Inconsolable II (Letter #020)

Photo of baby Baobao howling.

Howl of the child

My darling Baobao,

Do not go gentle in that good crib
Infancy must rage and weep at close of day;
Rage, rage against sleeping through the night.

— with apologies to to the shade of Dylan Thomas

As I kind of hope you never do learn at first hand, drinkers have a tendency to forget that “one more drink” is often in fact the first of “one drink too many”.

And so, I have learned, it can be with babies. Last night was an excellent (if ear-splitting) case in point.

Photo of Papa Zesser cleaning a fan as baby Baobao oversees.
Baobao oversees man’s work: “Clean faster, Papa, clean faster!”

Yesterday was actually mostly a pretty good day for all of us (if a busy one for yours truly. A pretty full day of “man’s work”: vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the fans for summer, watering the garden, and spending plenty of time with you, too, of course!). Although you woke your mum up around 05:30 (or was it 06:00? I don’t remember, because she gave me the morning off and brought you downstairs for your breakfast; I slept in until about 08:30!), for a wonder you were in super good spirits all day and, better yet, you also took a couple of substantial naps.

Possibly that second nap, two hours or more late in the afternoon and into the early evening, was the cause of the later misery.

Photo of baby Baobao playing in her cage.
Peaceful times, before flood (of tears).

At any rate, you hung out with me for a while in my office, then happily sat in your low chair (the same one in which you had overseen me cleaning our fans for the coming summer) and watched us eat supper.

After that, your mum took you in her arms and fed you as much milk as you would take (which wasn’t actually all that much; after a week and a half of heavy consumption, you seem to have cut back again. We’re guessing you’ve just gone through a growth spurt). Then she took you upstairs, and the two of you enjoyed a delightful 15 or 20 minutes of playful time before she put you to bed.

Before you started to howl.

Howl. There’s really no better word for what you can do with those twin instruments buried inside your little barrel of a chest! When you’re having a good time, you can be subtle about it; but when you’re not happy, everyone knows it.

And when your mum put you in your crib, all the good times we’d had throughout the day might as well have never happened. You howled, and you howled, and you howled. The world might have been coming to an end, or so one might have thought.

(If you by some chance would like a wee taste of just some of the travails you put your doting parents through, click below to listen, and then to keel over with guilt, guilt, guilt!)

In the end, I caved. I went to your crib and picked you up. I crooned to you and I rocked you, and presently I brought you downstairs once more, offered you a dollop of milk, and then Mama Raven said, “Leave her in her chair; if she falls asleep there, I can bring her upstairs.”

And so I did. And, a few minutes later, she quietly ascended with you in her arms and put you down — unknowing — into your own little bed — where for a wonder, you slept through ’til morning for the second night in a row.

Maybe a third night and the ringing in my ears will subside.

Love you always and no matter what, my precious little fire-engine siren!

Papa Zesser


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