10 January 2008

Hush Little Toddler

So we're trying a new sleeping routine with Bird.
We have never (okay, maybe five? times, while traveling) in the course of Bird's little life, let her "cry it out." And I'm not going to make you feel badly if that's what you do with your little one, it's just not something that fits for us. We have always rocked Birdy all the way to slumber and then moved her to the crib, and for the last 6ish months, we've laid down next to her in the big girl bed until she's out like a light.

And we have enjoyed and appreciated most of those quiet, snuggly, private moments with our little one. We're both working parents, and Bird spends many of her days creating her own little life with her friends at daycare. Neither of us minds spending thirty minutes nose-to-nose with her, having drowsy little conversations and being gently bossed around. We can't get enough of her, in fact.

And I don't mean to paint a picture that this is perfect. There are the nights when I fall completely asleep next to her and drag myself out of her bed and directly into mine, without even a minute of grown-up conversation with my favorite adult in the world. There are the nights when she insists on reeeeeallyy snuggling, a snuggling so fierce that it requires her head to rest ON YOUR FACE, and even that is not close enough. There are the nights she falls asleep on your arm and it takes a fourteen-step silent ninja move to extract yourself without disturbing her. There are the nights she can't get the little giraffe hankie to lay just so on her pillow, causing constant adjustment. There are nights we get busted sneaking out, hand on the doorknob ready to exit, and then climb back in bed for round 2.

This week we've been trying to help Bird learn to fall asleep on her own, and its ripping both our hearts out. One of us sits on the bed while she lays down under the covers for a few minutes, and then we snuggle up next to her like we always have. The goal is to stretch this time a little longer each night until she is falling asleep without us on the pillow beside her. It's going to be a long process, but the goal is to avoid fear and loneliness and pretending to read while your child is terrified.

It isn't working out quite like we'd planned, as she lays under her covers and sobs while we sit up on her bed and ache. I hate sneaking out and getting busted, and I do have to start carving some study time out of my evenings, but I'm starting to wonder how important it is for her to change now. And also how much harder it could be to change later.

Bird story 2
One night this week, I picked Bird up from daycare and had to leave the house 30 minutes later for a board meeting at her school.

Me: We're going home so you can play with Daddy, but I have to go to a meeting tonight, okay?

Bird: You go home and I have to go to a meeting tonight, okay?

Me: Oh, me too! What meeting are you going to?

Bird: I'm going to the orange meeting.

Me: Am I going to the orange meeting?

Bird: (tone indicates that I could not be more clueless) No, Mama, you go to the PINK meeting.

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