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The exhausted dad: Frog throats and other vocal observations

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice Contributor
| November 9, 2022 1:00 AM

My 5-year-old son caught a cold a few days before Halloween. Snot aplenty but otherwise harmless. When he woke up on Halloween, however, his voice sounded… spooky?

“Daaaaaaaaaaaadddddddddd……” he groaned, sounding like a genuine ghoul. “It’s HALLOOOWEEEEENNNNN!”

Up until this point my son rocked a reliably squeaky 5-year-old voice, and, as the youngest in our family of six, he utilizes its adorable qualities to retain his status as Baby of the House.

That morning, however, his voice became an instrument of darkness. The phlegm in his nose and throat lowered his voice into James Earl Jones territory.

When we went trick-or-treating that night, I swear we gave a few neighbors a good fright when my son, dressed as a Ninja Turtle (plus requisite winter coat) knocked on his victims’ doors and bellowed, “TRICK OR TREEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTT” like that moaning ghost from “The Grudge.”

I figured his regular voice would come back in a couple of days. A week later it still hasn’t returned. Have you ever heard a cross between Barry White and Bob Dylan sing the “Paw Patrol” theme song? I have, and, well, it honestly makes the tune more interesting.

Maybe his adorable baby voice will be restored by the time this article publishes, but it’s hardly guaranteed. Do certain cold viruses permanently mutate vocal cords? I remember when my youngest daughter caught her first bug as a baby around 3 or 4 months old. The virus clogged her nose for days and her sweet little baby coos turned into sweet, throaty bellows. Then the coos disappeared forever. From that point on her voice sounded deeper, more nasally and, look, still adorable, but she’s 7 years old now and has the lowest voice in the house.

Voices change as kids grow up obviously, though I maintain that my oldest daughter, 11, sounds almost exactly like she did when she started sassing me at age 2.

“I’m not in trouble, you’re in trouble!” she said to me nine years ago and then probably a 1,000 more times since then. Sounds the same every time.

Puberty will no doubt wreak havoc on the voices in the house as well, and, if I’m a model example of how it’ll go, they can probably expect some awkward squeaks and cracks well into their 30s. My voice cracked during my wedding vows, which of course means there’s video evidence forever of my voice breaking randomly into a Weird Al accordion riff.

And some vocal tics stay hidden under the surface until random moments. I was born and grew up in Idaho, but my dad comes from the Midwest, and, well, let’s just say that Fargo-speak oozes out in me if I spend any time with relatives out there.

My wife also grew up in Idaho, but she was born in Texas and moved up here at a very early age. If she hadn’t told me, I’d never known… until one day, back in college, she ordered something in front of me at the dorm cafeteria.

“Can I get a hot daaaahhhhhhhhgggg?” she said with a signature Southern twang.

Where. Did. That. Come. From? Does she have a secret cowboy hat and an arsenal of revolvers stored away in the garage as well (to be fair, that’d be very Idahoan).

As for my 5-year-old son, the journey to his adult voice is likely far from over. I miss his baby voice because there’s no other sibling behind him to provide it.

He’s so sweet that he frequently tells me, “Dad, I’m a big boy but still your baby.”

It’s just not as convincing when it sounds like Christian Bale’s Batman shaking down a Gotham City perp.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer, full-time student and parent to four kids, ages 5-11. He is tired. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.

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