When doves cry
This little girl of mine, boy does she shine. She’s not even at the six month mark and already she’s a comedian. She’s not usually trying to get laughs, but she does anyway, mostly because at less than a year old, she thinks she can pull one over on her Mama.
The child is beginning to grasp the complexities of communication, and very quickly, she is learning that crying is like a straight line – the shortest distance between wanting something and getting it. Her needs at this point are pretty basic but she already has a bag of tricks at the ready to make sure they are met as soon as humanly possible.
She’s perfecting the art of crying for full dramatic effect and her range is impressive. Sample this:
This is the pick-me-up-now cry and it sounds like the mewling of a newborn puppy. It usually makes an appearance at about 3am in the morning, when the sleep is so sweet you could eat it with a spoon. It starts off quietly but as soon as you raise your head up to check if baby is really, truly awake at that Godforsaken hour, she spots you and increases the volume a hundred fold, all the while looking at you with a most pitiful expression in her eyes, her trembling lower lip turned down at the corners. Try as you might to ignore the little actress, you can feel your heartstrings being played like a violin, and there really is no option but to dance to the tune and lift the damsel in distress out of her cot and into your bed.
The Mariah Carey
Otherwise known as the I’m-testing-my-vocal-range cry. This is not a cry for help. It is a dress rehearsal. A dry run to fine tune pitch, volume and intensity so that when the time comes, they will all be perfect. It sounds a lot like baby is really crying but she’s really not. If you smile at her, she’ll pause the recording and smile back. When the Mariah Carey is in session, she’s not looking for attention, weirdly enough; she’s just testing her skills and filing them away for future performances.
Also referred to as the quit-playing-Mama-I’m-serious cry. This one is the big one. It usually comes with a side of freshly squeezed tear drops, which makes it the most authentic of the lot. The wail only comes out in extreme cases of pain, discomfort or hunger. And when it does, I know that the child is truly distressed. There is no warm up with this one, it starts off loud and gets louder until there is an appropriate response. Unlike Ms Mariah over there, this one is well and truly a cry for help. Woe unto you if you don’t take immediate steps to stem the tide before it escalates.
The ugly cry
This version of events is reserved for the clinic on vaccination day. It’s the drool coming down my face, snot dripping down my nose, eyes so swollen I can’t even cry no more bawl. It’s more of a howling really. A ‘Help me Jesus’ type scenario that can’t be averted or remedied. Thankfully, this kind of wailing doesn’t happen often. When it does, I feel like crying myself. Yeah, who am I kidding? I do cry myself. It’s at times like those when I wonder what possessed me to yank my heart out and let it run around in the body of a little girl.
This one says leave-me-alone. The growl is reserved for those moments when I’m pinching her cheeks, blocking her nose or trying to suck her thumb while it’s still in her mouth. All fun and games I assure you but baby doesn’t take it too kindly. The first few times, she puts her palms out and shoves me away, and when that doesn’t work she lets out a frustrated snarl, kind of like a muted roar. If she had teeth she they would be gritted and if she knew how to speak she would probably yell out a resounding, “Mshenzi!” Her frustration amuses me to no end so there’s been a lot of growling going on in our household I’m afraid. My DCA (domestic chores assistant) is usually giving me the side eye, muttering under her breath, talking about, “Wacha kumtesa mtoto”, but I pay her no mind. Where is the joy in having a child if you can’t play the goofy Mum? Good times, people, good times.