There is nothing that illuminates one’s weakness and inability in quite the same manner as a screaming infant. All of our education, intelligence, socialization, spiritual centeredness, and compassion is quickly eroded as the screaming continues, then escalates. We try every trick, every position, every intervention possible, and we are powerless. On and on, the child wails away in utter indifference to our efforts. If we’re lucky, they finally stop, though we may never understand why. Like highway traffic that vexes and perplexes us, it is best not to ask why, but to just give thanks that we can get on with life again.
This latest child is not averse to protracted periods of hollering (to put it mildly). What’s worse –and to our chagrin– she is immune to the many nifty tricks that worked on the previous kids. We’ve prided ourselves on our repertoire of positions, patterns, sways, and songs that quiet the roar and bring the ultimate satisfaction: a baby that is completely limp in your arms, breathing deep and regular. But none of that stuff works here– once the burps and flatulence have been expelled and the diapers have been filled, Lucia wants nothing but nothingness. Just a firm, gentle hug with legs bent up and hands held at her chest. Nothing more, and nothing less. It might take an hour, and songs and patting and shushing only prolong it. We bring all of ourselves and our love and expertise to the table, yet she’d be much happier with a straitjacket.
When she needs such treatment in the middle of the night, it’s easy to despair. So instead of staring at the clock and slowly going insane, I choose to turn on the TV (thank the Good Lord, and bless the hands that made it). At 4am, there isn’t much on our commercial channels except infomercials, so I tend to linger on the Public Television offerings. Over the last week, I’ve been informed about coffee, murderous monkeys, quick Italian soups, plate-sized tarantula spiders, pre-Hispanic Mexicans, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember. It’s a small consolation.