So we all know it’s very possible to overstimulate your sprout. Easily, one could even argue. Well, we just found out the hard way that it’s also quite possible to understimulate as well.
Then you find yourself in bleary-eyed shock as your little one uses you as a pseudo-jungle gym at two in the morning. Here’s what not to do.
It was a warm late summer Saturday, full of promise and fluffy clouds. My wife took Bub to work in the morning, as she normally does. This involved a short car ride and then copious holding for a couple hours, followed by a short car ride, followed by a nap, followed by lunch in the high chair. You can see where this story is going.
Lunch was almost immediately followed by an hour car ride to an apple orchard (good wholesome family fun, right?), about an hour or so of being carried around the grounds, an hour car ride back, dinner, a bath and bed. What was missing from this equation? Oh yeah, any exertion of energy whatsoever on Bub’s part. I knew we were forgetting something. But who knew it would end this poorly?
He started crying around 1 or 1:30. It’s really hard to tell sometimes. Correction: most times. This behavior is not overly unusual. Sleep training dictates we let him cry, and so we did. And so he did; and he was really wailing. When this happens nowadays, my general strategy is to get out of bed and try and fake him out. It’s like play-action; I walk into the kitchen, sometimes walk right on past his door, the theory being that if he hears someone else is there and awake, he will be instantly soothed. This theory is completely hypothetical and probably widely disregarded. Mostly because it does not, in fact, seem to work one bit.
Anyway, sometimes he will fall back to sleep with no interference. This, of course, was not one of those times. I moved to phase two: enter his room with ninja stealth (here’s where being a Pale holds me back a bit), insert his fikey, administer a couple fleeting yet soothing touches, then turn and dart back out like a boomerang in dreamtown. The theory being that he is half-awake and my presence is very dream-like, hazy, but oddly calming. This one, also, has been met with skepticism in the parental community. And for good reason—he was screaming again after about ninety seconds.
So I moved quickly into phase three. I came into his room and played the ‘Hey buddy, what are you doing awake?’ card. Very parental, very nurturing. Selfless, I might even say. He was sitting up in his crib, bad sign (though I no longer believe his body to be demonically occupied—apparently sitting up is “normal”). Diaper check yielded nothing, and yet he was inconsolable—tensed up, squirmy, malcontented. I took him out of the crib and rocked him for a while, garbled to him in a nice, gravelly, sleep-deprived baritone that, in hindsight, probably frightened him more than anything. He was having none of it.
Phase four is reserved for emergencies only, like when we were at my parents’ house, he was in new environs, new sleeping quarters, and letting us hear all about with a consistent, shrill shriek. This, I decided, was one of those emergencies. I brought him into our bed. He was still squirmy, but finally did quiet down after a few minutes. Then ten minutes later I hear my wife say, ‘Bub, stop pulling my hair!’ Thus did endeth phase four. We were now in uncharted waters.
I took him back into his room, turned on the light (change of stimuli) and took off his PJs (change of air quality). We were on the guest bed in there (those poor, poor boarders) and as soon as the clothes came off, Bub was ready to party. He immediately rolled over and started crawling around the bed like that guy at your party who gets like his seventh wind and will never leave. I lost track of phases, but this is what happens when you don’t exercise your baby.
Though I in no way recommend this, it was kind of fun, once we got to this point. I had let go of the notion of attaining any sleep, and it’s absolutely impossible to be upset at a happy baby. So we frolicked in the wee hours of the night, like some sort of junior slumber party. Eventually, we ran out of gas and fell asleep there in the guest bed, one of us wiser, both of us happier.