Sunday, July 6, 2008

Instant killer, we need you

In the movies, even an ox-tough character will collapse like a sack of potatoes when someone chops him expertly in the throat or gives him a whiff of some concentrated poison.

Not that we want anyone eliminated, we hasten to add. But we have often rued the lack of some sort of instant-killer mechanism that can shut Sonny up pronto when we have company, or are in public. Just today, for instance, we were trying to choose a new settee when the little monster opened up the throttles and gave it his all. The windows didn't shatter, though they might have rattled slightly. However, strangers were looking at us as though we'd been shaving Sonny's skin off with a peeler.

Anyway, to cope with such emergencies, we've developed a few tricks that may not quite qualify as 'instant-killer', but do sometimes startle him into silence. In the hope of helping other parents - and hopefully have them part with even better silencing techniques, here are four tips:

The zig-zag If Sonny is in his stroller (and he's often especially restive when being wheeled about), we've found that his insistence on crying can be broken by abruptly embarking on a series of zig-zag turns. These should be attempted at at least moderate speed. Sonny seems to either enjoy the shifts in balance or find it puzzling: Either way, his wailing is cut off like a switch being thrown. However, if this dodge is attempted more than a couple of times per stroller ride, he becomes immune and will simply keep on bawling.

The harsh hello Facing the baby so he can't miss your presence, one simply says very firmly, "Be quiet" or "Silence". The intended effect should be that of a whiplash: Pa prefers to say "Enough noise now, okay" in the bizarre Scottish accent that we've already blogged about, but it's not so much the words that matter as the tone of command they are cast in. Typically, Sonny is stunned into temporary silence. Again, though, harsh-helloing only works the first couple of times; after that, he ignores our demands - even if the decibel count rises.

The super shush Most of us have read that babies are soothed by the buzzy sound of static, the whistling of the tea kettle or just a gentle sound of shushing. But we've been trying to perfect an instant-killer, industrial-strength version of the basic shush. Standing fairly close to the baby, one barks it out, drawing it out (fiercely: "Shhhhhhhhhhh!") if needed. So long as one can keep this super-shushing, in our experience, Sonny remains effectively cowed. Our lungs, however, soon start to burn - and once we fall silent, its even money that Sonny will get going again.

The stroller spin This is sort of a spin-cycle counterpart of the zig-zag earlier discussed. It helps if you have a manoeuvrable stroller, for what's required is a rotating of the baby - a few revolutions' worth, at least - at a rapid clip. Maybe it gets him dizzy, and maybe he can't both be dizzy and noisy at the same time, but the waterworks tend to be cut off.

Overall, we've found that we have to mix and match these various methods, since any one of them quickly becomes useless if repeated with successive tearings-up. Some of the suggestions may seem rather hard-core (harsh-helloing, for instance, has a certain drill sergeant cruelty), but remember that we're dealing with situations in which we need to immediately impose silence. These tips aren't particularly good for imposing extended periods of peace, but are perhaps most effective when immediately followed-up by a quick feed or a few hugs.


Nick Jackson said...

Great stuff, there are a few new moves I'll have to try out this week if my driving is up to it. Out current favourite is waving crazily at our daughter. for some reason this seems to stop her dead and changes tears to having her staring at us. To be fair, it also makes anyone who happens to be around us stop and stare too, so not sure it's a complete winner.

Cloudsters said...

Hey, Nick, we know just what you mean: 'Super-shushing' or spinning the stroller also tends to result in puzzled looks on the faces of passers-by.