December 9th, 2013

monkey pirate

On the occasion of Eowyn's first night without her mother

Dear Eowyn;
This weekend, you and I stayed at your grandarent's house while your mom went to a Christmas party with some friends. It was the first time in your life that you've had to go to bed without her to nurse you to sleep. In a way, it was a disaster, but it was also a really good experience for both of us. But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, telling you about how something is different than the normal routine without first explaining how things usually go?

You're six months old, almost exactly. You're still extremely tall for a baby. You can sit up without leaning on things, and you're just on the verge of being able to crawl. Right now you get up on all fours and sort of waggle back and forth, not quite sure how to get the legs to go forward without doing a faceplant. Which you do! But through it all you're incredibly cheerful, and whenever this whole crawling thing gets to be too confusing, with this leg there and that arm over there - you sort of lay down on your stomach, and lift all your limbs up like a sky-diver in freefall. This is sort of your neutral position, and then you can very purposefully and carefully start over again to get yourself in action all over. It's amazing watching you work this stuff out, I can see from the very serious look on your face that you're determined to work it out. Not so serious that if someone catches your eye you won't give them a giant smile, as per your usual reaction.

Sometime in the evening you get tired, and there's a certain tension in your eyes, and you make less happy burbling sounds and more tired-sounding complaints. So then your mom takes you to bed and sort of nurses you to sleep. At some point you get more sleepy than hungry, and we'll tuck you into your crib and have a little while to ourselves. Mostly you'll sleep for at least a few hours, but not always. The next step is getting you to go to bed on your own, but we're not there yet.

So last Saturday your grandmother and I were trying to get you to go to sleep since your mom wasn't home yet, and we didn't expect her till later. But, stubborn little monkey that you are, you absolutely refused to go to sleep until she got home. You weren't cranky about it at all - in fact you were almost supernaturally cheerful, laughing and giggling, smiling at everyone. But sleep? No way! I tried everything; I tried carrying you around and singing you sea-shanties ("Lowland away" is our mutual favorite, I think), feeding you a bottle, or just sitting with you while you were in your crib, dressed for bed. But you were totally animated, crawling around your crib, banging toys against the sides, chattering away in happy baby talk, and just generally showing no signs of slowing down at all.

After a big bottle of milk, you closed your eyes just long enough to fool me into thinking you might be asleep. But no, as soon as I slid you into the crib, you were up and shouting again. This time you were actually upset, and I couldn't get you to calm down until I put you in the front pack again, and walked around the house. And that's what I had to do until your mom got home, whereupon you were promptly out like a light and allowed no evidence whatsoever that we had any problems getting you to sleep at all.

Any other baby would probably cry and carry on when tired, but not you. You're just bright-eyed and playful, interested in everything around you. Hopefully we can get you on a schedule where you're sleeping through the night, but I'm grateful that you're such a cheerful baby. Soon enough you'll be crawling around and talking, but for now you're still just a tiny, happy monkey. Big smiles before bed, big smiles in the morning - and as much energy as the sun.

Your father.