The other day, I was babysitting a sixteen-month old baby overnight. He was quite active in the evening with playing, having me read book after book, walking on my legs and running around the couch. But he eventually passed out in my arms after a warm bottle of milk somewhere between ten and ten thirty.
Then, however, around three in the morning, he woke in the playpen/crib that stood right beside my bed. Now, I’m not a parent and have no plans to be, but this young man is very special to me and I find myself doing things for him that I’ve never found myself doing for anyone else. Nor did I think I ever would, for anyone. Things such as changing a poopy diaper or getting up at five thirty in the morning to see him or sharing my food or being content to sit in a room for two hours and not do the work I have piling up but instead play hide-n-seek over and over because it puts a smile on his face that is absolutely priceless. But here it was, three in the morning, with me going on only three maybe four hours of sleep and really wanting more, and this young man deciding it’s time to get up and only sleep in my arms. He would not sleep on a pillow, on a couch, in his crib – no. To be fair, he was willing to sleep side by side me in my bed but his parents want that to stop. So without that as an option, he had to be held, either in my arms or resting on my shoulder. And the second I put him down in his crib, he immediately knew and started to cry. I would tell myself, okay, I’ll hold him until he falls asleep for ten minutes and then set him down. But sure enough, the second I tried, WHAH!!!!!! And back in my arms he would go.
But by four thirty, after an hour and a half of this little game, I decided enough. I put him in the crib and instead of picking him up when he cried, I got inside there with him. He kinda looked at me funny, almost like “what the hell are you doing in here?” and then he patted my face with a big smile, like “oh, you silly silly adult” but he got a kick out of it, curled up next to my contorted body and proceeded to fall asleep. So then, I got out of the crib. And yes, you guessed it. He woke up like clockwork but this time, instead of crying and demanding to be held, he understood that he needed to sleep in his crib. He watched me lay down in my bed and then he proceeded to lay down in the crib. It was almost like he finally got what was going on. It was sleep time. Not in my arms, but in his bed. And within about ten minutes, he was out like a light.