I’m a big believer that tone of voice really matters. At home, we work to teach our son to try and talk nicely with others. There’s nothing more discouraging than for tones of irritation or menace to lace a conversation. And when you’re the one who’s irritated, it’s hard to hear the way your voice sounds to others. I find it helpful to touch him on the arm and get his attention, and then tell him to watch his voice; likewise, if I’m irritated, I appreciate when somebody snaps me out of my revelry. Because some days I’m so irritated I can’t stand myself.
So this morning as I try to get a little writing done, my son’s playing Portal 2 on the XBOX with a couple of friends, his wireless headphones muting the conversation so it’s for his ears only. But I can hear the bickering and bossy commands they shout through the airwaves, snapping at each other like jackals. Appalled, that’s what I am. He’s huffing and they’re puffing. Yet they break into song on occasion, laugh, and keep on playing, even when I try to convince him that maybe it’s time to take a break. Then he looks at me like I’m smoking crack.
It’s a good thing he can’t hear the tone of voice in my head right now, because it would reach out and jack-slap him into a smile and polite conversation. Tone of voice, you see, is sometimes all that keeps the peace. Well, that and patience. And Lord knows I am the least patient person I know.