Day 96

“A long-drawn wail came down the wind, like the cry of some evil and lonely creature. It rose and fell, and ended on a high piercing note. Even as they sat and stood, as if suddenly frozen, it was answered by another cry, fainter and further off, but no less chilling to the blood. There was then a silence, broken only by the sound of the wind in the leaves.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien, describing the cries of the Nazgûl in The Fellowship of the Ring

As I’ve mentioned previously, Miles puts up a stink at bedtime. What’s been interesting is the subtle ways in which his general bedtime cry has turned into something slightly more nefarious.

Mere weeks ago, Miles’s cries appeared to be base and almost instinctive — the knee-jerk response of a person taken to protest the time of day and the setting sun with every chubby baby sinew of his body. Since then, his cries have become increasingly plaintive, as he learns what our responses tend to be to his tears and begins making an actual effort to sway our decision-making process.

Tonight, his cries were almost otherworldly in their cadence. Miles made sounds that I’ve never heard him make before. And yet, when I picked him up from his changing pad, the sounds went away. I held him for a few minutes, caressing his head as he drooled all over my shoulder, then turned him so he could see Jaclyn, at which point the wailing began again immediately.

Jaclyn left the room, and the shrieking again subsided. I held Miles for a few more minutes before setting him down in his bassinet. He looked, as he is wont to do, at the Klimt picture on the wall next to his bed for a moment, silently and contentedly considering the work. Then his attention turned back to me, and his face immediately scrunched up with displeasure as he began the buildup to another volley of tears. As his strange, vibrato wailing continued, his brow furrowed as if to ask, “Is this working?”

It didn’t, and I stepped away and out of his line of vision. The crying subsided seconds later, as Miles knew he had finally lost our game of wits for the evening. It’s hard for me to turn away from my son when he’s crying. Even as young as he is, Miles, too, is aware of this.

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