Issue 32

Thank God You're Screaming


                It doesn’t take long to realize that a child was much easier to take care of yesterday.  I can remember hearing Rebecca whisper under her breath about how she couldn’t wait for Skylar to be born, that she couldn’t stand being pregnant another minute because she couldn’t sleep.  Foolishly, we hoped, things would change once he arrived.  Things did change, like Rebecca slept even less because she was breastfeeding every few hours, all day and all night long.

                Fortunately, there’s always the hope that things will change again for the better.  I can remember hearing Rebecca whisper under her breath that she wished Skylar could hold his bottle for himself.  Slowly we worked with him and his finger control.  We could tell he wanted to be able to do it so badly.  Finally the day came when he could hold the bottle for himself.  That was also the same day he was able to reach up, remove Rebecca’s glasses, and break them.  Since then he has discovered how to open drawers filled with deadly kitchen utensils, how to make the same sound on his electronic toy until God has the mercy to make the batteries die, and, joy of joys, take off his diaper all by himself.  I still have the bruise from the morning we foolishly laid our son in bed between us with one of his hard plastic rattles.  With a single random flailing of his arm, Skylar was able to wake us both from deep REM sleep when he cracked me in the crown of my nose and nailed Rebecca in the eye.

                A pattern is starting to become clear to me with each of these changes for a hopeful better.  Skylar is now clearly on the path to learning how to walk.  He can already crawl, albeit backwards only, and is able to back himself up until he is trapped in the jaws of his changing table.  Even in his untraditional mode of traveling he has discovered every tasty paper clip I have ever lost in my life. Setting him facing the door to his bedroom, I figured he could only move himself further back into his room while I took advantage of a three-minute run down to the basement to move laundry into the dryer.  I didn’t realize there was a spin cycle on Skylar as well, as I discovered when I returned and he was somehow out in the hall, right at the edge of the stairs.  It is a foolish pipe dream, I know, to wish that things could be like the past, when I could lay him down on my bed and be able to come back 20 minutes later to find him in exactly the same spot.

                Just yesterday I sat Skylar in the easy chair while I changed a CD.  I turned to see Skylar filled with curiosity as he leaned forward to see what was over the edge of the chair.  It was like being in a movie, with Dad-cam rolling: slow-motion and you just can’t move fast enough.  As he fell head-first, I remembered the words of my brother as he explained to me that children lose an IQ point every time they land on their heads.  There was the horrible thump as Skylar’s head hit the floor, then an infinity of silence.

                Silence.  Each night I pray as I lay in bed for a sound no louder than his gentle breathing while he sleeps.  We can’t go to movies anymore because Skylar has become a chatterbox as he cycles through his ba-ba, da-da, and ma-ma repertoire.  And then there are the screaming fits when he is teething where my heart breaks for him as my mind shatters over and over again like Promethean glass.  Silence.  It seems to be only a distant memory of my past.  But at this moment, silence equals terror.

                I hear his scream, and then I can finally breath again.  I pick Skylar up and soothe him.  Rebecca rushes into the room because this is the first time we have heard this particular cry; it is one of those firsts neither one of us feels the urge to run and get the camera for.  We both hold Skylar, and I thank God that he is screaming.  For despite all the noise and chaos he brings, my life is so much richer for his being a part of it.

                I look at Rebecca, and she looks at me.  I see her lips move as she quietly whispers under her breath.  I cannot hear her words for Skylar’s 100 decibel screams are about an inch from my left, almost deaf, ear.  But I can read her lips because I’m thinking exactly the same thing:

                When do we have the next one?


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