Friday, April 17, 2009

Bedtime Disaster

            Last night I was reading her a bedtime story and she suddenly jabbed her little finger up my right nostril. Totally random arm flail. Made my nose bleed all over the place. I just looked at her in shock for a minute, then started to laugh. Score one for the baby. I had to give up putting her to bed and let Michelle take over so I could staunch the bleeding.
            Bedtime is a hit-or-miss affair for us. Sure, I’ve read some books on it, but so has Michelle, and our books say different things. My books say to let the kid cry it out and they’ll be happier in the morning. Her books say crying is terrible, never let them cry, kids in Third-World countries don’t cry nearly as much as ours and they’re a lot less miserable, always snuggle with them and breastfeed them so they’re “happier.” Balderdash. I can’t believe it. I mean, seriously, do those kids who’ve cried themselves to sleep really end up miserable adults?
            Something tells me we’re not getting the full picture here. But what I can tell you is that bedtimes can occasionally become the most tiring part of the day. When it’s my duty, I do her little routine, put on her pj’s, read her some stories, sing a song, then put her in a crib and jam in the earplugs because the wailing will begin. I sing her a little more, then, frankly, recently I’ve just been leaving the room. She usually falls asleep pretty quickly these days, although when I first started doing this it could take hours of coming back into the room and telling her she’s really okay. Michelle’s system seems better on the outside, but I think deep down it’s polluting our child. She basically lies in bed with her and breastfeeds till the baby konks out. Simple. Effective. Deadly.
            Why is it deadly? Because the baby now associates sleep with eating. Not an association I’d recommend for adults. I do remember falling asleep in a plate-full of spaghetti when I was younger, but in general, I think of eating as something quite separate from sleep.
            So, last night, after she’d finally zonked out, Michelle showed me a DVD a friend had loaned her on sleep therapy. We popped it in and I had to smirk at terms like “sleep nutrition” that, to me, seem like imposing one theory on another, but then I was overall quite happy Michelle watched it with me because somehow seeing it on a screen from authoritative people made it sink in. Yes, I smile even now as I write this, because it argued for my side of the spectrum. Yes! One more argument to let the kid learn to sleep on their own.
            Michelle said she’ll give it a shot, and I said my silent thanks to God. Now, who knows if this is going to make the difference, but at least we’ll both put her to sleep the same way, which is probably a good thing. You know, consistency.
            But I can’t help feeling this sense of imprisonment as I think of it. No, no, not the fact that my baby sleeps behind bars in her crib. More, the sense that I’m going to be stuck with a “routine” of putting my kid(s) to sleep for years to come. No more random nights out. Children turn the biggest party-animal into a homebody overnight. Sure, sure, I still like to party, but now I’m pretty much stuck with inviting people over. What’s the point of going out after 7pm if I know the baby will melt-down and we won’t enjoy ourselves?
Well, we did do it last week. Took her to friends for dinner and making music. And we were loud. Drums, guitars, singing. But before that, it took me half an hour, right when the main course was being served, to get her to sleep in her car seat in somebody’s bedroom. That was the issue. I had the appies, wine, salad, but by the time I ate into that scrumptious piece of chicken it was less than hot. Yeah, yeah, I can complain a little, but overall I think she’s becoming more manageable. Who knows, maybe I’ll get out more as she gets older? I don’t know. Anyway, the point is, I definitely feel restricted. This bundle of joy is a bundle of responsibility. Makes a man grow up pretty darn quick.
            Just like the baby.

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