Monday, January 6, 2020

Teenage Loudness

I had mentioned not too long ago that Michael's voice changed. This is hardly unexpected for a boy of fifteen. At some point, they all go through that transformation from child to man, and for some it is more rapid than others.

What I cannot understand, though, is what happened to his volume control.

The change in pitch I get: you get bigger, your resonant chamber grows and responds to deeper notes, your vocal chords elongate and vibrate slower. That all makes sense.

But the sudden, dramatic change in his loudness is what's puzzling me.

Whereas before he used a vocal level that was comfortably resting within the bounds of what we all have agreed to as an "inside voice", now his normal conversational level is somewhere around "chainsaw at two feet". In the space of less than a week he went from 5 to 11 on the volume knob.

It's amazing. Just listening to him at the dinner table is uncomfortable as he practically shouts at us, though he's less than 22 inches from my eardrums.

I have to constantly remind him to take it down a few notches. Of course, he responds to this admonition by producing the loudest whisper that is possible to make by the human larynx.

Some evenings his mom and I head upstairs early after having been worn to the nub by our respective workplaces (the fact that we're over 50 has nothing to do with it of course). Michael will remain downstairs "getting ready for bed" by singing, chasing the cats or hollering at whatever video game he's currently playing. And all of this sonic pressure blasts its way upstairs, making it nearly impossible for my wife and me to hold a conversation, despite a floor separation and a closed door. I am forced to storm downstairs and remind him yet again that he needs to tone it down and be considerate.

Naturally he has to whisper back: "OK!"

I suppose this is a normal teenage boy thing, and like every other phase will pass along into memory. But it sure is hard on my ears.

I wonder if they make those sound cancelling headphones in something that fits over a mouth.

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