b Papa Dog's Blog: Bodies, Rest, and Motion

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Bodies, Rest, and Motion

Raising a young child, I think, is largely about time management. That is, getting anything done while raising a small child is all about managing who sleeps when.

Yesterday, because it was a day that evidently has some cultural significance to Christendom, I was allowed to leave work about ten minutes early slightly buzzed on a cheery Chardonnay served in a plastic cup. That extra ten minute head start somehow got me home about a half hour earlier than usual, and since there was still daylight we decided to take a family dog walk. We didn’t take a long walk – just to the mailbox and back – but the forward motion of the stroller worked its usual magic and by the time we got home, Baby Dog was fast asleep. It wasn’t yet 6:30, and she had already had her afternoon nap, so this was something of a quandary. Do we wake her so that she’ll got to bed in her usual range between 7:30 and 8:30, or do we just call it an early bedtime? We let chance decide. Since taking her out of the stroller and putting her into the crib didn’t wake her up, we called it bedtime. We had a quiet dinner à deux and a leisurely evening of Mummy and Daddy time. Around ten, Baby Dog woke and had a little mother’s milk. She settled back down to sleep afterwards, as did Mama Dog, and I plopped down on the couch to watch my stories with the headphones on until I felt tired. (I’m checking out that new version of Longstreet, which is actually pretty good even though it’s being relentlessly promoted.) Around eleven, I was feeling kind of tired and thinking of shutting the box off, so of course that’s the moment Baby Dog chose to wake up.

I went in to shush her back to sleep. I keep wondering when the shushing thing is going to stop working. The premise is that it mimics the sound of the womb, and one would think that’s no longer a recent enough experience to be much comfort for her. Still and all, it usually does the trick. At first, this seemed no different. Even though she was crying out, she was mostly asleep, and a little shushing and a gentle rocking at her crib put her back out. I sat down to watch a little more of my show, and she started crying again.

This went back and forth a few times; cry, shush, sleep, cry, shush sleep. Then I made the crucial error. I picked her up, meaning to hold her as I shushed her. I should have known better. In fact, I did know better, but I was groggy and thought it would be worth trying something new. As long as she was prone and cozy in the crib, all it took was a little susurration to put her back to sleep. The minute she was up on my shoulder, though, she was moving about and waking up. in seconds, she was wide awake, thrashing about, and babbling. Since she was saying “Mamamamama,” I thought maybe she was hungry – she hadn’t had a proper dinner – so I stumbled into the bedroom and presented her to Mama Dog. “She’s wide awake now,” I said. Mama Dog, bleary with sleep, asked “Whaddaya want me to do?” The milk bar, apparently, was dry.

Not knowing what else to do, I spread a blanket out on the living room floor and let Baby Dog play. At first, thinking she’d got to sleep soon, I left her in her sleep sack, and watched her rolling about on the blanket, playing with toys, babbling, slapping the floor with her hands, and generally behaving as though it was sunny midmorning. Bemused, I lay next to her in the dark and wondered when I’d be allowed to sleep. She showed no signs of tiredness whatsoever. I took her out of the sleep sack and gave her some toys. She was having a jolly old time.

Mama Dog got up and looked in on us around midnight, astounded that the girl was still up. At long last, Baby Dog started slowing down, doing a little eye-rubbing, and generally looking like she might again be susceptible to sleep. I put her to bed, and she cried. I tried shushing a bit, but she was clearly too awake. I was a bit stymied. When she had at least quieted down, I got in bed and lay awake, listening to her intermittent chattering and crying. It seemed she was winding down. At 12:45, the house was quiet. I got up and looked in on her. She was asleep.

By 7 a.m. she was awake again, and Mama Dog got up to deal. I tried to sleep in, but Doggy Dog, having decided that the time had come to start the day, stood by the bed whining at me to get up and let him out. I kicked him out of the bedroom and buried my ears in the pillows. I just wanted to doze until 7:30 or so, but it was futile. Baby Dog was starting her morning chatter, my stomach was rumbling, and I had to face the day.

We’d had some vague breakfast plans with the Pirates, but by the time they called we were already feeding Baby Dog and thinking about feeding ourselves. The thought of waiting in line at a breakfast place on a Saturday morning didn’t appeal. Mama Dog made tentative plans to go with them to the Farmer’s Market in late morning instead.

Poor abused Doggy Dog waited patiently for his morning walk. I had a videotape to pass on to El Dingo, so I suggested that we take a family walk to his place in Temescal to deliver it. That we did, a pleasant forty minute round trip through a tree-shaded path. Predictably, Baby Dog fell asleep in the stroller on the way back. I tried dully to figure out what to do with myself and a half hour had passed before I realised I should take a nap.

While I was snoozing, the Pirates called Mama Dog. She told them Baby Dog should probably be done her nap by around 11:30 and they could go out then. Shortly before 11:30, they emailed to say that Baby Pirate was now down for a nap and that they’d call when she was up.

Sometime around noon, I was again playing on the living room floor with Baby Dog. The phone rang. It was Mama Pirate. “Baby Pirate’s still asleep,” she said. “That’s okay,” I told her. “Mama Dog’s just gone for a nap now. I’ll have her call you when she wake’s up, but Papa Pirate will probably be asleep by then.”

In the end, our breakfast with the Pirates which was delayed to a morning outing with the Pirates turned into dinner with the Pirates. We were supposed to go over to their place, but even that didn’t work out – the battery on Mama Dog’s car crapped out, so the Pirates had to come here instead. That at least can’t be blamed on sleep schedule.

Now the day’s gone by and Baby Dog is asleep at her normal time. If we play our cards right, tomorrow we’ll have one more crack at staying awake for an entire weekend day.


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