I came home from the hospital with my baby having read that I would instinctively know what was wrong with him by the sound of his cry. I, for one, did not believe this. I had heard babies crying before and to me it sounded like someone cleaning a chalkboard with a wire grill brush. Never once have I ever heard a baby crying that I said: “What I think I hear you saying is that you’d like to have your diaper changed.” What I have said is, “Please, someone make that noise stop!” I am convinced that God builds babies with the ability to communicate. I’m not sure he built me with the ability to translate.
Even before bringing Sean home from the hospital, I knew that babies did three things: eat, poop and sleep, usually in that order. And I knew that if the order were to get messed up, they would cry. Loud. Until you put the ice cream down and got off the sofa and did something about it. I had a dog, and she did pretty much the same thing. Since there were only the three things, which I already knew about from the dog, I had a one in three chance of correctly assessing the situation. And so, with the aid of my instincts, the expert advice of the many books I had read and help from the dog, I could usually figure out what was going on by the third try. As it turns out, crying and barking basically mean the same thing: Do something. NOW. Or it will get louder until your eardrums explode.
Now that Sean is out of the infant stage, his needs are far more complex as are his communication skills. Regular crying is reserved for minor bumps and boo-boo’s. Shrieking like he was about to be carried off by a flying monkey covers most other occasions. Most occassions meaning anything from “I’m about to be carried off by a flying monkey!” to “I can’t get my sock off.” Sean and I have also both learned some rudimentary sign language which I figure will be helpful in the likely event that he renders me deaf in the not so distant future. Along with that, he is beginning to make talking sounds, some of which even sound like words, albeit Czechoslavakian words. But at this point, his ability to communicate is still beyond my ability to translate. This morning, this exchange made me feel like a contestant on Jeopardy:
Sean: Scheepdow. Boo!
AM: What is Sheep Ow? A sheep is hurt? You frightened a sheep?
Sean: Scheep-DOW….. Boo!
AM: What is “A scared sheep fell down?”
Sean: SCHEEP-DOW (you idiot).
Pats the floor and hands me a book. “Boo.”
AM: Sit Down! Book! — What is “Sit Down. Book?!”
Unable to contain myself, I did a little end-zone style victory dance, high-fived Sean and then we scheeped dow and read a boo. Just warming up for the Double Jeopardy round after naptime.