Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Voice of the People

Or rather, just me.

Or rather, NOT me.

Because I don't have one. Not having a voice (yes, literally) is very strange. I am a walking game of charades, and people didn't even know they were playing. Yes, I can whisper, but it hurts. The doctor advised me to do so as little as possible and instead write everything down. That works super for my eight month and four year old. Wait, if I can write everything in three letter words with short vowel sounds, and only two words at a time, maybe the four year old will communicate on my behalf to the eight month old?

People speaking to me either whisper or begin pantomiming things back to me. The grocery store clerk mouthed silently, "IS PLASTIC OK?", eyebrows raised, mouth wide, pointing to the bags in a motion that involved his whole arm and upper torso. Did he think I was deaf? I was making great use of my Sign Language for Babies knowledge to talk to Zack while waiting in line. But, that still doesn't make sense because if I can read lips, surely his response was the equivalent of shouting English to a Spanish speaker.

I was briefly watching four young children in a hotel lobby yesterday while feeding my younger son his solid food. A recipe for disaster, you say? I whispered instructions to them and a complete round of whispered crawl-tag-hide-and-seek ensued. It was the quietest play I've ever seen. They are usually pretty well behaved, but there would have been no way I could have instructed them to whisper the whole time and thought they would be able to stick to it.

The phone is the biggest challenge. I need it. I want it. I apparently cause fiascoes without it.

Today I was supposed to pick up a Pack and Play for use during my sister and nephew's visit from a handy spot at our church. The owner of the item was going to be across the street anyway, so he left it there for me. I told my husband this morning that I would go and get it when I picked up Zack from school. When I arrived there was no Pack and Play. I found the janitor to ask (with great whispering and gesturing) him if he had moved it, but he hadn't. I went back to the car to call the owner (maybe he left it elsewhere?) and discovered I had forgotten my phone. ARGH. I had put in on the charger without setting the charger on my purse (my usual failsafe) because I wasn't all that convinced it was going to be any use to me today anyway. So I lugged the baby across the street and up two flights of stairs to find my friend, who came back with me to look for it. We looked everywhere we could think of. NO Pack and Play. We ended up in the church office asking the bookkeeper if she had seen it and we all sadly concluded that it had been stolen. From a church! Sheesh! At this point I was very late to get Zack from school. I really only had time to run in, nab the item, and head to school, so after the hard target search, I'm late, panicked, guilt-ridden and sweating. I made a hasty and apologetic goodbye and jumped in the car, plotting how I am going to get a Pack and Play for my nephew to sleep in by tonight, and how I'm going to replace the stolen one for my friends. I pull up at school a full fifteen minutes late. They charge by the minute, so that's a $15 late fine. Plus, I'm picturing his teachers standing with the one abandoned preschooler, calling me and not getting me, trying to reassure a crying Zack that his mommy would come soon. I tear into the parking lot, leap out of the car, start to jerk the baby out of his carseat, when what do I see? Zack is standing, holding hands with his grandmother, under a shady tree. I'm a little paralyzed by confusion. Did they call her, failing to reach me? Now my poor mothering has pulled in extended family to compensate! And wait, how did she get here so fast?

I begin to explain how I was at church and got embroiled in a search for a Pack and Play but that it had been stolen when she stops me, confessing she "had tried to help but had messed everything up". SHE had the Pack and Play! The phone log tells the true story.

I had six missed calls, three voicemails and three text messages. She had called me, realized I couldn't talk, and called my husband to see if she could help us by bringing the Pack and Play to our house or to Zack's school. He said Yes, please (uh... what was the point of my telling him this morning not to worry about the Pack and Play, that I would pick it up when I picked up Zack?) and left me a voicemail and a text for me to this effect. She went to the school and when I didn't show up by two o'clock, went in and picked up Zack. She tried to call again but then had a friend of mine text me that she was there and had gotten Zack. After I arrived, I had her call the church and my friend to say that the Pack and Play had not been stolen after all. All the best intentions, and of course my husband DID tell her yes, so certainly not her fault. Whether it's James' fault, well... I COULD make a case, but I won't. Really. Especially since I am the one always harassing James to keep his phone with him.

Stupid lost voice, and stupid me for leaving my phone at home. At least I don't have to buy two Pack and Plays.


  1. this is so Elaine Benis!!
    I love it.
    --Kristen E.

  2. There is something very postmodern about this story...if a story about pack 'n plays and preschool pick-up can be postmodern. In any case, something about all of the failed communication despite all the access to communication devices is very interesting.

    Hopefully, soon you will be back in action speaking, texting and voicemailing along with the best of 'em!