Thursday, October 04, 2007

a little perspective

If there was any doubt about my sanity in the past, I would just like to remove it – or rather, to remove the doubts about the doubts. On top of working and volunteering and trying to be the sort of Mum to the spud who isn’t found face down in a puddle of vodka at 9am by social services, I agreed last night at short notice to take in another 1 year old baby for the three hours which span dinner time, bath time and bed time. I mean, I always wanted twins, how hard could it be?

Now, this baby is very cute indeed. She’s walking and saying ‘och’ and ‘wow’ at everything and she has a very big gummy grin – and, crucially, the spud thinks she’s ok and doesn’t try to steal her toys and then bash her about with them. I also realised having managed to hold on to a little of the sense God gave me, that this would not be easy however at least it would be short-lived.

What I didn’t realise is how truly distraught a small girl can get without her Mum – and, what a truly, ear-crushingly awe-inspiring sound a baby can actually make. I mean, I’ve had a baby now for an entire year and I thought I had heard it all.

The spud makes what I refer to as ‘That Sound’, as in ‘please stop making That Sound sweetie, Mummy can’t bear it’ or ‘We don’t respond to That Sound so please stop making it’ and other phrases all containing the words ‘please stop’ and normally heralding the onset of a white-noise headache.

It’s a sort of siren-y sound, although the sort of siren designed to keep sailors OFF the rocks rather, unfortunately, than to lure them sweetly onwards. It has the piercing quality of a dental drill but with a deeper, more open bottom note, hints of car-horn and delicate, nasal overtones. A fruity little sound indeed and one honed over many months to generate the fastest response from all parental units within earshot, which is most of South London on a good day.

When the spud makes That Sound I take a very deep breath and shout try very hard to modulate my voice to calming tones while not otherwise responding, on the theory that if That Sound doesn’t get him anywhere, eventually he’ll grow out of it like an old sleep=suit.

Compared, however, to the unspeakable blast emanating from the lungs of this sweet baby girl who is possibly only half his size, That Sound is a Mozart string quartet with Yo-Yo Ma on cello and Vanessa Mae on violin. At the slightest hint of a thwart – the spud looking the other way, the cat sitting out of reach, she would open her mouth and utter a noise so tremendous that even Sammy, who is profoundly deaf, would look up at her and twitch his whiskers. She can yell so loud that her entire body vibrates with it and more than that, she can yell on two notes at once like a fog-horn – one an ear-piercing shriek, the other a rasping, Tom Waits-y growl. I felt awful. Here I was, baby-sitting this sweet little thing and not only would she not drink her bottle or go to sleep, she shrieked herself into hysterics for most of the evening most of the evening. Poor Spud didn’t know what was going on. At first he cried in sympathy but in the end he just stared at her in bemusement, gave me a puzzled look and got on with finishing off his bottle.

By the time her Mum arrived back, her baby was mercifully sleeping on my shoulder, having finally collapsed with a deep sigh after about the 40th verse of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. Handing this adorable little bundle of sleepiness over I confessed all, to be told that in fact, this was fairly normal. I think I may have stood there gaping for a momnt or two too long... I tried not to believe her as this Mum is one of those wonderful , terribly clever Alpha-Mums with bags of style and an easy, unruffled way about her which suggests that in fact she doesn’t spend most of her evenings being experimented upon by sound-wave weaponry. However, the look that flashed across her eyes when she said this suggested that she had certainly experienced the full force once or twice.

As she settled her offspring in for the walk home, I had an overwhelming urge to rush over to the spud, pick him up and tell him that he can make That Sound all he wants – Mummy suddenly doesn’t mind it so much. I guess sometimes a little perspective is a good thing.

25 comments:

Suki said...

Woman, you have officially lost it. Good luck!

PS: Yes, perspective is what you gain when you regain your sanity after nearly losing it. :P

Elsie Button said...

yes perspective is a great thing, and does keep, or make you sane again. Poor you though - at least you could give her back!

What's the weather like in lovely london today? it is glorious here today. i hope it is there too. i love london in this cold sunny weather. The trees are golden and orange, the sky is blue, the sun is out and everyone is happy, and Betty is having a little break from teething YAY!

the mad momma said...

oh yes..perspective. a great thing. like knowing when you've slipped and landed in a puddle of mud that you might have landed face down instead of buttfirst....

Self employed mum said...

