The other night Josh had to raise his voice to get his three-year-old daughter’s attention when she loudly complained about her dinner. She immediately bowed her head, started to sniffle and reached out for a napkin to wipe the tears off of her eyeglasses. Her mother was speechless, deferring as we all do in support of our spouses and trying to uphold the “united front”. I was amazed. And admittedly, a little jealous, a little hurt.
Anytime I overhear a man raise his voice the little girl inside of me squirms just a tad. To this day, when I hear a small child’s cry I get an overwhelming urge to nurse a newborn! No matter how well the discipline may be needed I KNOW what is going to happen next. It’s not like when mommy raises her voice. In fact I told Josh, as his face did it’s own painful contortions, try to raise the octave next time. Not louder, just higher like a woman’s. She wouldn’t have cried if he hadn’t startled her so well with that rough, gruff, grizzly bear growl.
Ed disagreed. So did Josh. They wanted their respective girls to notice a difference so that their discipline would not be in vain. I can’t begin to tell you on how many levels that comment bothered me. Did I have to raise, and deepen my voice instead of teaching, bargaining, reading and playing? Was a mother’s discipline in vain? Was this the reason a male is needed around the home? To scare us all into line?
Would I want that kind of power? Would I be able to control it, like our spouses seem to do, and not abuse it? Imagine being able to control your child’s emotions like an eggshell in your trembling hand. Did Josh really relish his grizzly-bear approach?
But the expression on Josh’s face told me differently. He appeared to regret being a man during the reprimand and had only reassured himself later, with Ed’s help, that he had done the right thing. Was it just as hard when the mothers weren’t watching? I certainly hoped so.
Another amazing thing happened that kind of mad me squirm, a little differently, again. A teenaged boy in our practice neglected to take his antibiotics after root canal treatment and wounded up pretty uncomfortable. When his mother tried to express to me what she felt her first question to me was how did I feel when Samantha is in pain and I can’t help her.
I thought of the times I stood by Ed when he, like Josh, was in charge of discipline. But what I told the mother was this: “Do you have any girls? Because holding your son’s hand through a toothache won’t even compare to holding your grown daughter’s through childbirth.” And when she didn’t seem convinced that anything could have been worse I reminded her that I bet that it had been a long time since her eldest son needed her. Because sons I bet, like their father’s, start practicing that gruff voice long before they become fathers themselves.
Today when Samantha and I were finishing up a hike in our new neighborhood a strange dog left his yard and started to follow us. It was getting dark, and cold, and Hobbes the macho wonder dog did nothing to make me feel protected. I used a stern voice to banish him back to his own yard, when he turned to go back Samantha mimicked me and used her stern voice. The dog was back on our trail and I had to warn Samantha not to use her voice because it was too high, too sweet, and the dog thought she wanted to play.
Oh yes, dear reader there is a point. The answer is to be there to support your husband and be grateful that you’re a woman. Because if it wasn’t for the rough, gruff toothaches and childbirth’s we’d be reduced to an empty bowl of honey. With only the distant smell as a reminder of what we are capable of sweetening.