Inside Voices Outside, Outside Voices Inside

Noah certainly has no trouble bringing his outside voice inside and keeping it there. He gets right in my face and starts “talking” at the top of his lungs, telling me about some fantastic tower he’s just built, something funny the Bulldog just did, or what kind of snack he’d like.

danoahWhen it’s at its worst, and as if by some magical curse, I usually stare at him blankly, smiling without replying. This of course frustrates him a tad and he wants to know if I heard him. “It’s so weird,” I tell him. “I try hard to hear what you’re saying, but I can’t hear outside voices when they’re inside.” This is usually followed by a laugh and a repeat of whatever he said at a new decibel level that my ears can handle.

I do hear the same statements slip out that I remember my own parents saying from time to time. “I’m right here!” or “you don’t need to yell everything!” It makes me laugh thinking back to when I was a kid and how much I must have yelled things to my folks. I’m pretty sure it’s a universal kid thing.

As Noah ages, the need to mention the use of inside voices had diminished, but its still very much present. As is my need to tell him to use his outside voice outside while we’re out in the yard or riding our bikes. For some reason, the opposite phenomenon is true when we’re outdoors. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the peacefulness of the mountain neighborhood in which we live, maybe it’s the overwhelming bigness of the world around him, but Noah rarely talks loudly enough for me to hear him while we’re outside.

“Can you talk louder?” I constantly ask him. “When we’re outside, I can’t hear what you’re saying unless you say it loud!” This is usually said when I’m across the yard or when I’m ten feet behind him on my own bike while his feet move a thousand pedals an hour on his little trike. I tell him “if there was ever a time to use your outside voice, this is it! This is your big chance!”

My favorite is when I’m mowing the lawn and I see him standing on the back patio, saying something to me. He inevitably gets frustrated that I can’t hear him while the lawnmower is going, so I turn it off and ask him what he needs. Chocolate milk. His sand toys. Can he let the Bulldog out of his kennel. I try to explain to him that when the lawn mower is going, I can’t hear him until it’s turned off again. “Why not?” he usually asks. I tell him it’s too loud. Last time I said it, he replied, “but I can hear what I’m saying, Daddy!”

Part of me will be sad when he’s old enough that the concept of sound and how loud he needs to make himself makes more sense to him. While it’s not always easy or less than ear-grating for him to use inside voices outside or outside voices inside, it constantly makes me laugh. And I’m going to miss that one day.

PS. What are your experiences with kids and their outside/inside voices? Do you remember your parents using those phrases? What do you find yourself saying when your kids get a little too loud or talk a little too quietly?

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