It’s Not All Mary Poppins

At least it’s a quiet one

Nissa is a boomer.

No, not the demographic. The volume. It’s a term I adopted from a previous client who, when I told her that we’d been working on her son’s “inside voice” (which was ear-shatteringly non-existent), chuckled and said, “Well, we’re a family of boomers, so it’s not surprising.”

In fact, the dad in that family was pretty soft-spoken. Perhaps the others were all too busy booming to notice? Maybe he boomed more in private, but I always kind of pictured him at the edges of things, ducking around the waves of volume surging through the air.

Nissa’s parents, too, are boomers. Both of them. They are cheerful, enthusiastic, energetic… and LOUD. The only time inside voices happen with them is when a child is sleeping upstairs. I have to be quick with the announcement. Dad has woken a sleeping baby within 45 seconds of arrival.

They may not have noticed, but children have been sleeping upstairs a LOT lately. In fact, it is possible that Mary has, on occasion, when seeing them pull into the drive, quickly bundled a baby into a highchair out of sight in the kitchen, tossed a handful of Cheerios onto the tray, and hoped that would keep him/her quiet enough to fake a nap… I’m not saying it has happened. I’m just saying it could’ve.


So Nissa booms. And Mary teaches inside voice. And Nissa booms some more. We have had some success. Nissa now understands the concept, at any rate, and does actually apply it from time to time, but you can see it’s not natural.

BOOMING is her natural state.



We’d just finished baking biscotti, and the children were all going to get a piece to dunk in their milk. Of course, as with every social interaction, this is a Teachable Moment.

“Emily, would you like some biscotti?”
“Yes, please.”
“Okay. Here you go!”
“Thank you!”
“You’re welcome.”

(You start with the kid you KNOW is going to do it right. Peer pressure/modelling. Very useful tool.)

Then you go on to the second-most reliable.

“Noah, would you like some biscotti?”
“Yes, please.”
“Okay. Here you go!”
He reaches out. I hang on, don’t say anything, but don’t let go, either. He pauses, a little puzzled, then comprehension dawns.
“Thank you!”
“You’re welcome.”

And so on through the children, with varying degrees of prompting, until…

“Nissa, would you like some biscotti?”
“— —–”

Puzzled? It’s just that I’m not sure how to write ‘air’. Her lips moved, but no sound emanated. At all.

“Pardon, Nissa? Did you say something?”
“— —–”

The creativity of the power struggle never ceases to amaze me. If she’d been a normally quiet child, I’d have lip-read and accepted this. But this is Nissa, a confirmed boomer. Nissa, who has trouble with ‘inside voice’, has now damped it down to air-and-lip-movement.

“I’m sorry, sweetie, but if I can’t hear you, I can’t give it to you. Let’s try again: Would you like some biscotti?”

“— —–”

Little so-and-so!

“All right. I guess you don’t want it, after all.” I scan the room and see that Tyler has almost finished his piece. “Tyler, would you like some more biscotti?”

Tyler can hardly believe his good fortune. “Yeh, pliss.”
“Here you go!” I move my arm with the treat in it toward him.

“NO!!! THAT’S MINE!!!”

Nissa is OUTRAGED.

I turn to her, my face radiating surprise. “Oh, you do want some?” Now I’m radiating pleased warmth. “Well, that’s good, because they’re very yummy.” And then, as if we haven’t been through this before, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, “Nissa, would you like some biscotti?”

“— —–”

Nissa did not get any biscotti.


February 8, 2010 - Posted by | food, Nissa, power struggle | ,


  1. “Boomer”, huh? I guess we’ve got one of those. My husband and I tell each other all the time “I wish she’d come with a volume control.” We remind her, and she quiets down. For 2 minutes. As soon as she moves on, she forgets. I’m hoping one day it will sink in… and I hope it is soon. I’m tired of repeating myself.

    It will. My second two kids were loud when they were little. Nowadays they’re just normal. When did the magical transition happen? I’m not sure…

    Comment by ktjrdn | February 8, 2010 | Reply

  2. I’m so glad Nissa didn’t get any biscotti. Little poop!

    Little poop, for sure. She is one stubborn monkey.

    Comment by Jen | February 8, 2010 | Reply

  3. guess my son is a boomer too! i’m constantly having to remind him not to shout at me!

    My aunt, a wise and wonderful parent, once told me that it’s easy to be consistent about the things that REALLY annoy you. If you’re ‘constantly’ doing something, you’re much more assured of seeing the change you’re working for. It’s not a guarantee, of course — what in parenting is? — but you have every reason for confidence. Hold that thought. 🙂

    Comment by Dana | February 8, 2010 | Reply

  4. Thank you for not giving her any biscotti.

    The day I have a daycarable kid is the day i will consider moving into canada so that i can use you as my day care provider.

    There was never any question of that little monkey getting a biscotti without an audible ‘thank you’. Perhaps she believes that now…

    If you have that child and move to my corner of Canada, we can talk. 😀

    Comment by Suzi | February 8, 2010 | Reply

  5. Nissa really cracks me up. She is my favorite to hear stories about right now.

    She’s a wealth of stories, that’s for sure. Good thing I like the feisty ones, huh?

    Comment by Sarah | February 8, 2010 | Reply

  6. Oh, this made me laugh! Love the Nissa stories.

    Comment by Raia | February 9, 2010 | Reply

  7. yeah, there are those kids. We called one of them at a former library branch “Foghorn.” Have you read the book “Loud Emily” before?

    Even my pumpkinpie used to be quiet, but seems to have lost her volume control at times. I spend a lot of time visibly cringing and asking her to stop shouting, since I’m only a foot away and not yet hard of hearing.

    Comment by kittenpie | February 9, 2010 | Reply

  8. Heh — I was loud and SHRILL. Mom was constantly trying to correct me, modeling a low, smooth contralto (a la Lauren Bacall) for me as she admonished me. One day, I was hitting upper registers and the voice of my baby brother piped up behind me, in an exaggerated low growl, “modulate your voice, Carolie. Modulate your vooooooooice.” Now, of course, it’s one of those stupid family in-jokes that pops up at holidays. I still hear the ghost of that whisper if I start to get emotional and shrill!

    Comment by Carolie | February 10, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: