License to Shrill

So the screaming got really bad earlier this week, not that I should be able to notice a difference in magnitude because how is shrill any different from really, really shrill? Monday the screams were shrilltastic, and Tuesday she was SO NOT KIDDING ABOUT THE SHRILLNESS.

Over the weekend she had been grabbing at both of her ears, and so I decided to take her to the doctor to find out if she was suffering from an ear infection. And I have to tell you that a baby with an ear infection is one of my worst nightmares, right up there with being tickled to death or being force-fed black licorice, The Worst Tasting Taste In all of Tasteland. But I was almost hoping that she had an ear infection because then they could give her an antibiotic and it would heal and the systematic shrilling of my soul would come to an end. An ear infection would at least be an explanation.

So I took her to the doctor and while we sat in the waiting room we watched other mothers chase after their shrieking, mobile toddlers and I caught a glimpse of what my life will be like in the next couple of years. It was like I was watching a videotape of my own execution, the volume deafeningly loud, and when one little boy threw himself on the floor and began pounding his arms and legs in a whirlwind thrashing of anger, all because his mom wouldn’t let him tear the covers off of all the magazines — mean, unloving mother! — I felt the dull blade of the guillotine slice into my neck, my head tumbling off my body and into a jeering crowd of cannibalistic three year olds ready to gouge out my eyes and teeth with crayons.

Before the doctor checked her ears she stuck Leta on the scale and we were both startled at the number that popped up on the digital read-out: 14 lbs, 8 oz. My child has more than doubled her weight since we brought her home from the hospital. This makes no sense because 1) Leta doesn’t really eat during the day, and 2) LETA DOESN’T EAT DURING THE DAY. I told the doctor that I’d been worried about her eating habits, and she looked at me like ARE YOU KIDDING? This kid looks like she’s been fed a steady diet of bacon grease! This all leads me to believe that Leta’s father is feeding her Twinkies behind my back.


The doctor then checked both of her ears for signs of infection, and not only did she not find any infection, she didn’t even find any Twinkies. In fact, she found Leta to be the model of perfect health, a diagnosis I found utterly tragic as that means Leta is just an irritable little turd. There is no antibiotic for irritability. Ear infections will clear up in a few days, whereas irritability lasts a lifetime, lifetime, lifetime. (Yes, that was an echo, symbolic of the vast canyon of misery ahead of me as mother of a screaming person who refuses to stop screaming. And at the end of my life when Leta gives the eulogy at my funeral no one will understand a word of it because it will be ONE. LONG. STRING. OF. SCREAMS.)