Thursday, March 29, 2007


It starts as soft whimpering, ah-ah-ah. We take sharp breaths, listen for more sounds. We hear stirrings. He must be rubbing his eyes, kicking off the blanket. My husband and I freeze. We are in bed. It is 1 a.m. We are listening to our grandson who is in his porta-crib just eight feet away. If we are quiet; if we do not rustle the bed sheets; if we stop breathing, he will go back to sleep. But the whimpering rises, turns into crying — wah-wah-WAHHHH. If we keep our eyes closed, pretend we are asleep he will shut up. But the crying gains momentum, becomes more vigorous, and aside from that it is now sitting up fully awake and it is screaming its lungs out. Still we are hopeful; if we ignore it, if we do not acknowledge that the noise it is making is truly nerve-wracking, it will go back to sleep. We turn into stiff boards, dry planks of wood, laying side-by-side on the king-size bed like giant sardines, dead giant sardines, exhausted from having spent hours singing and rocking it to sleep just two hours ago. But now it is awake again. The sound it makes ricochets all around the room, fills every single corner, shadow, crevice, fills our inner ears like some kind of penetrating screw.

How can a tiny thing like that make such a gigantic, captivating, excruciating noise? It is relentless, will not stop. It does not even pause to breathe, but screams right on, so the noise it makes is one prolonged agonizing scream. There is no denying; it is up.

If I do not move, if I keep my eyes closed, my husband will think I am asleep, and he will have to deal with it. I turn limp. I can feel my husband doing the same thing. We are two relaxed human beings, totally asleep, dead to the world this early morning while our grandson is screaming. I snore a little bit. I have him on this one because he does not snore. He is always making fun of my snoring; he does not snore, so he cannot now snore. But I am snoring, so deep into sleep and I am dreaming of Machu Picchu; I am walking along the Inca trail.

“Stop pretending to be asleep,” he says.

I snort a little, make the sound that he finds repulsive.

He sighs. His eyes are open now, staring into the black ceiling. He has to get up tomorrow and go to work. But this early morning, his grandson is demanding milk or attention, or both. He gets up to go downstairs to get a bottle of milk.
And I open my eyes, slide out of bed, and walk to the porta-crib. “Grandma’s here,” I whisper. Tiny arms fly up in the air. I pluck him from the crib. The crying stops. Like something synchronized my husband appears with the bottle of milk. Together we change our grandchild, and feed him, and rock him once again to sleep.

(Written 2003. Above pictures show Dylan, and Dylan and Alex his Dad)

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