Jack is teething. If some intelligent power designed the development of humans from embryos to adults, it must have gotten a kick out of the process of teething. I’m obviously not that power, but only the most sadistic part of me could take pride in causing this level of sustained discomfort in a creature so incapable of understanding it or coping with it. If there’s any positive aspect of it, it’s that he won’t have any memory of the process later on. Kind of like parents who pierce their children’s ears when they’re babies. No, your infant does not need diamond studs in its earlobes, but I suppose you’ve spared your 12-year old daughters the few minutes of pain they’ll be more than willing to endure and more than capable of handling as pre-teens. So that’s something.
Unfortunately for Jack, he’s teething a bit early, so he’s not coordinated enough to hold a teething ring in his mouth. Thus they’re largely useless to us right now. Tylenol seems to take some of the edge off for him, but for Mom and Dad, baby crying is a binary state — he is either crying or not crying, and Tylenol does not stop the crying. Orajel, or its generic equivalent is no more or less effective. The boy’s miserable, and when baby is miserable, everyone is miserable.
Except, curiously, Joshua. Joshua certainly notices when Jack cries, as he very helpfully tells us, “Jack is not happy” whenever he hears his brother shrieking like a banshee about the day’s latest lament. But, aside from this notification, Joshua’s rhythm of play is not disrupted. He’s perfectly able and willing to continue playing, accompanied by the music of his screaming sibling for however long it takes me to perform my differential diagnosis of Jack’s cries. Jack wails, Joshua plays, and my blood pressure elevates to blackout levels. Then we do it again, and again, and again.
Of course, children can’t be born with teeth, so they have to get them somehow. I get it. I also get that Jack is getting his teeth early, as did his brother before him. It doesn’t make it suck less, but I get it. And I know it’s over soon enough. In a few months, most of the teeth will be in place, and he’ll be half-heartedly slurping down a slurry of mashed this and pureed that. I can only imagine Joshua’s aforementioned powers of observation brought to bear on watching his infant brother wearing as much food as he’s eating. That should be fun.
The whole first year of a baby’s life is a succession of miseries, a months-long parade of calamities and disasters, mingled with zen-like awareness of only the present. The past, to a baby, disappears in minutes. The future, to a baby, does not exist. There is only the now. And when the now is a throbbing gum full of teeth literally cutting their way through flesh, the now sucks. And babies keep no secrets. We all know it sucks. Trust us, Jack, it ain’t fun for us, either.