Patience is a Virtue
Tick … tick … tick! No, I’m not watching the end of a ballgame. (Well, actually I am checking out the end of some ACC hoops, but that has nothing to do with this month’s article.)
The clock is ticking down. My stomach is knotting up. One-year-old Brayden is crying himself to sleep, and I have yet another gray hair, thanks to the process. You see, my wife, Charisse, and I had gotten into a routine of putting Brayden to sleep by laying him down on one of our laps and letting him drink water out of his bottle. The process calms him down. The problem is, the process can take five minutes or three hours. Most pediatricians will tell you young children need to learn to settle themselves, by themselves.
We know this from firsthand experience because our 4-year-old daughter, Sage, who is a great sleeper, used to be just like Brayden. We waited until Sage was 17 months old before altering the good-night process. It was easier than I expected. In no time Sage was in dreamland. So, with the wisdom of experience guiding us, Charisse and I decided to change Brayden’s sleeping habits, now.
Tick … tick … tick! There are different ways to get a child ready for sleep. Most involve some form of putting the child in the crib; talking in soothing, comforting tones; turning off the lights; and leaving the room. Ideally, your son or daughter then rolls over and goes to sleep. I say ideally because the process doesn’t happen overnight (pun intended). Just like the Bobcats need to practice to perfect their plays, a baby needs repetition to understand what is expected.
When basketball players don’t understand something, they ask a coach. When a baby is learning, he or she will cry … and cry some more.
Tick … tick … tick. This is where a parent needs to exhibit tough love. When the child cries, you cannot run back in, turn on the light and pick up your little one. You have to deal with the noise. In Brayden’s case, the cries are blood curdling (oops, another gray hair). Fortunately my wife has been the tough one. Brayden would cry, I would head upstairs, and Charisse would block the hallway to his room.
At first it took Brayden 30 minutes of crying to settle down. The next night, it was 35 minutes. Then it was down to 25 minutes. The time it took for him to settle down for the night continued to drop, and then I pulled a rookie error – something straight out of a frustrating Panther loss.
On this night, after Brayden has fallen asleep, I open the door and sneak in the room to check on him. The floor creaks and he wakes up cranky and crying. My wife is glaring at me. I’m glaring at me. Tick … tick … tick. Eventually, Brayden falls back to sleep, my wife stops with the death stare, and I go back to watching basketball. Unfortunately, my team is losing by five points with 30 seconds to go. My insides tighten up. Tick … tick … tick!