We rely immensely on our ability to speak. While the majority of our communication happens without a word being said- for example through body language- language is still our favourite way to communicate, and the one we consider the most important.
And, as it often happens, never has it occurred to me how important spoken language is until…two days ago, I totally lost my voice due to a sore throat. A very, very sore throat. I can’t speak, or I’ll end up doubled over in a violent coughing fit. This, I must say, makes communication rather troublesome.
For starters, I am feeling as if I am enclosed in a bubble of silence. I feel ignored because I can’t answer questions properly, and I can’t make my wishes clear without having to rely on pointing or other gestures. All the time, I have to think whether it is really necessary that I say something and how can I say that without using too many words.
And this is for adults only. An adult will understand what it means when I point to my throat. But a child won’t. And Klara, being a very talkative little girl, asks me all types of questions. And this is where it gets tricky. I told her that I can’t speak because my throat hurts. But while she knows what pain is, and she knows where her throat is, she doesn’t understand that I am really not supposed to talk at the moment. It pains me that I can’t answer all of her questions, read books to Julia to teach her new vocabulary. I know about the importance of starting talking to children early, and it pains me just as much when I am alone with Markian, and I look into his little blue eyes, and I want to tell him that I am his mommy and that I love him very much. But I can’t. So we spend a lot of time in silence, he and me.
Not being able to speak makes me very feel very vulnerable. I see that I am more confused when people talk to me than usually, especially when they talk Dutch. I can’t call my parents and complain to them about losing my voice because the telephone relies on voice.
But I’ve also come to enjoy the silence. Not having to talk to people can be very enjoyable! Today, when I went outside for grocery shopping and some sunshine, an older lady started to talk to me. She talked and talked and talked. I tried to be polite and listen for a while, and tried to nod wherever appropriate. However, I soon realised that I had no idea what she was talking about, as she spoke very fast Dutch. I then apologised, and pointing to my throat explained that I really can’t talk to her right now. And then I just left.
At home, whenever I have to speak to the children, I have to whisper. And then, the children whisper back. I just need to say “no” and it is understood. No explanations needed. So, it is very quiet when they’re at home. Also, I’ve noticed how many times the girls come to me with a problem that they are suddenly able to solve without my help. Magic!
So, there are definitely some benefits of not being able to talk for a while, but I really hope that I will get my voice back real soon.