Friday, February 5, 2010

He Walks in the Night

Don’t put your baby to sleep under silent conditions.

That’s what we were told when our son was born.

Numerous parents said, “If your baby gets used to complete silence when you put him down, he’ll never get to sleep -- even with the slightest bit of noise. Worse, he’ll wake up at the sound of a pin drop. Get your baby used to sleeping with noise, and he’ll sleep anytime anywhere.”

No problem.

And then my wife and I tried it.

The problem: Each night when we put the baby down to sleep, we were ready to go to sleep as well. We were new parents, and we were always tired, so making noise was a difficult task when all we wanted to do was sleep.

“Why don’t we leave the TV or the radio on?” my wife asked.

“Because I can’t sleep with noise,” I said. Even the music from the crib mobile kept me awake. “Does it really matter if it’s quiet or not?” I asked my wife.

Despite her answer, we did what everyone told us not to do and we put our newborn to sleep under silent conditions.

About two months later, we hosted a dinner for some friends and their newborn. When dessert was ready, the babies were ready for bed. So we put the kids down and headed back to the dining room for after-dinner conversation and sweets.

Our guests’ baby fell right to sleep -- even through our rowdy chatting and laughter. Our baby, on the other hand, was crying, giggling, laughing, trying to join in our discussion from his room.

“Have you been putting your baby to sleep under silent conditions?” the couple asked, busting us for disobeying a golden rule.
Guilty as charged, I said, “Of course not. He’s probably just hungry again.”

More food didn’t help. Rocking him to sleep didn’t work. And singing only made matters worse. Our baby just needed complete silence.

After that night, my wife and I decided we’d have to make it noisy when it came time for our son to sleep. He’d learn to nap under noisy conditions no matter how long it took.

Surprisingly, our efforts paid off in no time.

When the kid was 2, he slept soundly in his outdoor swing while I chain-sawed down a nearby tree. At 3, he slept through a grand slam at a near packed Dodger Stadium. At 6, I’m willing to bet a monster truck crashing through his bedroom and spinning donuts in the rubble wouldn’t wake him up.

But now we have another problem. Our son just doesn’t wake up, not even when he gets up.

One time he had a fever that required routine sips of medicine. One of those routine medicine sips came while he was asleep. My wife and I couldn’t get him up. We turned on the lights, screamed at him to wake up, and even stood him straight up on his feet and let go. He just stood there like a statue, sleeping, for 10 minutes while we funneled medicine down his throat.
“How does he sleep like that?” my wife and I asked each other.

We were forced to answer the question.

“Because we trained him to sleep anytime anywhere.” Evidently, he could sleep anyhow, too, even while in motion. We caught him walking in the night a few times.

At about 2 a.m. sometime last week, we had squirrels on the roof. I thought it was my son sleep-walking on the tiles, and I ran outside to rescue him before he fell off the house and got hurt. My neighbors said I should’ve checked his room before taking out my noisy extension ladder, some invasive floodlights and an ear drum-shattering megaphone.

Getting our kid up for school has become quite the problem. And getting him up after car rides where he falls asleep is also a problem. It’s all a problem.

My wife and I racked our brains to find a solution, and we eventually found one.

The plan?

It’s a simple revenge plot to completely wipe out those who told us not to put our kid to sleep under silent conditions.

-October 2009

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