Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Be kind, unwind

When you have a baby and you read the Baby Whisperer and Dr. Sears and Weissbluth, you find that all these experts spend a great deal of time talking about the importance of creating a soothing bedtime ritual. This ritual is supposed to help your child transition from the stimulation of daytime to the tranquil peace of sleep. I am neurotic and overachieving and always try to do what experts say, so by four months of age, Primo was being bathed at the same time every night, massaged after bath to promote body-mind wellness, read to in the rocking chair, and placed in his crib awake, while the cool chords of Coltrane’s Ballads played on a little CD player in the corner. Same sequence, same time, same place, every night.

Fat lot of good it did us. The Sandman himself couldn’t get this kid to sleep without a struggle. Since he was a baby, he’s had a tough time settling down, and we have tried everything. Everything.

Including, most recently, allowing him to take David’s old Ipod shuffle to bed with him.. Since nightlights and stuffed animals, and good-dream-stories and bribes and threats didn’t work, we figured we’d try letting him relax to his favorite music.

We found however that it is somewhat difficult for a child to unwind whilst his two year-old sister hurls plastic babydolls at his prone form.

I knew something was up when, instead of the usual defiant but jovial yelling, I heard Primo wail. I ran in to find him hysterical and his sister jumping and down in her crib, beside herself with delight at what a terrible ruckus she’s caused.

“She hiiiiiiit me,” he sobbed, “In the heeeeeeead! With her BABYDOOOOOOOOLLS!”

And there you have it, the distillation of my kids’ relationship. Seconda beats Primo down, despite being half his age and less than half his size.

She’s tough as nails, that baby, and ruthless, too. At the playground yesterday, when these 6 year-old boys were chasing Primo around, he ran up to her and pleaded, “Go get those bad kids.” And she did, kicking them hard with her pink Converse high-tops and squawking, “GO AWAY! PRIMO IS MY BOY!” Whenever there’s a kiddie throw-down, I put my money on my daughter and man, does she deliver. But when she turns on her brother, well, action must be taken.

So I had to confiscate her babydolls and move her into the Pack N Play in our bedroom. I mean, Primo was afraid to fall asleep with her there.

Two minutes later, I heard him sobbing again. Back to the bedroom I went.

“What is it now?” I asked.

“I just keep crying,” he sobbed, “and the tears are going into my ears and making my ipod headphones sliiiip oooout.”


“Then just stop crying,” I offered. I mean, its not rocket science.

So, the next time you’re heading into a major pity-fest, and about to stew in your sorry state, just console yourself with the thought that at least your baby sister didn’t beat you up and give you tears in the ears. It should help.