Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Night, Night. Sleep tight."

Sometime between 8:30 and 9 p.m. every, single night, either Mrs. Blackwell or myself finishes rocking the boy and lays him in his crib. 

Our routine is goes thusly: upon completion of a bath the boy spends a minute or two running in between the bathroom, his bedroom and our bedroom. He's wearing only a towel and usually uttering a stream of babble as he quickly shuttles from spot to spot. 

Pictured: typical sleeping position. Also, you can see that, despite my efforts
to halt his growth, it continues unabated.
Typically, getting him from this stage and into clean pajamas is a relatively pain-free task, though sometimes he decides he's not  in complete and total control ready for bed and throws a bit of a fit. 

More frequently, the pajamas go on happily and quickly and in little time he's nestled on one of our laps reading a book, brushing his teeth or enjoying a drink of water (sometimes all at once.)

From here (and usually after several readings of the same book) the boy goes to his crib. 

At its best, this exercise is a peaceful one. 

Oftentimes — but not often enough — the boy practically begs to be put to sleep. 

He'll even say, "Night. Night. Sleep tight," to prompt one of us to lay him down. It's one of those too-cute-for-words type of moments that, as a parent, you relish. 

Then there are the other times when he doesn't want to sleep, even though that's what his mother and I he needs most. 

We've developed a few tools to placate the boy in these situations, including complete capitulation. 

"You don't want to sleep and that's why you're screaming bloody murder? Well then, I guess you don't have to sleep. Let's go downstairs, watch The Simpsons and eat some Cheerios." (Mrs. Blackwell's version typically doesn't include cereal and TV.)

This is a rarely used nuclear option, enacted only in extreme circumstances.

More frequently, we give the boy any number of favored stuffed toys. (And he always, always, always gets his favorite blanket.)

The toys have served as a useful supplement to his blanket and often help smooth out any rough edges in the transition to bed. 

One toy in particular, a plush turtle, whose plastic shell is perforated and emits light that casts stars and the moon upon the ceiling, is a current favorite.  

There are other times when he's too tired to perceive reality in any way other than an exercise in total misery. He'll cry and there's nothing we can do except put him in his crib and leave the room.

Almost invariably the crying stops and within ten minutes he's fast asleep. 

This is the "before picture" while the one above was taken
immediately after I removed the turtle.
It's become part of our routine that I'll drop by the boy's room an hour or so later and have a quick glimpse before Mrs. Blackwell and I go to sleep for the evening. 

I've yet to find the boy any other way except fast asleep, though I will say he's the master of awkward positioning. 

I've found him face down in a fetal position with his blanket and a stuffed animal clutched in a ball under his stomach, supporting most of his body weight. 

I've found him with an arm and a leg hanging out of the crib and I've found him using his baby bumper as an awkward and seemingly uncomfortable pillow. Most frequently, he's on his side with the blanket he loves so much, close by though never covering much of him. 

It's one of the oddities that, as much as the boy loves his blanket he does not like being covered by it, or any other blanket. 

Funny then that I found him recently with his turtle covering his face. I suppose the above picture speaks for itself. 

Which is to say, that picture is proof positive to expect the unexpected, even when it comes to something as seemingly mundane as checking in on a sleeping toddler.

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