A famous 19th century Impressionist painting entitled The Scream by Edvard Munch has been one of my favorite pieces of artwork forever. If you have ever taken an art history class or left your house, you probably know of it:
It is said that the haunted looking figure in the foreground is inspired by a Peruvian mummy, but over the past week, it has reminded me of another kind of mummy. Namely me. Wide-eyed, distressed look on face? Check. Hands covering the ears? Check. Dressed all in black? For today at least. Bald head?
Possibly. If things don’t change soon, I’m bound to start pulling out my hair.
So what has me comparing myself to this pale, terrified-looking wraith? It’s the Scream. How such an extreme level of noise can possibly come out of a person so small is beyond me. I have no idea how any glass items in our home are still in tact. We are now on Day 6 of Betty exercising her vocal cords in the most shrill, ear-ringing, headache-inducing way possible, and me tearfully pleading with her to keep it down even though I know she has no concept of what an “inside voice” is.
I should probably mention that she’s not just screaming because she’s necessarily sad or upset about anything, though she does it then too. She’s just SCREAMING. About everything. All the time. Happy? Screaming. Bored? Screaming. Hungry? Screaming. Excited? Screaming. Sleepy? You get the idea.
In the blink of an eye, I feel like I’ve gone from having the well-mannered, social baby that everyone ooohs and ahhhs over to having “that kid”. We all know “that kid”. That’s the kid you don’t want to sit near in restaurants and definitely not on an airplane. (Thank god we have no plans for air travel anytime soon.) I think I’ve apologized to people more times in the past week than I have since she was born. I know they understand and that this kind of thing isn’t unheard of; it’s just such a new thing for me. Betty is a chatty baby, but was never especially loud before now. Loud would be more manageable. The Scream is so bad sometimes that I feel like it could crack my teeth. Plus it’s unpredictable and has scared the crap out of me on more than one occasion.
Frankly, it blows.
Unfortunately (and I guess fortunately) The Scream is age and developmentally appropriate. She is doing this because she wants to communicate with me. Also I think she just really likes the sound of her own voice, and thinks that everyone else should like it too. Seeing as she’s only 9 months old, I can only say “no” firmly until I’m blue in the face and it’s most likely not going to make a damn bit of difference (and just be met more screaming).
So this morning at breakfast, I tried a new tactic. Sign. Signing wasn’t part of my original plan as she goes to daycare all day Monday thru Friday and I wasn’t sure how consistent we could be with it. Besides, Betty has always been very verbal and I naively figured that she would be talking before the signs became all that necessary. Because she screams in any and every situation, I don’t know how being able to sign “more” and “all done” is really going to help, but at this point I’m willing to try anything just to make it stop.
I’ve got my Baby Signs book, my earplugs, and my sanity by a thread. Let’s do this. Wish me luck. (I need it.)