Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Language Class on the Crying Baby

On my way to my second class this morning, I walked down the hallway of the languages department. There were signs on the door for all sorts of language classes, including sign language. In particular, there was a mildly clever sign that said "End noise pollution - learn to sign."

A little more than a month ago, our house could hardly be accused of noise pollution. My husband and I are both quiet talkers who spend the bulk of our days in our heads. Now, our newest little roommate has made our once quiet house a house of rampant noise pollution. Newborns cry. A lot.

I cannot quite describe the first month with Atticus mostly because I was too tired to really experience it in any cognitive way. But every day, Atticus grows and changes and develops and we grow and change and develop with him. I am finally starting to understand the language of his crying, little by little.

His short little stunted cry, the "eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh" cry where it sounds like he's revving up for his next breath is my favorite. It's so desperate and passionate and fully committed. I love it.

He has a little pathetic cry that matches his sweetly sympathetic eyes perfectly. That cry makes me want to hold him forever and just kiss away every imperfection in life. It's a quiet cry, usually murmurred into my shoulder.

It's the open volcano of a cry that I still cannot always interpret. Sometimes it's a cry for hunger, sometimes for sleep, sometimes for belly aching. But sometimes, there's that loud pissed off wail of a cry that cannot be comforted away or translated in any productive way. It just needs to storm thunderously out of him and there's no amount of walking or back patting we can do to relax his rigid body as the cry tornadoes its way forth.

The only cry I hate is the random, quick shreik that jolts him from sleep sometimes. The first time we heard it, my husband said it sounded like night terrors. It's so sudden and high-pitched and terrible that I don't want it to belong to Atticus. There's just something prescient and unkind and knowing about it. It doesn't belong to a baby. I don't want it to belong to my baby.

I want him to have different cries that have meanings and declensions - cries that can be discussed for their past participability and contribution to the greater vocabulary of crying. I want to break down his cries like language and hear them for what they are. I want to know what they mean so I can have a conversation with him that shows I am listening and that I want to respond to him in an appropriate kind of way. I am learning little by little Atticus's language and as sweet as some of his little cries are, I cannot wait until the cries are replaced by words.


Anonymous said...

I can not help but think the scary cry is the one that says "I was comfie in the womb. Warm, safe, dark and well fed. Why did you make me leave that place"? This from the woman who has never had a baby. Anyway, that is what I think....Blynn

B. Marzoni said...

oh honey. sigh.