The little guy, aka the perfect 8-month-old grandson, has turned into a sleep monster. It happened in the blink of an eye.
He was the angel baby, never much fussy, one of those infants with a rare and completely happy disposition. He was born a big baby, 9.6 pounds, and maybe that was part of it. Maybe, it was just his temperament. He was quick with the smiles, easy to soothe and slept through the night almost from the beginning.
It could have started when he first learned of his own accord to remove the pacifier from his mouth and stick it in backward. It could have begun when he was moved from a bassinet to a crib and then had to have the bottom of the crib almost immediately lowered because he was starting already to try to climb out. It could have begun when he started to pull himself up against any kind of furniture he could get his hands on and stand even before he could crawl.
Whatever the case, the little guy has now clearly decided sleep is an unnecessary evil. I’m not talking about only naps. I mean all kinds of sleep, at any time, for any reason. This means going to sleep. This mean staying asleep. This means closing your eyes, especially at night.
The little guy is bound and determined, from what I can see, to let you know that he doesn’t need sleep. Neither should you, he appears to think. This is a problem, needless to say for the adults in his life. He doesn’t seem to think so, but they have other thoughts.
Nothing so far has dissuaded the little guy. If you try and rock and sing him to sleep, he will fight you tooth and claw, like a cat that doesn’t want to be stroked. If you try to let him cry it out in his crib, he might easily outlast the best professional wailer anywhere in the world. If you tell him you’re unhappy with him, he’ll look at you with the most beautiful blue eyes in the world, clearly telling you it’s party time.
There’s so much to life – and what do you mean that you don’t want to keep going?
A short time ago, I visited him and his parents and we went to the beach for a little rest and relaxation. The relaxation part went pretty well. The little guy loves the ocean waves and is already learning to swim in the pool. He was good at playing ball. He got the throwing part down, but the catching part needs a little work. He also discovered if you have an adult who will let you crawl around the entire beach, it’s one big sandbox.
But when it was time for me to put him down for a nap, I learned the “rest” part is not in his vocabulary. I tried, like I have in the recent past, to tell him all about dreamland where the streets are paved with gold and rainbows are everywhere and so many toys can be found you would hardly believe it. He was impressed, you could tell. Yet, when I said the only way to get to dreamland was to close our eyes, how it was sleepy-time, he lowered his eyelids and then snapped them open quick.
Despite how much I fancy myself a master storyteller, I failed.
Already I had read him his two requisite stories. He knows exactly, though, what comes next and as soon as you shut the back cover of the second book, he begins to wail. So I put him in his crib. It was the first time, I have to say, I have ever seen an 8-month-old baby throw a 2-year-old temper tantrum. He stood in his crib, shook the thing as hard as he could and stomped his little feet. Still, I closed the door.
At this juncture in life, I lack his stamina or willpower. I waited as long as I could stand it and then removed him from his crib. I headed for the condo building’s elevator to give him back to his mother, who was at the pool. An older man in the elevator inquired of the little guy how life was going.
“He’s in big trouble,” I told the man. “He refused to take his nap.
The little guy looked shyly at the man, as if he were thinking over exactly what at eight months of age “big trouble” could mean. Then he gave the man a small look at triumph. Nobody was fooled for a minute by the last of any tiny tears in the little guy’s eyes. He knows he doesn’t need any sleep, and the world is just going to have to deal with it.
Linda Haac lives in Carrboro. You can reach her at email@example.com