Whenever I do something horrible, I report myself to the Internet. (Not right away, necessarily. Sometimes I’m wrong, but I don’t know I’m wrong. Other times I’m ashamed, and keep mum for a while. But in the end I speak up, so the world will know. So, when I’m gone, I’ll be remembered as I was.)
I’ve mentioned I worked in childcare, but I didn’t mention I sucked at that job. Most of my fuckups were of the well-intentioned variety (teaching the kids foreign languages, then their dad called them w*tbacks; letting the four-year-old change the two-year-old’s nappy), but this one thing I did, I did out of malice, and considering it involved a three-month-old, I should be ashamed.
What happened was this: the baby had colic. He’d scream and scream till the neighbours screamed back, so I rang my mother and asked what to do. She said “tape him screaming and then play it back to him.” Apparently, that works, but I had no tapes. I decided to scream at the poor mite myself. I must’ve known he wouldn’t like it, but I snuck up on his cradle, low to the floor. He was screaming and howling, and I popped up like a Jack-in-the-box and roared in his face. I also did sort of a…gargoylish grin.
His reaction was predictable: he stopped crying a moment, then filled up his lungs and started again. He cried for a long time, twice as loud as before. I’d frightened him badly, as it turned out. It took him a while to stop flinching at the sight of me. Two weeks, I think—which, for a three-month-old, is a sixth of his life.
I eventually discovered how to make him stop crying. I’ll mention it here, in case anyone else needs to know. What you do is, you lie on your back with the kid on your chest, flat on his stomach with his ear to your heart. Breathe slowly, rub his back, and in a few minutes, he’ll fall fast asleep. (I’d have tried that the first time, but I hadn’t thought of it yet.)
Certain things, once you’ve done them, you’ll always be trash. You can try and do good things to cancel them out, but you’ll always be someone who screamed at a baby. You can’t go back and not do it—you did it. That’s that. Same thing with murder, or being a bully. You’ve done someone harm and you can’t take it back.
I screamed at a baby, no takebacks. That’s that.