The Test Subjects

Hello and welcome. Let me introduce our little mood swing machine. He’s happy, he’s sad. He’s joyous, he’s mad. He likes you, you aren’t allowed near. He’s hungry, he’s tossing food.

He’s our favorite little moody blue.

Zane’s latest “trick” is the scream. Someone starts singing and didn’t clear it with him? Scream. Tell him not to put his whole hand in his mouth (which, in retrospect, would reduce the screaming). Scream. Make him quit climbing on top of dangerous places. Scream. It’s his monosyllabic answer to most everything. In fact a few mornings, out the blue, maybe 6am maybe 4am, he lets out one or two screams. Nothing else, no crying or talking, just a perfunctory scream and back to sleep. Lately I think the scream is losing some of its punch merely because he’s doing it so often that his throat is sore.

And then, out of the blue, our happy-go-lucky kid is back as cute and loving as ever. We’ll eat dinner and he’ll hold up his hands to have a group singing prayer, or maybe a verse of I DIG DIRT or Old McDonald if it’s the end of the meal. We’ll play tractors or hide-n-seek or jump-on-daddy, put back the books he pulled off of the shelf during nap, take a long bubble bath … all the while he’s smiling and the air is full of laughter.

And then it’s bed time, we’re reading books together and out of the blue a scream. Zane looks at you to judge your reaction, like some alien life form performing experiments. Maybe you decide to arch an eyebrow. He screams again. You frown. Scream. Ignore him. Scream. Sometimes you’ll try to discuss the screaming: long, intricate discourses that go whizzing over his head as he thinks about when he’ll scream next. Eventually it’s time for him to sleep and he may or may not send you away with a couple more screams.

He drifts off to sleep, categorizing the responses and planning the next day’s experiments.