I have, almost completely, lost my voice. The viral illness that spread through our house over the holiday break has claimed me, hopefully as it's last victim. Forced into relative silence, I have been introspecting about my parenting style. I am accustomed to using my voice when interacting with my children, and without it I feel powerless. I am finding it very difficult to get my point across solely using gestures, basic sign language, and pointing. Ali can read basic sight words, but nothing as complicated as directions or requests, so writing things down for her isn't really an option. She has also been losing her voice, and we have had several arguments where neither of us is making recognizable sentences, rather we both gesticulate wildly and cough hoarse words at each other.
Being silent has shown me that I tend to step in to my kids little squabbles far too often and quickly. Their first line of defense when they are arguing is yelling for mom, and I usually respond and intervene. The past few days I've been stepping back and letting them try to work it out for a few minutes. I am happy to say that at least half of their arguments have been solved amongst themselves without my intervention. It has been good for me to try a different approach; being a referee for your kids at all times is exhausting and certainly doesn't help them develop their problem-solving skills. According to their teachers both kiddos do well with peer conflicts in the classroom, but at home they just end up screaming or crying until they get help from me.
Another silver lining to this viral illness cloud is my increased empathy for Grey. It is easy to conceptualize the frustrations with not being able to communicate effectively, but living it really brings home how tough it is to get through the day without speech. Grey is good at using gestures and pointing, but his speech is still severely limited. Thankfully his receptive language continues to progress, even if his verbalizations seem to have slowed down. Grey's world is still pretty small, though, and he can rely on his family and teachers to speak for him. I have had great difficulty trying to talk with other adults, both in person and over the phone. I am lucky that social media and email are such mainstream modes of communication, otherwise I would feel totally cut off from the world. Trying to discuss potential harmful interactions between prescriptions with the pharmacist is important, but rather hard when you can't talk. We finally figured it out, but I was ready to go home and email the pharmacy instead of trying to cough out my concerns in person.
Although I am grateful for the introspection and lessons learned from being sick, I am certainly ready for it to be over. I am on my third round of antibiotics in as many months, and I am tired of the extra meds. I keep telling myself that each day we survive is one day closer to summer, warmer weather, and (hopefully!) fewer sick days.