Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cry the Beloved Snoodie

Back when Snoodie was born, I clearly remember thinking that there could be NO sound more soul-crushing, NO noise more harrowing, than the cry of a newborn baby.

It is only now, that I have a 20-month-old, that I realize how silly that was.

For truly, the newborn cry has NOTHING on the deafening caterwaul of the angry toddler. Much like an American tourist abroad, the Snood seems to believe that the only reasonable response to not being understood is to continually up his volume. As if the only reason we are having trouble understanding him is that CLEARLY he must not be speaking loudly enough.

This puts David and I on what we refer to as the "comprehension countdown" (i.e. the amount of time we have to figure out what the heck Snoodie wants before he melts down in nuclear fashion.)

For example, Snoodie walks into a room and announces that he would like something by saying a word at a fairly reasonable volume. Let's say, for the sake of argument,


This causes David and I to look towards each other in sheer desperation,

ME: "Any idea what that means?"
DAVID: "I got nothing."
ME: "Oh no! We're screwed."
DAVID: "Maybe he wants to sing something?"
ME: (to Snood, hopefully) "Do you want to sing?"

There is a pause before Snoodie speaks for a second time, with diminishing patience,


Uh, oh. We have guessed wrong. The Snood does not want to sing, but neither of us has any idea of what he does want. Sip of water, listen to a CD, and look at his songbook ALL turn out to be wrong guesses. AND WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!

Having found himself unable to communicate what he seems to feel is a simple request, the Snood is growing increasingly agitated. We watch in terror as he balls up his fists, knowing this can only mean he's gathering all his strength to repeat over and over at top volume, "SIN-GE, SIN-GE, SIN-GE!!!"

We continue guessing what he might be after furiously until finally (with the help of Snoodie's frantic miming) figuring out that Snoodie would like to head outside and go on the swing.

And peace is restored!

For a while, we had hoped that we might be able to stave off these sorts of explosions by focusing on teaching the Snood some specific words. Like, for example, "HELP".

Wow, that was really not a good idea.

The result was that, from every corner of the house, a single cry now rings out all day long....


...because after 45 seconds of playing with it Snoodie has gotten his pushcart stuck in the corner of the playroom.


...because Snoodie has been foiled in his single-minded attempt to reach the box of Cheerios that I have mistakenly left out in his sightline.


...because Snoodie desperately wants Blue Bear, who has become trapped deep within the confines of the crib.

We have accidentally given the dictator limitless power over us, his loyal minions, by providing him with the ability to actually scream demands at will.

But, fear not! Just as every cloud has a silver lining, every terrifying childhood phase has an EXTREMELY well-hidden upside...

You see, in comparison to this constant barrage of angry demands for aid from the Snood, the cry of the Crinkles is music to my very ears. That gentle and lovely "Wah!' is practically soothing from my newborn.

Or at least it is when I can make it out over the deafening cries of: