Voice Over


Last night–shortly after an audition (talk about timing!)–the Maiden developed laryngitis. I’m pretty sure this was her first time. In fact, I’m positive: ever since she piped up “Kitty!” at age nine months, she has said enough words to make a ladder from here to the furthest reaches of the universe. And back.

Without a break.

Normally the Maiden loves to talkandtalkandtalk and then keep on talking long after you’ve zombie-zoned out and/or done 11 loads of laundry, vacuumed the entire house (loudly), lawnmowered the grass until it’s below sea level, blasted the radio until the cops were called, and, just for kicks, run the drill and the saw and whatever other noisy stuff the Man has in the garage.

See, most chatterboxy types invent imaginary friends with whom to converse. But somehow the Maiden missed that memo. I am her imaginary friend. Or at least her imaginative friend, because sometimes under the stormy torrents of talk I fondly imagine how much I enjoyed the Maiden’s “bababa” gurglings when she was in her pre-word babyhood.

Come to think about it, she babbled a lot then, too.

Now all this is good. I like that she’s lively and energetic, that she likes to engage the world and comment on it. At length. But sometimes my ear hurts, or I begin yearning to live on the moon, where sound can’t travel.

As Eliza Doolittle sang,

“Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
I get words all day through;
First from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do?”

Anyways, all that walking dictionaryishness came to a screeching (silent?) halt when the laryngitis struck.

The Maiden struggled valiantly against it, but the louder she tried to hiss and whisper, the further her sound receded. Convinced she’d never speak again, she went to bury her sorrows in a sticker game.

An eerie silence descended over the house.

After momentary appropriately lengthy sympathy with her plight, I was all, “Awesome! I can actually get some work done for a change!” But it started feeling creepy after a while. It was like a ghost was rustling through my house, and I couldn’t focus for fear it would lay a clammy cold finger on my shoulder and send my soul Beyond.

Because as much as I hated to admit it, I’d actually gotten used to the personalized background radio of the Maiden playing and rushing back and forth to ask me for/about Ab.Solutely.Everything. It was like part of my white noise comfort zone, and without it everything seemed bland and boring–even lonely.

So when her voice started trickling back after a few hours, I was admittedly elated. Until her enthusiasm started returning too, and by the time I started going crazy we were back to our regularly scheduled programming: “Look Mommy, I’m painting my face like Piglet!” (With bath paint.) “Mommy! This bath smells nice!” “Lalalalalalallalalalalallala [random singing]!” “Mommy can I paint my eyes?”

“No.”

“Can I paint inside my ears?”

“No.”

“Can I paint inside my mouth?”

“NO! No paint anywhere on the face!”

“Can I paint my cheeks?”

“No.”

“But I waaaaaant to paint my cheeks!”

“FINE, whatever! Just not in the eyes, nose, ears, or mouth!”

“Can you wash my hair?”

“In a minute!”

“Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?”

“YESSSSS?”

“While I’m waiting, can I paint my butt?”

Laryngitis is starting to sound pretty awesome again.

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