Preschool reflections on death and resurrection

Trees do it

Trees do it

My son Hugo is four. He surprised me by his awareness and curiosity about death last fall. He seems pretty perceptive for a little guy, and sensitive – at least as far as how death would immediately affect him.  I was moved by his considerable fear when he hasn’t had much firsthand experience with loss. I’m still figuring out how to talk religion and philosophy with him, and I feel like I’m a little late on some things. So I broached the subject of Easter this week. Continue reading

Daddy and Hugo

Daddy and Hugo with wrestling belt

Daddy is confident in Hugo's pro wrestling potential

Each Monday that I’ve attended class at the School of Practical Philosophy, my husband and Hugo came with me to New York. Although it was a disruption to Hugo’s schedule, it seemed easier to be away from him only for two hours rather than the five plus hours including travel time if they stayed at home. This week, my husband opted to stay home with Hugo while I went into the city by myself.

It was definitely his decision to make, since I’ve never been away from Hugo for that long before. But more significantly, I would be away for bedtime. Hugo hasn’t wanted anyone but Mommy to put him to bed (or put him back to bed when he wakes up) for months now.

I kissed both men goodbye at 5:15 and was on my way. Around 5:50 I got a text from Rick that said “Fail.” It was too lighthearted to be a true emergency. Apparently Hugo found a way to take a header off the couch with Daddy standing directly in front of him to block. Rick took his eyes off of him for a moment to put a baby sling on in preparation for a walk. There were some tears that had since been quieted but all sounded well and I reassured Rick that  Hugo must be fine.

I told Rick that Hugo should be ready for bed around 7:30 given his nap schedule that day. I told him what I do each night to show Hugo that it’s bedtime. I figured he would carry Hugo around while he cried until he fell asleep in his arms to be transferred carefully to the crib. After all, Daddy has no boobies and that’s what Hugo wants at bedtime.

I was in class with my cell phone surreptitiously behind me on vibrate, in case of emergency, when I received several text messages. I excused myself and felt my stomach drop as I read the texts. Bedtime was not going according to plan and Daddy was not happy.

There followed a short, angry phone call that made me feel worse. Hugo hasn’t been cooperating with me at bedtime lately. He’s been so full of energy that I have to rock, dance, swing, nurse, and switch it up for a half hour sometime before he gives up and drifts off. It’s hard to guess what’s going to do the trick and Daddy was frustrated.

One surprising thing Hugo has done this week is settle himself down when I dropped him in his crib. Then I would pick him back up and finish off the sleep routine. Trying to explain all of this is like – I seriously can’t think of a simile that does it justice. Anyway, Rick left Hugo whining in the crib for ten minutes before he fell asleep on his own.

Fine! It doesn’t even sound terrible when I read it. Unfortunately, it didn’t come out that way when we had our short, angry phone call. After class ended we had a much more serene phone call and laid down some rules for next time. He’s not going to tell me when Hugo cries. I don’t want to know. He’s safe and well off with his Daddy, who loves him very much.

Happy Fathers’ Day to all the men who love, discipline, support and provide role models for their children.

Disrupting a carefully cultivated bedtime

I’m obsessed with Hugo’s sleep. There are pages of sleep journals scattered about the house, countless online laments and heartfelt requests for help. I read The No Cry Sleep Solution, Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book and many websites devoted to the topic.

Before he got sick the last week in March, Hugo would fall easily to sleep while I nursed him watching TV around 9:00 or so. Then he got sick and had to stay the night in the hospital (more on this later). Hugo had a backslide in the sleep department after that seemingly unrelated incident. He boycotted his crib entirely. He would only nap when I held him and would only sleep when I was next to him in bed.

I despaired. I felt guilty for co-sleeping when much of the advice of my friends included cry-it-out methods. Then things gradually began to improve.

I found other moms online who felt like I did about co-sleeping and not letting a baby cry-it-out. I began to trust my instincts and relax. I realized that this was a phase Hugo was going through and it would pass.

Fast forward to now. Hugo takes three naps a day in his crib (about a half hour each) and goes to bed “for the night” in his crib at around 6:00 or 7:00. He then wakes up every hour to be nursed back to sleep until coming into my bed around 10:00.

He loves our bedtime routine. It’s short but he knows what it means when I sit down with him in his room with his sleep monkey and the lights low.

But all bets are off when I have to take him somewhere at nap time or worse, bedtime! I attend classes at the School of Practical Philosophy in New York. It’s a long drive from where I live in central New Jersey but it means a lot to me and I missed it terribly in the months since Hugo was born.

Now that he’s a little older, we worked it out that Hugo, my husband Rick and I all go to the city on Monday nights so I can attend my class. Rick stays with Hugo in an unused room for the duration of class and I can breastfeed Hugo before and after. I think it’s the best solution for now, since I’m only away from him for two hours and can breastfeed instead of finding a place to pump and store breast milk. I would have to pump since I’m away from home for six hours total.

The problem is that Hugo’s sleep schedule is totally upended. He’s not too clingy and hasn’t shown any stranger anxiety yet, but he does insist that I put him to bed initially and every time he wakes up.  My class ends at either 9:00 or 9:30- well past even his late bedtime. In the three weeks we’ve gone to the school as a family, Hugo cried while waiting for me the first two weeks, then cried himself to sleep while Rick held him last night.

I felt terrible. Hugo rewarded us by sleeping for three hours straight in his car seat, though. I wonder why he sleeps so much longer in there than the crib? So on one hand I feel like I should stay home from now on so that Hugo’s nap and bedtime routines are carefully observed, but I’m grateful that he’s been flexible about coming into New York with me and going to bed so much later than usual!

It will be nice when Hugo feels comfortable with Daddy rocking him to sleep at bedtime. He’s been beautifully accommodating in other ways so far. I’m sure it will happen.

He’s so much happier in the car now after a phase of screaming his head off whenever he wasn’t sleeping. Here he is entertaining himself with a friend.