Monday, June 28, 2010

Sleeping Through

Sleeping Through

(18 months)
Dear Trevor,
You are some kind of guy.
Here's the story. It starts about two weeks ago. One night you wake up around midnight, and right away start crying hard. You tell Mommy, ‘Up.’ She lifts you to her body, your head on her shoulder. Then you cry for a bottle. (Your current word for bottle is bobby.) Mommy rocks you, and talks softly, but you continue to demand a bobby and she gets one for you. The same thing happens the next night.

We are concerned. You've been teething on and off lately, sometimes with a low fever and a rash on your bottom. It's a real struggle for us to see you in discomfort and feel helpless, so when we talk about what is going on we keep considering that you are maybe having a tough time over something we don’t understand. We’re committed to making your trip as painless as possible. And we’re dead set against letting you cry into a void. The way we look at it your mom and me represent the world to you. So if you cry, and the world doesn’t respond, we think that can become a conditioned expectation, and you will stop expecting that the world will meet your needs. Our experience in this world leads us to believe that if you don’t squeak you don’t get oiled. At the same time I am a follower of the Middle Way. That means if you squeak in a balanced, reasonable way you have every right to expect, and demand, if necessary, a reasonable response.

Last night you again wake up in the middle of the night and are a real pain. Mommy gets you a bottle, and after a few swigs you are still unhappy, and expressing it loudly. You want to be held and carried around, to do the kind of things you used to do on the mornings when Mommy didn't go to work, like wreck the jewelry stash in the top of the high dresser. Nothing pleases you, and Mommy has a miserable night until she finally takes you out to the living room and you sleep on top of her on the couch.

We talk about what might be going on with you, and I lean toward the theory that you w enjoy being up and don't realize what a drag it is for us. You just want what you want when you want it. Well, nothing wrong with that, except that mommy needs her sleep and there has to come a time for you to learn that, cute as you are, the sun does not rise and set exclusively on you. Now seems to be as good a time as any.

Also, I have been frightened by a story Andrew (not his real name) told in my men's group. His ten year old son is verbally violent with him and his wife. I think it must preclude their having a relationship of any intimacy. That scared me. If our relationship is not intimate you will fail to benefit from our experience and our love. There is so much we want to give you, that we believe will benefit you, that will be lost if our communication isn't open and loving.
So when you cry out tonight shortly after we settle down to sleep, I feel challenged to help you in the best possible way. You sit up on the pillow, tears flowing, crying loudly, and say bobby, cry some more, and repeat, bobby. Mommy gently tells you it isn't time for a bottle, and you don't want to hear it. You scream bobby at her, in a tone and at a volume I'd never heard from you—angry and demanding.

Mommy is sitting on her heels, I’m resting on an elbow. She looks at me. ‘What should I do?’ she asks.

Well, we'd made an agreement that we were going to do something different, and I think she is asking me to do it. I’m nervous.

I clasp your arms to your sides and lift you down to a lying position on your side, facing me on the pillow, and you really don't like it. You wail. My heart quakes. I hold your arms tight to your sides. I put my lips a few inches from your ear and in a lowered, but straight-forward voice, I say, ‘Trevor, listen to me.’ You become quiet right away, and I keep right on speaking. ‘It is the middle of the night. It is not the time for a bottle. It is time to go to sleep. We all have to go to sleep. Your mommy really has to go to sleep because she has a long commute. You will have a bottle in the morning. But now we must sleep. We are all here. Mommy will hold you, and we’ll all be quiet. And we'll go to sleep together.’ I release your arms.
By this time mommy is lying on her side behind you with her hand on your belly, and you reach up to fondle her ear, which is a favorite thing for you to do. You are stone quite, your eyes are closed, and in a few minutes you are asleep. We all sleep through the rest of the night. And through all the nights from then on.

Love, Daddy

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