This morning, I was getting ready upstairs, when I realized Emily would need me to spray some styling gel in her hair before we left for the hairdresser to get her coiffed for the prom.
I called down the stairs, "Emily, could you come here for a minute, please?"
She came pounding up the stairs, her eyes wide.
"I need to spray some goop in your hair before it dries so it will hold the style," I told her.
"Oh, good! I thought I was in trouble!" she said with relief.
"Did I sound like I was mad?" I asked.
"Well, since you never yell when you're mad, I can't tell if you sound mad or not. You sound the same all the time. I never know if you're calling me up here to tell me a joke or to tell me to pick up my clothes off the floor. You should yell at us when you're angry so we know. You never yell at us and now I can't tell when you're angry and it's probably warped my sense of how people interact with one another and you've probably ruined me, you know."
"By never yelling at you?"
"By never yelling at me."
So if anyone ever overhears me screeching at my kids like a banshee, it's not because I'm mean. It's because we are doing an in-depth study on elements of conflict and exchange in sociocultural interaction norms in America.