I am 68 hours into my challenge not to speak to Peter in an exasperated tone of voice.
It had hit me that his own voice of frustration, which has been irritating me to no end, had to come from somewhere. Perhaps he learned it at school. Perhaps it's just part of human nature. The more likely scenario, though, is that he picked it up from the person with whom he spends most of his time. Who am I to say, "Speak nicely please-- I do not like that tone of voice" when I am guilty myself?
With four hours left, I've done well. There have been a few instances when I started his name with an frustrated "Pe-" but caught myself by the end of his name with a falsetto "-ter." I've also noticed what triggers me, like when he makes a loud noise, particularly if his sister is sleeping, or when he stalls after I've given him instructions.
Peter, meanwhile, is less combative than he was three days ago. Is it a fluke? Like a lot of kids his age, he slips in and out of moods so inexplicably, it's hard to tell. Yet I do know that "a harsh word stirs up anger, but a soft anger turns away wrath." As long I as speak in an angry, impatient tone, I can expect the same in return. If I can soften my responses, then maybe, just maybe, I can soothe his stormy blasts. Some of them, anyway.