March 30, 2007
In literature the witching hour happens around midnight, but for the infants my wife and I produce, it's 6PM. At that hour Gabriel like his brother before him, regardless of being well fed, held by someone who loves him, and otherwise comfortable, begins to cry. But not just any crying, it's desperate crying, as if all sadness in the world were wrapped up in that little 12 pound bundle. He's inconsolable for about 90 minutes. Then as suddenly as it starts, it ends. The kid sleeps. Our first son outgrew this in a few months and we trust the second will follow. Of course we try all the standard calming techniques, but they have limited effect. [The only things that take a bit of the edge off are a mechanical swing, the one horrible baby device that passed through our 'no plastic baby crap' filter, and a pacifier. We are new to pacifiers (Raul Andres spit them out as if we had put garbage in his mouth), and Jenn doesn't like them either ("Yikes, makes him look like a little Hannibal Lector."), but whatever works, right? ]
Jenn blames the daily crying session on the baby's new and undeveloped digestive system, but my grandmother would have had another explanation were she alive. For her an inconsolable baby was obviously the work of someone who had given the child "mal ojo" (the evil eye). "It happened to you once," she would always tell me with a laugh.
Then she would explain that once she had forgotten to cover my face when we went out and the neighborhood fortune teller peeked and hated my blue gringo eyes. "You started to cry right there," my grandmother would recount, "and you cried through the night and into the next day and we couldn't do anything to help you."
The next day she ran into the fortune teller who asked, "that baby cried all night didn't he?" My grandmother said yes and getting angry told the woman that neither she nor the baby had done the woman wrong and demanded a cure. The woman (my grandmother always called her una brujita feisima) led my grandmother to her garden and pulled 3 fresh brown eggs from a chicken coop. "Rub these gently over the baby's head when the moon is out. Then break the egg carefully. If the yolk is whole and looks like an eye, the spell will be broken. Throw the eggs out into the dirt. If the yolk will not stay together, you might be in for a lifetime of worry." While the eggs were rubbed on my head I am told I screamed bloody murder. Immediately afterwards the eggs were dropped in water, and eye was formed on the first try. "You stopped crying instantly" and if my grandmother is to be believed, "the crying never returned."
Maybe we need to break out some eggs.