Fatherhood Adventures

A new
stage has rocked my house of late.

My
2-year-old, Beckett, has developed an unfortunate aversion to going to bed.

This is
a big deal for us because this has never been an issue before. For about the
last year, Beckett has let us know when he was ready for bed by often
articulating it clearly. At an early age, he seemed to share his parents’ love
of and need for sleep.

That
was until last Sunday. For some reason, he wanted no part of his afternoon nap
that day, despite a few minutes prior saying he was ready for bed. I gave in
after about 15 minutes of listening to him cry and watching him pace in his
crib. I went into his room, pulling up some carpet next to his crib and was
easily able to soothe him to sleep for three-plus hours.

A day
later, it was the same problem with the nap and the same issue that night,
followed by similar behavior for the next day’s nap. This continued until
Tuesday night when my wife and I made a pact we had to let him cry it out.

We both
realized we could not be lying on the floor next to his crib every time he
needs to sleep. It would set a disturbing precedent and he would become
accustomed to it.

Other
friends I spoke to about the situation offered a few words of advice. “Don’t do
what I did,” I was told by one mother, who started bringing her daughter into
her bed until she fell asleep and then transporting her to her crib. That
continued for months and continues to be an issue today for her family.
Not wanting to start any of these bad habits, we told ourselves he has to bring
himself comfort. We have to let him “cry it out” and return to the days of
putting himself to sleep.

We kept
telling ourselves he’s not hurt. He’s safe. He’s exhausted. Nothing has changed
in his room. He has a nightlight. His diet has not changed. His crib is the
same. All is fine.

The
problem was all was not well for his parents. I found myself staring at the
monitor, watching and listening to him cry his eyes out while he paced back and
forth. In my head, he was screaming, “why daddy why?”

Nothing
sends me into a tailspin more than a huge crying session from one of my kids. I
have no problem ignoring the mundane cries associated with wanting another
cracker or more juice or not wanting to leave the beach or what have you.

What
tears me up is when I know one of them, or both, is upset and could easily be
comforted. This was the case here. I knew I could get him to sleep in five
minutes if I went up to his room, held his hand from outside the crib and
settled him down. That’s what we had been doing for the last couple days.

I also
knew that no long-term good would come from that, and I needed to toughen up to
the wailing and screaming emanating from the toddler upstairs.

It’s
worth pointing out I am not alone in this pathetic camp. While talking a big
game about how we cannot rush to comfort him, my wife talks a better game than
reality. On Monday night, after saying I had to walk away from the monitor and
distract myself, I turned and wondered where she was. A couple minutes later, I
checked out the monitor to see her hand patting him on his back. She had given
in and didn’t even tell me.

Throughout
the day on Tuesday, we were committed to being firm and making him find some
peace on his own that night. After reading him a book and doing the nightly
routine, Pam came downstairs at 8:10, while I was cooking dinner for us. By
8:12, she was heading back upstairs to his room.

Undoubtedly,
this is a phase and we will figure it out, but this is a tough one and I can’t
wait for it to pass.

Holding
hands with my son has always been a challenge.

However,
of late, progress is being made, and it warms his old man’s heart.

Although
it’s wonderful to walk the beach or a street hand-in-hand with my 2-year-old,
most of the time this is more of a safety concern than it is any sort of
bonding moment.

As a
matter of fact, most of the time I am the one doing the holding, firmly at
times when he’s trying to squirm away into traffic or run across the street.
When he’s particularly feisty, it’s more like we are walking wrist-in-hand.

When
he’s extremely troubled, it feels like I am dragging him around by his arm, as
he’s trying with all his 30-pound-plus might to get away or at a minimum not be
constrained.

There
are times when he’s cooperative, happy to hold my hand and other instances when
he wants nothing to do with it.

Around
the pool would be one of those times when he dreads it. This is an ongoing
battle, one he seems to relish.

Although
he loves being in it with me, his mind usually starts to wonder to what’s
happening outside the pool.  Eventually,
once he starts to be obnoxious and kicking where he shouldn’t be, I will let
him explore the pool deck.

After
weeks of being barked at, he seems to have come to terms with the fact he must
not run around the pool. I know this because when he’s doing his thing around
the pool he’s constantly muttering, “walk, walk, walk.” He’s either reminding
himself or mocking me.

What
gets me upset is when he starts busting out little five-yard sprints around the
pool just to test the proverbial waters a bit. He will run fast, quickly stop,
smile, look at me and say, “walk, walk, walk”, before running again.

That,
of course, prompts me to say, “walk”. I am actually considering whether I
should just say, “run”, and see what happens. That might make his head spin.

 

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