Sunday, August 31, 2008

A matter of (terrible) timing

Strolling about in Pa's hometown, we decided today to buy a teething aid for Sonny - who's been gumming away at anything he can get his hands at (as related in 'Mad mouth alert'). The young fella's grandmother figures that it's because he's about to sprout his chompers, so we got a star-shaped 'teether' that we were supposed to refrigerate briefly before handing over. Happy visions of Sonny enthusiastically biting away, emitting happy yelps, filled our minds on the way home, and we hurried to carry out the instructions.

So far, Sonny will hardly give it a passing glance. After giving the teether a few exploratory mouth-feels, he went back to snacking on his own fingers. We snatched it up and stuffed it into his mouth. He politely worried at it a few times, like a dog testing a substandard rubber bone, then moved on.

We should have seen it coming. He may only be a week into his fifth month, but he's already worked out the natural order of things: Babies are supposed to reject whatever it is that their parents try to palm off on them, then strike out on their own paths. This applies to sleeping patterns, food as well as toy preferences and - a little later on - the friends they hang out with. It even applies to crying-session timings, we've found. Yesterday, we were at a mall for a few hours and Sonny unfailingly set to bawling only when we were plumb in the midst of the largest crowds. We therefore had to beat off sundry strangers offering unsolicited advice ("You must have scared your baby somehow"). The only profit we reaped out of the ordeal were quick seats on the crowded train home, since Sonny's grumpy and distressed face led a couple of commuters to leap up in sympathy.

Not yet convinced? The day before, on the flight home too, Sonny had waited till we were in a nice enclosed space - inside the plane - before breaking out into 'song'. There were a couple of other babies too, all no doubt co-ordinating with each other using some mysterious infant signalling system, so the passengers were treated to a full-on cry-concert. Some babies would stop for a quick breath while their compatriots kept up the aural bombardment. Then there would be switching-over of roles, a rest for those most recently exerting themselves, before a grand finale in which everyone joined in.

We're hoping that, once Sonny can understand what we are saying, we can fool him with a few cunningly-employed instances of reverse psychology ("We don't really want you to come home on time"). Right now, however, we can only grit our teeth and grin.

And maybe go find a better teether.