As someone with an OCD work ethic — a perpetually cleaned-out email inbox, 10-minute “editing” sessions that end up being four hours long — it’s really difficult to deal with this strange notion of a crying baby, to which the normal rules of logic do not apply.
Something that worked 100% last time — stroking her back, holding her just so, with one cheek smushed up against the crux of your elbow and the other draped loosely over the fingers of your other hand — will have no effect whatsoever the next instance that she refuses to go to bed. And sometimes, doing one little thing — like stroking her forehead just above her eyes — will cause those eyes to grow heavy, sink, and shut in no time at all. Just one more way that G-d screws with our minds. And all the time she’s crying, you are powerless to make it stop. You try and you try, but the truth is, she’s the one who’s going to decide when to go to sleep, not you. You just keep praying to yourself silently: Stop crying. Please, just stop crying.
But the thought that’s been going through my head lately is of this story.
This is an awful thing to read, and unless you’re one of those goth kids who still peeks at their own healing scars under a band-aid, feel free to skip to the next blog post.
It’s a story about a Lebanese terrorist who was apprehended in 1979 after killing an Israeli policeman and bludgeoning his 4-year-old daughter to death with a rock. He was freed in July, 2008, as part of a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah, shortly after I started being a professional Jewish blogger — which meant that I was reading and writing about pretty much everything that happens to the Jews. Including this, which was a pretty big story.
But that’s not the most horrifying part. While he killed the policeman and his daughter, the policeman’s wife was hiding inside the walls of their house with their younger daughter. The baby was screaming, and the mother, while trying to quiet her, suffocated her in the process.
I have really bad luck singing lullabies to my kids. I get distracted by the crying and by watching them, and I can’t think of any songs to sing. All the obvious choices — “Rockabye Baby,” “Dona Dona,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine” — all go out of my head. I’m left grasping for whatever song I can think of, which is usually an Ani Difranco song, but has been known to be worse things. One night, the only song in my head was Ice-T’s “Cop Killer,” which I promise doesn’t mean anything (I have good friends who are cops) but represents a period in my life when I was screaming a lot, too.
In some way, her crying is a reminder of our own mortality. We spend most of our lives not having control over everything, even our bodies, when they should be going to sleep but aren’t. In another way, though, it’s just my baby expressing her inner pissed-off-ness. I still stroke her back, but sometimes I force myself to take a mental step back and let her scream. It’s all gonna be okay, baby. But that doesn’t mean you can’t express your feelings on the matter.