The Wailing Banshee

In Irish mythology, a Banshee is a female spirit sent from the underworld. They are characterised by their identifiably high pitched wail, with some claiming it to be so piercing that it shatters glass.

I was never a superstitious person, until December 17th 2014, when we gave birth to one of these things.

I speak no word of a lie, when Frankie was born, the nurses at the Sandringham Hospital all commented on her surprisingly ‘high pitched shriek’. And when my parents first arrived to see her, they made a joke about hearing ‘some baby screeching down the hallway’, to which I regretfully informed them that it was indeed our baby responsible for perforating every eardrum within a 10 metre radius of the room.

To be honest though, throughout the early period of parenthood it was somewhat of a novelty, as it only hit Celine Dion levels of inner ear damage when she was really upset. We used it as a barometer of aggravation. If you were to notice a small amount of blood leaking from your ear, then you knew she was in a really foul mood, but most of the time I only suffered from mild Tinnitus, so no big deal.

However, over the last few weeks, as Frankie has begun to discover herself, things have taken a turn for the worse. There have been interesting and funny moments, like the discovering of hands (which have her looking like Mr. Burns saying ‘Excellent’ most of the time) and feet (which leaves you prone to being kicked in the face if you’re not on your guard), but also voice.

Frankie’s shrieking is no longer a reactionary response to being tired, or hot/cold, or uncomfortable. It is now used as a beacon for attention. And it grows more and more powerful each day. She will sit there and let rip with all magnitudes of squeals and wails, until we get men in black suits from the military turning up at our door claiming they’ve just recorded a small object breaking the sound barrier, at the exact co-ordinates of the Jungle Gym on our lounge room floor.

There are moments where mid-scream the sound will actually go silent, only I’m not entirely convinced that is really what’s happening. I figure she’s hitting some kind of octave that can only be heard by search and rescue dogs, or a species of unidentified beings somewhere near the Omega Nebula.

To give you an idea, my hearing is already shot from going to concerts from a young age (I saw Faith No More at 11 years old!) and performing on stages myself during my younger years, but when I’m holding her over my shoulder and she unleashes her unholy screech it feels like someone has just pointed the Large Hadron Collider at the side of my head and pressed the ‘EXPERIMENTAL POWER’ button.

Here is a list of things that are quieter:

An artillery cannon.

A 5.0 Richter earthquake.

The mating call of the Blue Whale.

The Apollo 11 rocket launch.

Krakatoa erupting.

I’m concerned that as she gets older we will have nowhere to live. I keep hearing about all these venues being closed down due to noise pollution because they can’t afford to install $200,000 worth of soundproofing. I imagine we will have to live in an underground bunker lined with egg cartons and old mattresses. My wife and I will communicate via sign language, as years of nerve damage will have left us with the eternal ring of a Tibetan monk hitting a 10-foot gong with a sledgehammer.

Where this will go from here, I have no idea, but I figure I might as well add the  ‘Hearing Aids’ extra to my health insurance policy and get the waiting period over and done with.


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