Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Fight Is On

The Lad just turned 7 months a week or so ago, and already we're engaged in our first battle of wills with him. He's grown accustomed (our fault) to being rocked to sleep, and will not go to sleep at night if you lay him in his crib while still awake. So we've started to put him down anyway, and let him learn to fall asleep.

Easier said than done.

The instinctive reaction of any parent (well, any decent parent) is to want to rush to our baby's side as soon as he cries. Crying is a natural reaction to distress, and is a good indicator that something's wrong. Usually, something mundane but nonetheless worthy of attention, like a dirty diaper of an empty belly or an "owie" (that's the medical term, laymen may know it as a "boo boo"). It can also be an indication of more dire distress.

But in this case, it's him being pissed because we're not giving in to what HE wants.

Well, not right away.

The truth is, it's not going so swimmingly. We're supposed to let him fuss for about five minutes, then go tell him he's alright, make sure he's covered and comfy, and then leave him in the crib. That, at least, is the theory. In practice, we make it about 2-4 minutes between each time we respond (due to the mounting fury of his cries), and after 3 or 4 times, we usually give in and pick him up, rocking him to sleep as he wants.

So we're in a no-win situation. If we leave him in his crib, his cries break my heart. My greatest fear in life is that I would ever neglect my child. If we pick him up, we fail to help him learn, and are spoiling him. My second greatest fear in life is that I will fail my child in rearing him right.

I've a feeling that while the battle of wills over going to sleep will one day be over, the deeper internal struggle will go on forever.

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