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Posted by on February 5, 2013

Most of the kids at my volunteer gig are of a similar age, somewhere between seven and ten, but a very few are as young as six. It can be a bit tough to get the young ones to conform to some of the more abstract rules. For example: keeping your voice down in the homework room. It’s hard to explain to a little kid whose homework is just coloring that older kids need a quiet space so they can concentrate. It’s even harder to explain this while trying to keep my own voice quiet, and being interrupted several times during each sentence by the little kid cheerfully shouting “What?” as I whisper too low. I’m never too sure how much of my “sympathy for others” lecture they’re understanding, especially as they just wait for me to walk away from the table and then return to singing or yammering at top volume or whatever they were doing before.

Yesterday was a good example of this — I spent at least half an hour repeatedly trying to encourage a six year old to keep your voice down, try to whisper, no singing in homework room, let’s try to be quiet now. Finally as she was leaving, something clicked in her brain, and she came over in an exaggerated tiptoe walk to put her markers away next to where I was sitting.

“Shh,” she whispered to me. “We have to be very quiet.”

“That’s right,” I whispered back.

“So that we don’t wake up the aliens,” she whispered quite seriously.

I’m so curious which part of my speech she heard as don’t wake the aliens. I briefly considered correcting this error, and then I gave up. “That’s right,” I whispered. “The aliens are exhausted. Good work.”

Also, whenever one of them yells “WHAT?” at me as I’m whispering, I think of this.

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