It’s your Papa. How you doing? Not good? Yeah, I can tell. As for me, I’m… well, I’m frustrated. I have a simple request for you: Stop screaming.
That’s it really! Nothing more to it than that. You know those bloodcurdling, hysterical, guttural keening noises you’re making with your mouth? Those are the sounds I’m going to have to ask you to refrain from producing henceforth.
You don’t have to be silent. Pout away! Cry some cute little cries. Whimper now and then. Kick your stubby little legs. But this acute, penetrating imitation of a drunken monkey learning the electric violin? That’s going to have to come to an end, little buddy.
You’re in a car. Did you know that? We are traveling from one place (our home) to another (the store), and the car is the ideal way to do that. In order for you to ride in said car, I had to strap you into a car seat. It’s a safety issue, you see. And the strapping-in is when the ear-piercing screams began, even though we literally do this multiple times per day, every day. Isn’t that funny? It’s like you forget every time! LOL, right?
I wonder if perhaps you’ve simply lost track of what you’re doing. You’re too close to the situation, like when an actress has been rehearsing her lines so many times that they lose all meaning. So allow me to elucidate for you:
I’m going to lose my fucking mind if you continue to shriek like a hormonal chimpanzee vying for dominance.
Your face is beet-red. No, check that: it’s redder than a beet. It’s firetruck red. It’s the exact wavelength of primary red. It’s a new color that has replaced red because it’s even redder. There are all sorts of gross liquids on your face and clothes, including snot and tears and vomit and Mystery Baby Fluid 47. You’re upset, I can tell. I validate you. I see you.
But the thing is, I’m driving a two-ton metallic death machine, and I need a little peace and quiet.
So, the screaming, the shrill squawking. Oh my. That’s what I’m going to need you to go ahead and conclude.
Here, I’ll try to describe it for you as best I can. Maybe you’re immune to it at this point, so I’ll paint you a picture:
Imagine four feral cats, just hanging out on the street, minding their own business, trying to do what kitties do. But then, out of nowhere, a tiny mouse skitters to a place right between the four felines, and then stops. The mouse just sits there.
The cats don’t hesitate – they pounce. But they reach the mouse at the exact same instant, and they begin to claw at each other. Within seconds, they are so angry that they begin to hiss and growl, and before long they’re in a full-on screeching four-body catfight.
Meanwhile, a construction crew is yards away, and Jackhammer Jill has revved the engine on her machine. The concrete begins to splinter, and Jackhammer Jill’s friend Chainsaw Chad is going to work on a nearby tree that needs to come down for fire safety reasons.
A kid is walking past and he’s throwing those goddamned little exploding popper things on the ground, and right next to him a truck is unloading a huge shipment of styrofoam beams, except the squeaky white shit is spilling and all the beams are scraping against each other, and so the truck driver starts to anxiously grind his teeth. Next door, the vuvuzela store is having a sale, and next to that, the Brotherhood of Long Fingernails has just arrived at a Chalkboard Convention.
Do you get the idea? Your screaming is worse than that, tenfold. Elevenfold? Maybe!
Do you know how many times my hand has reflexively reached for the volume dial on the radio, to turn it down, even though it wasn’t on very loud? Six, I think. Maybe seven. Or how many times I’ve taken deep breaths, tried to find that one Coldplay song that made you stop crying that one time, or cursed at the car in front of me for coming to a complete stop when a nice rolling California Stop would have sufficed?
Many times, that’s how many times.
So look. I know you’re just a sweet little baby. You’ve only lived on the planet for eight months, non-utero edition, and your communication is limited. I get that, I really do. But has the screaming ever gotten you what you wanted?
No. It hasn’t. Because what you want is to get out of the car seat, and I just can’t do that. Not until we’ve arrived at our destination, which is still a good seven to eight minutes away.
Quick point of clarification: when you do eventually stop, it needs to be more than the two minute fake-out breaks you’ve been taking to recharge your lungs. No, this needs to be for good, or at least until we get to the store. Then I’ll get you out until we go back home. But let’s cross that scream-bridge when we get there, eh?
Here, I’ll show you how. I’ll holler real quick, just a little one, then stop. See? That was easy. That look of astonishment on your face? Multiply that by 100, then convert that to an emotion. That’s what I’m dealing with, in my heart. In my bones. In my marrow.
I am aging super-fast here in the front seat, each second of finger-curling sonic agony cutting precious hours off the end of my life. No pressure (but some pressure).
If you’re wondering what to do instead, worry not! I’ve got you covered! You could try sleeping (I even put up the sun shield for your glare-free convenience); you could look out the window as the world passes us by; you could play with any of the myriad toys I’ve provided for you; or you could simply sit in quiet contemplation. It’s up to you, buddy!
So this caterwauling that would make rabid hyenas proud? Let’s table it. Just for a bit.