By Laura Moore

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When I say my son screams, I don't mean he surrenders a polite little yelp appropriate for someone who is 30 inches tall. 

I mean he reaches into the deepest boughs of his body, and bursts into a show-stopping, glass-shattering screech that causes everyone within yelling distance to stop and stare.

Most of the time, it isn't a mean scream. He isn't red-faced, foot-stomping mad. He isn't catapulting tears from the rims of his eyes. He isn't waving his fists and lowering himself into the "I can't believe you're not giving me what I want" squat.

He is screaming because people laugh. He is running through halls, raising his arms, opening his chest and shrieking fearlessly until he has everyone's attention. Then he claps his hands, laughs and shrieks again. Sometimes he runs into circles of strangers, screams and looks up at their open jaws--making sure every last one of them is paying attention--before continuing his regiment, waiting for them to say how cute he is, waiting for them to laugh, waiting for them clap back. 

Invariably they do. 

And his huge, open-mouthed, eight-tooth grin splits across his face shortly thereafter.

See, this process thrills him to no end. He loves the attention; he craves it. Unafraid of strangers, unintimidated by people who are much older and taller, and curious about new spaces, our little Z is fascinated by how the world works, and excited to have discovered the fact that his voice has the power to stop it, to make people listen, to inspire them to smile, to get them to drop their guard, to wave their hands like a child.

Worried about disturbing the peace, we tell him to stop each time he does it, but something inside of me always feels bad when we do. In a world where he is so tiny, a world where he has no words--at least none that he uses regularly enough to count as vocabulary--that show-stopping scream is the only power he has.  It's his only means to get others to listen, to change the mood, to shift the tone, to pause life, to reach out, to make friends, to make people happy.

And that is what he does time and again when he locks eyes with others, when he flashes his two bottom teeth, when his dimples sink into his plump little cheeks and his blue eyes glimmer like sapphires. He, and his horrendous shriek, light up even the saddest of rooms, and as I watch him, as I see him pull out the charm, as I run--two steps behind him--and observe the way his tiny little self fills up the world, I can't help but imagine who he will become. I can't help but wonder which words will follow his scream. I can't help but fall in love all over again with his sweet, little soul. 

 


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