Since Dashiell was about 6 weeks old, he has murmured a little phrase over and over when trying wind down for sleep (but having trouble), and this phrase sounds a lot like “going going going going.” It’s the way he tells us: I’m really tired, but the world is so interesting, I don’t want to miss anything, and now I’m overtired.
A long time ago, we started saying “going going going” back to him to let him know we understood, and we would say it to him when it was time for sleep. It’s become soothing for him, like rubbing his cheek or his head. We say it when we put him in the crib: “time to go going going going” instead of saying “nite-nite.”
(as an aside, he thinks his grocery cart is called ‘nite-nite’ since we put the shopping cart to sleep in the closet every night when we’re done playing, and we always say we’re putting it ‘nite-nite’)
In the past several weeks this phrase has begun to disappear from our world. His sleeping habits are now so ritualized and reliable that he doesn’t get so easily overwhelmed anymore…but he is vulnerable when:
-he learns a new skill, or
-routine gets upset by vacation
He is extremely sensitive to change. This sensitivity has forced us to go beyond “routine” into the world of “ritualization.” This has been immensely helpful for sleeping. The flip-side of this is that Detective D takes note of any small (perhaps not to him) change…a pillow out of place (“uh-oh!”), a lone sock on the stair (“uh-oh!”), a snack snuck in the living room (sly face!). It’s very funny and cute, but it also reminds me how he depends on us for his survival. And, he knows it.
When D was very sick with “atypical” pneumonia a couple weeks back, we naturally had to alter the routine in so many ways: no school, a trip to the doctor, standing in front of that funny machine (chest x-ray), taking antibiotics, syringing liquids in him. Naturally it was difficult for him to sleep through the night, so I would hold him and sleep with him. We took several naps together, too, him laying on my chest in his favorite spot, our soft merino wool Didymos wrapping us together. As I lay in the dark listening to his slight wheeze, cooling his brow with drops of water, time slipped away and nothing else mattered expect being there with him.
One morning I remembered it was my birthday. It hardly seemed important; it’s been years since it did. For a long time, I haven’t wanted any more “stuff,” and now that I have a spouse, a son (and a daughter!) I want even less for me, and more for them. The only thing that makes me happy is their happiness.
But it turns out there are still gifts worth getting, and I got one: a lovely email from my Mom.
I was laying in bed last night thinking about the night before you were born. I was so worried about you because you were way overdue and about the blood mismatch potential problem. Also worried because I had been exposed to the German measles and my mother couldn’t remember whether I’d had them. They had given me gamma globulin to hopefully prevent any birth defects. So, there I was worrying and then my labor started. Then, about 8 hours later I was holding you and so happy and relieved to have my tiny, beautiful baby girl. Aunt Laura called later as we were resting and told me her little girl had been born on the same day. I am so lucky and proud to have you as my daughter. Thanks for being you, an easy, smart child…I really enjoyed raising you. Have a wonderful day, and also please always remember how much I love you!