Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On being quiet...

Those who have spent any time with me in person or on the phone know that I can be...hmmm...loud. Boisterous. Animated. Dramatic. I am part Italian, so I blame that for the fact I talk with my hands, my eyes, my ears. I am only 5'4" but as one of my coworkers stated, I come across much taller. I actually had someone say to me when they met me in person after speaking to me on the phone that they expected me to be taller. I guess you really can sound tall.

However, I also value being quiet. I grew up with a father who suffers from migraine headaches, and who we now know is also a depression sufferer. From the 60's to the 80's there were very few effective treatments for these issues. At a VERY early age I learned how to move quietly, play quietly, to be almost invisible when necessary. For anyone who has never had a migraine, the pain can be debilitating, accompanied by visual disturbances and nausea. Noise and light are your enemy.

As a result, I am still a physically quiet person for the most part. I don't blast music or the TV, I am probably over conscientious about whether or not our neighbors can hear whatever we are doing. And I am bugged easily by other people's noise.

Yesterday I was incapable of ignoring my work study student. The desk our students use is right outside of my office, as is the bathroom on this floor of our building. I am inadvertently aware of EVERY ONE'S bathroom habits as a result. But that is another post altogether. When our current work study student gets bored, she begins making noise. She is a little slip of thing, probably weighs 100lbs at most. But she can stomp her feet, bang the phone down, slam the bathroom door as loudly as three other people combined. Conversely when she answers the phone she has this little whispery voice. But I finally just had to send her home. After an hour of her stomping and slamming and banging around, I said ENOUGH. Go home. It was quiet enough that we didn't really need her and I was done listening to the huff and puff show. For better or worse she won't be working for us when the academic year starts as she is carrying a large credit load.

This makes me wonder if I have been conditioned abnormally - shut up Chip. Silence felt almost sacred in our house. If Dad was napping, which happened a LOT pre-diagnosis, we knew better than to stomp up or down the stairs or play music or the TV loudly. I think the only times I heard my father outright swear where when he had been awoken from a nap.

This was great training for having a child - you respect the nap and the bedtimes above all and do NOTHING that will awaken a sleeping baby/toddler. The rule in our house now is "He who wakes, placates." One weekend the Bob thought he would try out the weedwhacker he got for Father's Day (he doesn't need ties) while Cooper was napping. His room faces out over the backyard. Bob did not anticipate that the siren call of landscaping tools would be so strong, and of course an hour into what is normally a 3 hour nap, Cooper was up and demanding to see the weedwhacker. Bob won't do THAT again.

So while I might be somewhat abnormal in my sensitivity to and expectations about making noise, it seems to have come in handy as a mom. Lemons into lemonade, right? Now if I could just find a healthy way to channel my inability to tinkle when I think someone can see or hear me in the I said, another post for another time.


Anonymous said...

And someday, it may be too quiet.

Chip said...

Who should be razzing whom about being conditioned? I'm the younger brother of a devious sister.

The nap thing is also inherent in ADD. A system crash and reboot. I perfected the complete obliterating nap in college and it's still quite useful when everything on God's hunk of rock is like glass in my skull.

Quiet is good. It let's me know my tinnitus is really kicking in.