It's only when you experience other peoples children do you appreciate your own and obviously you are brining up the spud very well. Seeing laid back mothers is not always a good thing, I generalise, 'they' are usually too soft and their kids run riot. I prefer the harassed, run ragged mothers like myself who have rather well behaved children LOL

Self employed mum said...

PS superb descriptions.

DJ Kirkby said...

'in the end he just stared at her in bemusement, gave me a puzzled look and got on with finishing off his bottle.' Lol, I've known grown men to respond in a similar fashion!

Jonny's Mommy said...

I seriously love your blog. I cringed a bit, however, reading about this little girl as I have been told his is what my little guy sounds like at the sitters. Sure, I've heard it...but my mommy ears have turned it into a white noise of sorts.

Rohini said...

You are funny, and I mean that in the nicest way possible... not to mention brave to take on the baby-sitting

DJ Kirkby said...

P.S. I've given you an award. Happy thanksgiving weekend!

Sparx said...

Suki - in that case I must have BAGS of the stuff!! Good to see you!

Sparx said...

Elsie - lucky you! Spud is majorly teething at the moment, I could use a break as well. The park here is gorgeous at the moment - proper Fall colours and everything! Good to ee you!

Sparx said...

Mad Momma - LOL! Indeed... or knowing that one's offspring was about to sweep all his food off the table... thanks for popping in!

Sparx said...

Self Employed Mum - I think I agree with you - although it's good to be a little laid back sometimes... I don't think my guts could handle the stress of being harried all the time! Thanks!

Sparx said...

DJ - LOL! The Frog acts like that sometimes too... guess I'm stuck with it but I know that you know what I mean! I'll pop over to see you in a bit, thanks! Good to see you this sid of the pond.

Sparx said...

Jonny's Mommy - I'm sure every child has their own 'That Sound' - I hope my ears can turn it into white noise one day... Good to see you back!

Sparx said...

Rohini - thanks, that's so nice of you! I'll pop over soon too.

ilana (Helen) Pengelly said...

Ah yes perspective. Our eldest slept in 20 minute bites interspersed with 30 minutes of screaming until his head was purple -- which was very visible as he was bald as a cue ball -- finally realizing that the bottle was actually in his mouth -- downing it in 30 seconds flat and then inhaling in anticipation of a) another bottle b) another screaming fit until the idiot who provides bottles got the message and got up another one. Then we'd get play time and nappy changing etc and do it all again.

Perspective was the topic right? Yes that's what I got when number 2 came along and slept "through the night" ie longer than 20 minutes at a stretch and politely whimpered when wanting to nurse.

Callum is now 13 and I am finally admitting that he had colic. (Denial was the only thing that got me through it at the time)

Wonder what I'll be admitting to when he's 26?
Blessings & Good Cheer
Helen

lady macleod said...

been there done that. When Q was a bit over one year, I kept my friend's baby while she visited her mum in hospital - it turned into an afternoon into night - ORDEAL. I went home very grateful to the Universe for the child I was given.

Very nice of you to help out.

Shannon said...

I absolutely needed that! I actually brought my hubby out of bed to see what was so funny. It seems that many of the blogs that I keep up with are having trouble finding the humor in it all right now so you are exactly what I needed. A little reminder that life is just funny. Thanks!

jenny said...

Oh yes, That Sound my girls make that is the most miserable sound possible and quickly snaps me to attention. Try multiplying it by 3 little ones who are demanding and a meltdown ensues! Luckily for me, I can turn off my hearing aid and remain calm instead of screaming right back. That actually works on my girls though, when they start That Sound, I tell them, Mama is turning off her hearing aid so I can't hear youuuu! They stop when they know it has no effect.

Sparx said...

Helen - OMG, I never realised... and it sounds like it still stings all these years later! We were lucky in having no colic - and believe me, that's a blessing we counted every night, even on the bad ones.

Sparx said...

Lady M - I do thank the universe on a regular basis for the spud. We know how lucky we are!

Sparx said...

Shannon - seeing the funny side is pretty vital I think - I know I'd go mad if I couldn't! Thanks for coming by!

Sparx said...

Jenny - that's a serious advantage you have there... nice to see you, have you stopped at the shop already?

Bel said...

I don't know if it's true, but I remember something about how parents at first are more affected by their own babies' crying than that of other babies, to make sure they don't neglect their babe for the sake of survival. When the baby grows older, the parents learn the different types of crying, and then the crying of other babies becomes almost inbearable. This because the crying of the other baby is unknown, and the parental instincts come back full force.