Last week, something so terrifying happened that it hasn’t taken me a week and a half to be able to write about it.

It was Wednesday evening. We went to Dairy Queen with Andy’s family. A Little League team was celebrating its season at this same DQ location, and there were dozens of seven-year-old boys running around the store. Our one-year-old niece Aubrey was in a high chair concentrating on her chocolate ice cream and minding her own business. The boys continued to run about, treating the arrangement of tables like an obstacle course. On each lap, the stream of boys seemed to get closer and closer to Aubrey’s high chair.

Finally, I had had enough.

“Please be careful,” I said with a raised voice and pursed lips.

Here’s where it gets scary. The voice that came out of my mouth was not mine. It was my mother’s. It wasn’t one of those “that’s something Mom would say” times. No, it was as is my mom were saying it, with her voice.

This has never happened to me before. In the moment, I shook it off. My sisters-in-law, among them Aubrey’s mother, nodded at me in appreciation. Clearly, they wanted the boys to stop running so close to Aubrey, too. Probably, they could’ve spoken to them in their own voices, though.

In the days since this incident, I have examined my voice in various situations, and I’ve found that I sound like me nearly all of the time. I do not find myself admonishing very often. It isn’t in my nature to scold, but it’s even more not in my nature to let unruly boys high on sugar knock over my niece’s high chair. The latter trumps the former, I guess. Perhaps because I am not naturally a scolder, in order to effectively deliver a short reprimand, I have to summon up a voice that knows how to do it.

What have I learned from this experience?

Do I need to figure out my own scolding voice? How would I do that?

Do I need to come up with an alternative to scolding so that I don’t have to step outside my comfort zone? How would I do that?

Is this probably going to happen again? Yes.