On the first day of kindergarten this year, my grandson’s teacher wanted them to practice various levels of appropriate vocal expression. Level two, she explained, is for outside voices, level one, inside voices, and level zero, complete silence. He raised his hand and asked, “Do I have to be silent in my mind?”

The veteran teacher said that was a first for her. But I thought it was a most excellent question.

Because, as I told him later, nobody can control what you are thinking, not always even yourself, I’m sorry to say. Sitting in silence isn’t an easy skill for a little kid but its lifelong value is priceless. Learning to wrestle noisy, turbulent thoughts into submission can be both a struggle and an amazing superpower. And it’s clearly a skill that’s in serious short supply these days.

Not to sound like such a Boomer, but there was a time when you didn’t spout every random thought that flitted across your brain. Taking a few beats to formulate a response indicated thoughtful deliberation and a respectful attitude toward your fellow man.

But that quaint notion doesn’t seem to apply in the current climate where we seem to be playing a perpetual school yard game of Red-Rover, Red-Rover, send your insult right over.

“So,” my grandchild clarified, “I should keep my thoughts in?” Which is how this terrific kid is wired: He’s a thinker and a deliberator and not a blurter- outer. Of course, it’s not healthy to keep all your feelings tucked into a little box like my generation was taught to do. We’ve learned, though, that it’s okay to filter thoughts through a few criteria.

I love the Zen Taoism Buddhism list that instructs you on when to choose silence. There’s one that urges silence in the heat of anger and my favorite; “be silent if you may have to eat your words later.”

I used to have a sticky note on my laptop that asked, Is it kind? Is it true?

It’s remarkable how few regrets one has when those two questions are activated before speaking.

Remarkable and difficult.

My husband contends that while I may be good at using my inside voice regarding inappropriate thoughts or feisty opinions, there’s a disconnect between my facial expression and what I’m trying to keep suppressed. Even when I sit silently through someone’s unhinged rant or disordered argument, my face yells back at them, no matter how quiet I remain. I don’t know where the Zen list of how to control a rebellious eyebrow is, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

Like I said, it’s a struggle and a life-long self-improvement project that has its successes and failures.

Meanwhile, when our two little guys visit their Mimi and Pop this weekend, they can holler as much as their little hearts desire. I’m not enforcing any version of thoughtful silence or filtering of expressions. In fact, I’m hoping to experience the supposedly epic meltdowns the three-year-old’s been having —complete with high-decibel screeching. I say ‘hoping’ because it’s not something I’ve witnessed previously when taking care of this little angel.

“That’s crazy,” my daughter says. “What about when you tell him no?”

“Well, honey, we don’t say that,” I reply.

Let the wild rumpus start!