My son is driving me crazy.
He is screaming in his crib. Ive tried all the standard
procedures, like making a bottle, changing his diaper, burping him,
checking for a new tooth, making a penguin talk. Nothing works.
Hes too old for colic, so I cant even chalk this fit up to that
mysterious catch-all. If a salesman were to knock on my front door
and offer me a great deal on insanity, I would take it.
Perhaps Im already there. Before Skylar was born, Rebecca and I
agreed that It is never the babys fault. Think about it:
how can you blame a six-month old for the fact that youre an hour late
to a family dinner? The age of reason hasnt exactly kicked in.
Sure, a poopy diaper may be ill-timed or a bottle forgotten so I have to
drive back home, but really, thats my problem as a parent. Its
my insane belief that diapers should be filled only at times convenient to
me or that babies do not go from happy to ballistically hungry in a
fraction of a second, especially if I cant find an open grocery store.
But the screaming. This doesnt happen often, and knowing that is
sometimes the only way I think I can survive to the next moment. My
thoughts are shattered before I can have them. I can feel my
perspective warp as the image of my beautiful child morphs into a demon
from the deepest level of hell. He becomes the Thief of Time, the
Destroyer of Dreams. I know Ive had time to do what I want
I cover my ears to block out his crying. I feel like I
havent had a moment to myself in months.
What does he want from me? This is a dangerous question to ask,
because you never stop asking it, even after your children are thirty.
I know because my parents are still asking it. I can hear the echo
of my fathers favorite curse: I hope you have children just like
you. He must had days like this. I discover I have a new
bond with my father.
I look deep into Rebeccas eyes. We hold a brief but silent
negotiation. Its based on who is closer to going over the edge.
That person gets to go outside or stare mindlessly into the fish tank.
The other, only slightly more sane person gets to try the impossible
again. Ours eyes flash and the evaluation is over: tonight its my
turn to be hero.
I stand outside the door to his room, putting my hand on the wood to feel
the vibrations from his voice. Where is the hidden strength that is
supposed to suddenly come with being a parent? Where is the book
that explains it all? There is no answer to my questions. I am
I turn my ears off as I open the door, a talent I am not sure how to
explain. Inside, I can see Skylar working himself into a feverish
pitch. Amazingly, he is able to actually increase the intensity of
his screams. The dog begins to howl. As I pick Skylar up, I
have a horrible thought:
I dont want to be around my son.
Being a parent was supposed to glorious, and Ive never felt this low in
my life before. I lift Skylar carefully, then hold him against my
chest. As I sit in the rocking chair, stroking his hair, I wonder
what its going to be like when hes five, sixteen, thirty.
Ive heard that the horrors of having a teenager are even worse than
when they are toddlers. I imagine that so very far away day.
Thats when hell hurt me most, I know, that period of time when he
doesnt want to be around me. What an irony, that when I want to
hold him most, I wont be able to, and now when I dont want to hold
him is when he needs me most.
It makes me want to close my eyes and build a time machine around myself,
changing places with that self of the future. I hug Skylar
intensely, and then I send that hug to him in that distant time so many
For a moment I wonder what will happen.
I can suddenly feel the silence. Skylar has calmed. The hug
continues, it will never stop, and I realize that the hug is still in my
arms, that it never left. Traveling through time was nothing like I
thought it would be. But I have no care for the details of how I
will get back.
I am exactly when I need to be.