It's official, and it probably doesn't surprise anyone who knows me: I seem to beget babblers. First there was Jackson, who at 13 talks so fast he constantly trips over his thoughts trying to get them out of his mouth. And now, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Max, the talking-est, babbling-est baby this side of an E-trade commercial.
It started off cute, as all things baby do. His little newborn cooing sounds, his first attempts at stringing consonants and vowels together, his joyous outbursts in response to our efforts to entertain him. But now it's all coming back to haunt us, as the little monster I like to call Screetchy McScreechster has increasingly been unleashing his torrent of brain-piercing noises on our unsuspecting ears.
Screetchy doesn't waste any time, beginning his chorus as soon as he's polished off his morning bottle, laying in our bed and letting loose with a series of wails and catcalls that doom any effort by mom and dad to go back to sleep. Sometimes he gets his amazingly dexterous tongue involved (oh the jealousy!), flipping and turning the little fleshy protrusion all over the place as he attempts to blurt out what sounds like a horribly mangled version of Ravel's Bolero.
Luckily for Sarah and me, his constant aural experimentation has been limited to the confines of our home, as he seems to become speechlessly mesmerized when out in in the big, wild world. That was, until two nights ago, when he decided to make a nearby sushi place his testing ground for sharing his screeches with the world.
There we were, innocently awaiting our food, unsuspecting of the shocking developments about to unfold. Screetchy had been properly fed and milked, leading us to believe that we'd have our usually peaceful meal, with him sitting beside us, endlessly entertained by all the people and objects and shapes to look at. That's when the edamame hit the table, and all hell broke loose. Screetchy took one look at those delectable little soybean pods and a noise that can only be described as having ascended from the bowels of baby hell erupted from his little body.
Not once, mind you. Not even twice. But 4, maybe 5 times. The first one stopped the whole restaurant dead in its tracks. The second one hospitalized an elderly couple. The third one sent diners running out into the street. By the fourth deafening howl, the restaurant had to shut down for a structural analysis of what was left of the building.
Exaggeration aside, we did our best to proceed with the meal. Well, actually, Sarah did her best. I ate as I always do, because hey, I'm a dad. That's what we do: we eat. I'm happy to handle just about anything, but when I'm eating, all bets are off. When at home, Sarah eats quick meals as she tends to Screetchy, sometimes sneaking a few bites as she feeds him. When I'm on baby duty and it's meal time, I stick him in his little spinny activity center and concentrate on my meal. Sorry, dude, scream all you want--I'm very busy devouring this sandwich, and I'll get to you when I'm done.
Back to the remains of the restaurant, as you can imagine, Sarah's meal was a test from that point forward. She couldn't shovel the chopped up edamame or rice into his mouth fast enough. She'd try to eat, but as soon as 3.4 seconds would go by, Screetchy would start another round, forcing Sarah to drop her fork, and pick up the baby shovel. It was quite a sight for me as I lapped up my sunomono and sashimi.
The practical takeaway from our little scene was that we've apparently reached the stage when eating meals out is a high-risk undertaking that may not prove to be worth the money or effort. But the larger implication is Screetchy's volume level, which is growing by the day. It's a good think Sarah and I love the little noise machine so much, otherwise we'd have to keep a stock of gags handy.
This is just a guess, but Screetchy should make the terrible twos a blast.