Testing Boundaries In the Sleep Regimen

We’re about three weeks into a new sleeping regimen for Harrison. It’s going pretty well, on the whole. He’s sleeping through the night (although it takes him a while to fall asleep many nights), and he stays in his room until his designated time (6:30am), even if he is awake.

For the most part. In the space of writing the above, he has opened the door to his room through times, and then shut it as soon as he heard me coming. In a game playing mood, he is.

Yesterday morning, I was doing yoga in the back sun room, with just he light from the street coming in through the windows. It was about 5:40. I looked over at one point (door just opened; I’m going to ignore it and see what…yup, he just shut it), and there was a silhouette of a tiny human standing in the dining room, watch me. He is learning the Stealth Mode of his toddler hood. I went over, walked him back into his room, and he stayed there until his wake up time (he’s playing in his room now, singing.)

When I reported this to Betsy yesterday, she noted she was napping on the couch while he was playing the other day. She noticed it had gone silent, and she opened her eyes to see him standing right in front of her, staring at her.

(He just opened his door again. I can’t tell if he’s out. Going to give it a second.)

(I was sure he was out, but he shut his door when I got within a few steps of his room.)

***

One of the key components of this new sleep regimen is to engage with him as little as possible when he comes out of his room before his wake up time. We don’t make eye contact. We gently take him by the hand, and escort him back into his room, and shut the door. No emotion. No pleas for him to behave. We have stuck to that by and large, except for a couple of occasions when it was clear he was game-playing, and wanted us to keep walking him back into his room for his enjoyment. In those cases, we (he’s out now…or at least his door is opened) have spoken to him, reminded him of this “sleep rules”, and expressed disappointment because “we know you can understand this”. I had no clue if this was going to work the first time we did it, but surprisingly, it works (for now.) (He’s back in his room with the door shut now.)

That component – as little engagement as possible – has been helpful. It makes things simpler: He has a job, to test his boundaries. We have a job, to enforce them.

He’s pushing them this morning, no doubt. But it’s 6:18, and he’ll be able to come out soon, and we’ll eat breakfast and listen to some music.

Picking Up Your Child From Daycare On the Day of Yet Another School Shooting

I sit in the queue three cars back to pick up my son from daycare, and read the news story: Two dead, several injured, the shooter in critical condition after shooting himself, at a school in California, this morning.

The story has been developing all day, the main picture different every time I’ve checked this afternoon. Now, the photo is one of a father and daughter being reunited near the school sometime after, and I can picture the story that goes with that: The dad learning of the shooting, being terrified for his child’s safety, rushing through traffic to get to the school, and the incredible relief of seeing her, knowing she’s safe.

I’m now two cars back in the queue.

I think to the future, and imagine my own child and me in a scenario like this. I imagine getting the news there’s been a shooting at his school. I imagine the terrified calls and texts between Betsy and me as we rush to get to the school, not yet knowing if our child is okay. I imagine that eventually we learn he is, because I cannot let myself play out the alternative in my head.

I’m now one car back.

Before that day, though, a day I pray never comes, I imagine the day that all too likely will, the one where my child will have to go through his first “Active Shooter” drill at school. No doubt, his teacher will do everything they can to make the scenario as not scary as possible, but still, my son will have to imagine he is trying to hide or run from someone with a gun.

I wonder how I can have any sort relationship with some of my family after that day, family who is staunchly against any sort of reasonable gun control. Family who has resolutely told me they never want to discuss the issue with me again, because they have a right to “believe what they want.”

I’m now pulling into the one dedicated spot in front of my son’s daycare, and I am grateful it is an in-home one with no visible outdoor signage or indication of what it is, other than the street signs indicating the one spot is reserved during specific hours. Because, yes, I know, who would want to shoot up a daycare, but anymore, how can you know?

I think about the news of the day, and I find myself grateful that it’s only two kids dead, that the shooter had only a handgun, and not some sort of assault weapon.

I get out of the car, walk up the front steps, and I know I will hug my son extra hard when I see him in just a couple of moments. As I wait in the small foyer, I am confronted with this sign.

It’s always been there. I’ve noticed it before, but it looms a little larger today.

The door opens a little more quickly than usual, my son’s already bundled up and ready to go. I whisk him up in my arms. The daycare worker and I briefly chat about his day, and then we are out in the cold, and I am more than a little extra grateful for him today.

He is oblivious to anything different. He just wants his snack, which Daddy has forgotten.

He whines a little. I say I’m sorry for forgetting, but we’ll be home in a just a few minutes. I load him into his car seat, and we drive out back into the street.

A Balance of Social Media and Social Justice Activism

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

When Betsy and I talk about social media, she often remarks that we are still in the “wild west” days of the medium.

I like the imagery “wild west” evokes, maybe because I watched a lot of westerns with my dad when I was a kid. The “wild west” had laws, but was also in many ways lawless. People were figuring out what worked as they went. It was a time of great opportunity, but it was brutal, especially, of course, to anyone not white.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how much I should engage in social justice causes on social media. No doubt, it can be time-consuming, and if not careful, one can find themselves going down a lot of mentally unhealthy avenues. It’s easy to get sucked into soul-defeating fights with people who are committed to not changing their minds, if not outright trolling in some cases.

As a largely self-employed person, time is money. I have a family to support. So sometimes I feel like choosing to get heavily invested in a post here or a thread there is simultaneously a decision to not be working towards making money and helping to provide for my family. And yet, I am mindful of the world my son is going to grow up in, and I do feel that online social activism is an important part of shaping that world, even in my very small capacity.

Finding the balance is difficult, and I don’t have any clear answers, but I’m working on it.

Freedom of the Early Morning Routine

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

About a month ago, we hired a sleep expert to get Harrison’s sleep under control. There’s been some bumps in the road with him testing boundaries on occasion, but on the whole, it’s been a game changer. (Perhaps more on this, and a review of the company and consultant we used later.)

This means we’re all sleeping better, and I have been able to get back into a routine of waking up early and having some time to myself before the rest of the house wakes: Light yoga, journaling, getting my day in order, etc. It’s done so much for my mood and outlook.

A letter I would write to my younger self, or anyone who doesn’t have children or someone else to be a caregiver for: Make time first thing in the morning for yourself. Wake up just 10 minutes early. Stretch. Write. Take care of yourself before the world piles on the rest of the day. Make it a regular part of your life.

Your future self will thank you.