Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Quiet Time with Arthur

Arthur is a loud child. Despite his good intentions, his sheer ear-blasting, mind-numbing volume is probably the single thing about this rather challenging child that drains me the most. It's loud, and it's incessant. Without reprieve. There are moments in my day with Arthur that I physically crave silence. Just for a moment. Which is not entirely fair, since he does take a nap in the afternoon. The boy needs his sleep. For which I am supremely grateful. However, there are some days when even a lengthy nap is barely sufficient a reprieve to enable me to sooth my shattered nerves and face the remainder of the day after nap time. We have been successful in teaching him the difference between volume appropriate to a chat across a football field and that required to traverse one of my small rooms. When told to use his "inside voice", he now knows what an inside voice is. This is progress. However, he can't seem to maintain an inside voice for more than, oh, 47 seconds. This afternoon, with repeated reminders, Arthur has managed what for him is moderate volume. The children are seated around the table, colouring. For an astonishing few seconds, there is utter silence. The only sound to be heard is the scribble of crayons across papers. It is blissful. Silence. This simply never happens with Arthur in the house. I have time for one deep breath; after eight seconds the silence is broken by "...meenuh, meenuh, meenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuh meenuh..." ...uttered in a tone forced out through vocal cords stretched taught, a tone that rasps against the nerves, that crawls into your ear, tunnels through your eardrum, and slices into your brain, which it then beats to a whimpering pulp with a mallet. "meenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuuhmeenuh" Arthur's head is bent over his work, he scribbles with focus and vigour. "meenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuh" This is Arthur's approximation of working quietly. "meenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeenuhmeennuh" "Arthur, please stop making that noise." He stops, lifts his head, eyes wide and innocent. "I was just singing a song!" "No, that's not a song, my dear. That's just noise. Please stop making that noise." Head down, crayon resumes its frenetic passage over the paper. His voice, taut and raspy, emerges yet again from under his chaotic mop of hair. "Old MacDonald had a farm, with a moo-moo here, anna moo-moo there" is music, or a reasonable approximation thereof. "Old MacDonald had a farm, with a moo-moo here, anna moo-moo there" And the volume, for Arthur, is acceptable. "Old MacDonald had a farm, with a moo-moo here, anna moo-moo there" So I sigh and let it roll on. "Old MacDonald had a farm, with a moo-moo here, anna moo-moo there" Seems this Old MacDonald is a dairy farmer.


Blogger ieatcrayonz said...

His parents should have taught him the virtues of the inside voice many moo(n)s ago.

Sometimes I make that noise when I eat my crayonz.

1/04/2006 08:29:00 a.m.  
Blogger Kristen said...

Arthur reminds me of Bryce. And we have been working on inside voice at home since the kid could vocalize and babble. I think some kids (and some people, like my stepdad, for instance) are just that way. Bryce has improved as he's grown, but it's a constant challenge for us too. I'm sure Arthur's song was annoying, but it sounds like a big improvement over his usual volume, at least. That's progress, like you said.

1/04/2006 09:17:00 a.m.  
Anonymous MIM said...

Two words: Ear plugs.

And, yes, I know it's a cop-out.

1/04/2006 09:43:00 a.m.  
Blogger Granny said...

Elcie's voice would break glass and she forgets sometimes. Usually though, all I have to do is say something and she tones it down for the moment.

The more excited she is, the higher the volume.

I have a headache just thinking about it.

1/04/2006 10:21:00 a.m.  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

Mstr A is also incredibly loud. We have tried to teach him about inside voices (and car voices, park voices, other peoples houses voices, and school voices!) since he was less than a year ago. Sometimes we can turn the volume down, but often he forgets! Occasionally I break & plead for just two minutes of quiet!

He hums at the dinner table too. It drives Aggie completely crazy, but I've learned to live with it - it's better than yelling & screaming. I'm sure they don't allow it at school though, so he must be caperble of quiet. I just never see it.

1/04/2006 12:13:00 p.m.  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

Oh yes, I meant to ask; where did Q go? Is he coming back?

1/04/2006 12:14:00 p.m.  
Blogger Candace said...

Ah, yes. So reminiscent of the last 8.5 years spent with Christopher. Sophie sings ALL the time, but it's a sweet, quiet singing.

(Oh, and you've got a "Harry" in that first paragraph when I think you mean "Arthur"?)

1/04/2006 12:18:00 p.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Crayonz: Moo(n)s... heh,heh.

His parents are self-confessed "boomers", and they aren't referring to their demographic... So I don't think Arthur gets much volume training at home.

In fact, one day his dad vented to me a bit about their tenant, who lets the flat within their home. Seems this tenant "has completely unrealistic expectations" of appropriate volume levels for a 3-year-old. I just nodded kindly, but my sympathies were entirely with the tenant!

Kristen: You do your best, but you're working with the material you're given. You've got a bolt of denim, you can make lots of good, sturdy play clothes, but a tutu? Not going to happen! And that's about as far as this analogy is taking me. :-)

mim: Don't think I haven't thought of it. However, I'm onto something a teacher friend suggested. One word: "Whisperphone". I've ordered a couple, and I'll let you know how they work.

Granny: The more excited, the more volume. So true! And Arthur, happy lad that he is, is in an almost-permanent state of good cheer. This is a good thing, this is a good thing, this is a goooood ....

MrsA: What is it about some kids that they simply must have a sound track to their every action? If they're not yelling, they're talking, if they're not talking, they're humming, if they're not humming, they're droning, if they're not droning, they're repeating a nonsense sound, if they're not doing any of the above, something is very wrong.

(Don't know what happened to Q. He's out of town. I saw his non-blog, checked his dashboard. All his posts show there. It's a mystery which I will leave for him to solve when he returns this evening.)

Misfit: As I tried to convey in the post, Arthur's (fixed that, thanks for the heads-up) voice is most definitely not sweet. Or quiet. His voice sounds strained, all the time. It makes me tense just to hear those vocal cords being twanged so taut.

1/04/2006 12:56:00 p.m.  
Blogger Aginoth said...

Was also gonna ask after Q...but you answered that already...Arthur sounds awfully like our son, never a quiet moment , he even hums whilst eating and chewing his food, it is just constat.

1/04/2006 02:42:00 p.m.  

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