As we sat on the Midtown Direct train leaving Convent Station heading to New York, a loud, raw, ugly sound came drifting through the train cars, attacking our calm, peaceful ears. It was the unmistakeable sound of a young child exploding into screams.
This sound was especially distressful since we had, the night before, seen an episode of “Call the Midwife.” In this episode everyone was absorbed by the unabated joy upon the faces of nurses, midwives and new parents. A baby was born. Cause for celebration. No reason to imagine that life from now on would be anything but ecstatic.
Until baby becomes unhappy about something and its protests start reeling in from the next train car.
That child was completely unaware of its surroundings, totally disinterested in people’s reactions to the noises it was emitting. The baby had the power to force people to unwillingly listen. Nobody could simply switch the channel or activate a “stop” button. The child did not care what anybody thought of it’s screeching concert. He/she was tuned out of any reaction, reviews of the performance or negativity about its expression skills.
When does that change? When do people turn from screaming child unaware and uncaring about the effects of its disturbing their restful train ride? To twittering, self-conscious, insecure adolescent-like humans, afraid of being seen wearing the wrong brand of jeans? Or of expressing unpopular opinions to the “in crowd?”
Isn’t it a shame that the freedom baby has to express its desires and opinions is diminished just at the time that their ideas and opinions might finally become worthwhile and interesting to listen to?
If only babies came with control buttons. One to “mute” any vocal unhappinesses and the other to “play” the sweet sounds of contentment.