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
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
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.