Monday, September 03, 2007

Sleeping Alone

A week ago, on erev Shabbat, my son slept in a bed alone for the first time. My husband and I approached this with a great deal of trepidation, mostly because we had a feeling we would be seeing a LOT of him climbing in and out, and forced returns to bed. We childproofed the room anew, for the moment at which he decides, alone for the first time, to climb the bookshelves. And I suppose we saved ourselves some agony by putting him in a double futon instead of a single bed, lower and wider to prevent falls.

He did not get out of bed once. It’s been a week, and still no getting out. I suppose the psychological barrier has been built, and lucky for us, it has worked. But he is lonely. There is much more chatter, and he sings to himself and tells little stories about his day. He has asked to have us come and sleep with him, and asked to come sleep in our bed. Yet he has slept longer in his own bed (and later in the morning) than he ever did in his crib.

My husband and I struggled to find some kind of effective Jewish ritual with which we could together welcome this change, but we could find nothing that seemed appropriate for a toddler. And being the parents of a toddler, we definitely did not have the energy to create new ritual, although in retrospect, it would have been meaningful. We “surprised” him by showing him his “new room,” talked about how exciting it would be, and added shehechiyanu to our bed time ritual. It worked perfectly (so far).

We tried to keep him in the crib for as long as possible, mostly at the behest of our pediatrician, who believes that children under 3 are safer in cribs than in beds. We bought into that rationalization, but always under a watchful eye, because our son is likely to propel himself off the tippy top of the playground equipment, so why not the bed too? But certainly, keeping him in the crib kept him, in our minds, as our little baby. And now I begrudgingly accept that he is not a baby anymore, he is a boy (as he says, in his own words). And I am no longer a person with a baby, but a mother.

Of course, my parents and in-laws then asked when he was going to be potty trained, and did that mean we were thinking about another baby. Does it ever stop?

1 comment:

phyllis@imabima said...

It is so hard to make these changes with our children, it's so hard to see them grow up even from something as simple as the crib or moving out of the highchair. I love that you chose Shehecheyanu because it is such a nice all-purpose blessing for these "firsts". If you still want more, and in this case, the ritual is truly for you as the parents, there are some "weaning rituals" that might do the trick. One is here: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/lifecycle/Other_Life_Events/InspireNewCeremonies/Weaning.htm
and you could try http://www.ritualwell.org/lifecycles/babieschildren/weaning/

Also, a Havdalah of sorts would work....b'hatzlacha! (good luck!)