It’s really funny how people look at me, especially my parents. The look in their eyes goes from adoration when I’m quiet and cuddly, gurgling those sweet, cooing sounds into their ears, to absolute confusion and worry. The shrieking really disturbs them. They tell each other I’m just colicky. Maybe I drank some slightly sour formula. Mom keeps telling dad she should just breastfeed me, it’s supposed to be better for babies anyway. She thinks I might cry less if she pokes me in the lips with her own nipple instead of the fake, rubbery one.
They try so hard to sleep at night, the time when I am the most active. Taking turns, they call it. Mom will take me from the crib and sit in the red, living room chair, rocking, singing, patting my back and bottom. She’ll try over and over to feed me, insisting I’m just hungry and fussy. I usually toss my cookies onto her chest or shoulder then start bleating like a trapped lamb again.
Dad’s turn is next. He leans over my crib and tells me that mommy is tired and I’ll have to settle for el padre. He only knows two spanish words, the other is caliente. When he picks me up he’s hysterically careful, like he’s just too strong of an animal, too brutal, to hold a small infant. Sometimes, if I squall abruptly enough, he’ll twitch and let go. I do it occasionally, just for fun. Fortunately I have great control of myself and never laugh, not even when I drop back into the crib, banging my noggin against the bars. He panics and keeps waving his hands over me while I scream to the heavens. Shhhhh. Oh crap! Shhhhhhh. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please don’t scream. I look forward to the day when he will blame himself for my failings, wondering forever if it’s all because of that one time?
Speaking of bars, have any of you considered that you just accept the bars of a crib without question? You have created life, a miniature version of yourselves that you pin all your hopes and dreams on then, for your own sense of comfort and security, you lock it in a cage. This is the child you openly discuss living vicariously through, hoping it will have a better life than you did; a better childhood; better high school years and better overall relationships. You proudly go to the bank and set up a college fund. All the while, your little angel is waiting to earn enough trustee points to get out of his humane enclosure. And you call yourselves an advanced civilization.
I’m certain the hag next door is on to me. She comes over almost every day to help mom take care of me while dad goes to his job. The hag is tricky. When she looks into my eyes hers are full of suspicion. It’s difficult for me to not glower at her. I can control my humor simply enough but, the anger? That is more challenging for me. The anger is the core of my being. It’s my most accessible emotion, always front and center, ready to erupt over the smallest thing. I could easily take a vow to never utter the slightest giggle again for all eternity but I could never take the same vow for getting mad. When the hag smiles at me with her thin, crinkly lips covered in old lipstick and, those bitter, arsenic eyes, it takes so much of my self-control to not change my gurgles of contentment into growls of rage. How dare her think she knows me! Whenever we are left alone together for a moment she whispers into my soft, infant hair that mommy should have left me on a rock under the first full moon. She says I should go back where I belong. I shouldn’t be allowed to grow up. Of course I think differently.
Changelings always do.