Last month, when I was in Las Vegas on assignment, I went for a hike in Red Rock Canyon with one of my editors, Jim, who just happened to be in town. It was a lovely day, clear and on that fine line between warm and cool that is perfect for desert hiking. The terrain itself wasn’t too challenging, but at one point Jim slipped a little and I called out, “Be careful!’
It was, I instantly realized, the exact tone of voice I use all the time with Sasha. And, I know, this wasn’t the first time I’d spoken to an adult the way I speak to my daughter. Throughout the winter, whenever I’ve traversed the schmutzy streets of New York with a friend, that “Be careful!” has come out of my mouth, as if it really will remind them to watch their step.
And this will likely go on for a while, even though I can’t stand it. I hate breaking into that sing-song voice so many adults use with their kids, but there’s almost no way to avoid it. It certainly doesn’t help that my voice is already annoyingly nasal, and that raising it a register and saying stupid things everyone already knows, in a reduced grammar, just makes people more nuts than usual.
Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe, like most of my parenting anxieties, this is all in my head, and that everyone around me just shrugs off the dad-voice. That wouldn’t surprise me.
Anyway, the pain-in-the-ass dad-voice does come in handy with Sasha, particularly when she’s misbehaving. Because that’s when I can drop it down an octave and say forcefully, with no cheery room for doubt, “Sasha, hold my hand!” or “Sasha, stop!” But please, my friends, let me know if I start speaking that way with you. Then I’ll just shoot myself.