientation.

The giraffe’s glass eyes have come undone and now one is lost and your baby sister has the other one and will probably stick it up her nose. The feeling I’m having here is one of inevitability, of powerlessness in the face of great truths. I might make some “very dramatic black dots” because I am not supposed to judge your finger paintings good or bad, instead what I must do is praise your choice of color, and line length, effort, and hand-eye coordination. If this was Dance Class I might just lie on the floor, expressing myself.

When you use your nice voice to tell me you hate the fish sticks I am making for dinner, I rather dislike your nice voice. Do not forage in the fridge for “something else.” There is nothing else. Just eat it. We will have Science Time later, I promise, when we look in the toilet bowl after Daddy comes home.


  1. This is so well done and so true. My head has been there many times, but usually with more profanity (internal) and far less eloquent (interenal and external).

  2. rolling on the floor laughing. SO funny, and so true.

    i love the bit about "tension"