Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Food for Thought- "Discussions with a Teddy Bear"

With kids the general rule of thumb is when the time is right, you'll know what to do. Here's what I've come to learn, just cause time thinks it's right doesn't mean it knows what it's talking about. The truth is while most experts give you time frames on potty training, sleep training and speech training, it's very important to understand that doesn't necessarily mean your kid will be walking at 18 months or that they will be pros... trust me I'm still working on my own walking skills... but all that aside, this post is not a how-to on child training but a thought about being there when your child needs it.

Right before we moved we were right at the perfect time to start bed training... our daughter was comfortable in her own room, she knew the home and she loved her bedroom set-up... but before we could prep... life got real and we had to move...

The problem? How do you train your child to sleep in a bed? And for that matter how do you train your child in a bed that's not their own? For some parents I've heard this to be a walk in the park, but from personal experience... night time has become an all out battlefield... I've been kicked in the crotch, woken up in the middle of the night, had my daughter play my head like a bongo at 4 am, I've even sat on the other side of her bedroom door while she screamed for 4 hours straight until she fell asleep (seen below)... 

(Man, They're so peaceful when they're asleep.)

The truth is the answer is not fully clear, and I don't think it should be. When we started to train her I tried doing what was most convenient for me: I sang her my songs I liked when I was a child, I held her, talked with her and even prayed with her but each time her eyes would slowly shut I would book it to the door and in a matter of moments she'd scream and would call for me... It was frustrating because while one parent was with her laying on the ground next to her bed, laying on her 6ft teddy bear named "Oso", singing, the other was downstairs taking a breather catching up on facebook or the newest show on Netflix.

In order to push it forward the wife and I read blogs, medical reports and parenting books that all say different things... I have tried a multitude and in each case I found it failed. As I write this I see Mary Poppins standing on the other side of the door telling me to try a spoonful of sugar and in response I say this "Go! Feed the birds! Here's a tuppence for your bag!" (Ya! Mary, you take that bag and feed those birds!) 

If you haven't figured it out yet, I might not be mentally stable (JK) but I promise this post has a point that helps with a universal problem with children... so sit tight...

Every night as we kiss our girl, pray and walk her to bed, we then lay down next to her bed and sing her her favorite song "Twinkle, twinkle little star" or as she calls it "Cwrinkle"! And after you sing the darned song for the 100th time in a row for an hour it's hard to ever want to sing it again... but for some reason my wife does... and when she does it right, my daughter hits the bed hard and sleeps for hours... so a few nights ago as I laid next to my girl's bed on top of her 6ft bear (stuffed, not real... we're not made of money) I tried singing "cwrinkle" in a repetitive verse, I tried to shake it up and change it to the tune of she'll be coming around the mountain or some other song to make it tolerable... but when this happened she poked her little head over the guard rail and stared at me... and feeling feisty she yelled "Cwrinkle!" I resentfully looked at my slave master and changed the song to her liking. Time went by and I'm not sure if it was the dumb song melting the remains of my brain or what... but as if the bear I was laying on could talk I heard him ask me: "isn't what she really needs is to know that you'll be there for her no matter what?" I laid there for a moment , uncomfortably, knowing I was laying on a talking stuffed bear and for some reason he made sense... 

(It's official, I was talking to a 6ft teddy bear...)

He continued "You see each child is different, each child has strengths and weaknesses that others might not share with them and when that happens I have found the answer to just be there for them when they need you, how they need you." I looked up at the ceiling, clasped both hands together and said "Dang!!! Stuffed bear, that was deep stuff!" He then replied "I have deep stuffing"... (who knew bears had a sense of humor) but in all honesty, this figment of imagination that my mind made to cope with the moment had a point... what if my daughter wasn't just struggling because she wanted to be difficult, but because she sincerely needed someone to be there for her in a new room, in a new home with a new stepping stone and singing "twinkle" was the star guiding her in her life? But then it hit me... she was just being stubborn...Just kidding! 

In case I haven't beat the dead horse to a senseless pulp, I'll conclude with this, parenting (if not just being a human in general) relies on us just being there... it doesn't often matter if know what to say, it just matters that you're there for your child when they need you... and sometimes, when they don't...

-Somebody's Father-


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