Friday, May 13, 2005

Screaming Babies

Not mine of course, I don't have any. Other peoples. My downstairs neighbor's, for example.

There is nothing like being awoken at 2:30 am by the shrill screams of a 3 1/2 year old through the bedroom floor. I am talking about blood-curdling screams for more than 30 minutes. Screams determined to wake mommy and daddy that only intensify the longer it takes for them to run to the bedside to ensure you there are no monsters under the bed.

I don't mean to give the impression that I dislike my neighbors in any way. However, they recently moved from their 3-bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor to a one and 1/2 bedroom directly below me. They have sold their apartment and are waiting for the contractor to complete renovation on their new building in Bed-Sty. In the meantime they are renting the apartment on the 1st floor.

Usually they are lovely boys. Born two years apart to the day. That is right, boy number 2 was born on boy number 1's 2nd birthday. Mom actually went into labor at the birthday party. The entire family is typically quiet and reserved. Mom is British, if that means anything to you.

Last night, however, must have been the night for nightmares in Apartment 1C (I don't think anyone in my building reads this blog; if they do, I am sorry hard feelings, just ranting here...). One of the boys was extremely upset. I wanted to go down there and help him out. Not only would I be able to get back to sleep more quickly I would also feel much better for him.

I remember those nights as a child. I used to wake up screaming that I had a bad dream about a mummy (because I had watched Scooby-doo that day), the problem was I thought they were called Mommies not Mummies, so my dad could not understand why I was so terrified of dead Mommies... or there was the old standard fear that snakes were under my bed. As I got a little bit older I would lay in bed pondering what "forever" meant when they said it in church, and how could there possibly be something like forever? Or other nights it would be more along the lines of "What happens when you die" and "how do I know God is really there", good old Catholic terror. I would scream (usually for my dad, he always responded much sooner than my mom) until one of my parents came to my room. I would get myself so worked up I wouldn't be able to catch my breath long enough to tell them what was the matter. When I could finally speak I would argue with every sensible explanation they gave to me. I would make sure they sat at the edge of my bed until I fell back to sleep. If not, I would simply follow them back to their room and crawl into their bed. Being the oldest I did this more often than either my brother or my sister.

We all had our bad nights but I was the biggest victim. Afterall, being the oldest took a lot out of you during the day. Setting a good example was tough, even at 4 years old. At night my subconscious questioned whether or not I really did know everything. Usually I found that I didn't, which would prompt my downward spiral of 5-year old philosophical questioning leading to uncontrollable tears and screams of horror. The more deeply I thought about things the worse it was.

So I guess the downstairs neighbors believe in tough love or are just really, really sound sleepers because nobody ever went to help the little guy. He screamed himself asleep. I know because the screams and sobs would get fewer and farther apart until it all started back up again as loud as ever and then died down more quickly, repeat. I don't know who ended up falling asleep first, me or him. I do know I listened to him for at least 30 minutes.

I am sure his monsters went away somehow and he should be very proud of himself that he stood up to them alone and chased them away. I only hope he scared them enough so they don't come back tonight...

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