Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sleep Tight!

My latest piece for GodlyDaddy.com ...

If I had a race car for a bed I would sleep in it every night. I would do so without complaint, especially if I could luxuriate on it for ten to twelve uninterrupted hours.

So why won’t our three-year-old son Cooper sleep in it, or sleep at all, for that matter, now that he’s out of his crib?

When we first got rid of the crib, he slept fine for about a week. And then, newly potty trained, he decided that it was a good excuse to get up ten times a night to go to the bathroom.

Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him that every time he flushes an angel gets its wings.

It wasn’t much later that when I was getting ready for work at 2:30 one morning I found him sleeping on the rug in the guest bathroom. The light was on, his little stuffed Pooh bear was at his feet and his head lay on his “lovies,” two old Gerber burp cloths he clings to as tiny blankies.

I know that Proverbs 22:6 says to Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, but not departing from the bathroom at all is a little extreme, no?

When he isn’t asleep in the bathroom, he often crawls into bed with Darling Valerie after I’ve gone to work, and she’s too exhausted to care at three in the morning.

So where does our mini Cooper get it from? He gets it from his night owl daddy, that’s who.

One of my earliest memories is of being carried back to bed by my dad. During naptime at school while on my tri-fold mat I would use my fingers and imagination to play football games on the floor.

When I was about ten I remember my dad telling me about how I was sleepwalking into the living room, so the next night I tried to get away with it while aware of what I was doing. He wasn’t fooled.

Nowadays, of course I realize how easy it is to catch your kids when they are trying to hornswaggle you.

For example, how did he learn when turning three that if he bats his eyelashes, looks at you with giant sympathetic eyeballs and says, “I love you Daddy” that he can get away with anything?

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve said that we have to “nip this in the bud” the past few years. Doesn’t matter what we’re nipping, just lots of stuff have to get nipped before they turn into a lifelong challenge.

Every three weeks we seem to enter a new phase that is the most challenging so far, then experienced parents say not to worry, it “gets easier as they get older.” No, it just gets different!

Then again, if the worst I can say about my kids growing up is that one of them likes to occasionally sleep in the bathroom, I can live with that.

- Jeff Rushing

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