I've been quiet this week, mostly because we are in a new phase with Isaac; one that involves a) a massive sleep boycott and b) multiple nightly visitations when he wakes during the night. I haven't been too concerned about it, given that he's always been a good sleeper, he's not acting differently otherwise, and it's come with some nice gains in language and engagement--but it's definitely wiping us out over here.
And it's making me face a few facts about myself as a parent: how much unconditional love I give versus, well, tougher love.
There were a few moments at the Jumpstart conference a couple of weeks ago that clued me in to the ways therapists and other professionals view us parents. There was one point In Lynn Koegel's presentation about her "Supernanny" experience when she and Jo (aka Supernanny) were trying to get the boy to ask for something using language rather than grunting and crying. The child was getting progressively more distraught, as was Mom. And there was a ripple of recognition in the audience, one that said: "Yeah, I've been there when Mom (or Dad) caves at the critical moment. Happens all the time." "Okay," I thought, "easy for YOU to watch my child suffer through a milestone that most kids blow past without a moment's thought." But--let's be honest--I know it's not.
So here we are, night number I've-lost-count in Operation "For God's Sake, Go To Bed, Isaac!" We've tried sitting in the room, progressively moving closer to the door: "I want Mommy to get on the floor!" We've tried a kiss and a brief stay in the room: we lost count after putting him back in bed bed 30+ times in one night. Tonight, after 45 minutes in the chair listening to his musings about his favorite shapes and the various characters in "Bob the Builder" ("Mr. Sabatini! EXTREME Mr. Sabatini! I want a triangle!") I finally crawled into bed beside him. He was out in 5 minutes.
Clearly, I can't do this forever. I realize it's as much for me as it is for him--perhaps more. He'll be four this summer, and it seems fairly certain at this point that he'll be an only child. I can't help thinking that I won't have this option much longer--that I have to store it all up now for later, when he's older and we inevitably lose the physical closeness we have now. But we have to get through this phase, and he has to to be more independent at the end than he was at the beginning. And we all have to get some sleep. And I know I have to stop obsessing about whether this is some sort of neurological wake-up-call, and a signal of SOMETHING BIGGER, and just go back to the basic task of helping Isaac get into a new sleep groove, bit by bit. (I was talking about this a couple of weeks ago to some special-needs-parent friends and we decided that you know it's time to kick your kid out of bed when...his stubble scrapes your cheek in the middle of the night.)
So, what's your prediction? Will I cave again tomorrow? Or will consistency and common sense prevail? Tune in for another exciting episode. And please--wish me luck.