Monday, July 22, 2013

Memory Eighteen: Bedtime With Brad

     I'm counting down the last twenty days until Brad comes home with twenty memories of him.  Twenty was my memory of the day he was born and you can see it by clicking here.  Nineteen was about his first word and how he's never stopped talking since then.  You can find that here.  This is the third post in the series.
Trying To Slee
     Bedtime with Brad has never been easy.  He's always battled sleep as if it's trying to steal some life from him.  He's a natural born night owl who enjoys being awake when no one else in the house is.  I won't even try to pretend that I don't know where he gets that from.
     When Sherri's maternity leave was over and she returned to work after Brad was born I worked midnights while watching our baby boy during the day.  It would've been hard enough but I was also going to school three days a week.  Obviously, I needed Brad to nap.  Of course, he never would without a fight.
     I learned quickly not to try to lay him in his crib.  His crib was a place to sat him after he was asleep.  I would feed him but that never made him sleepy.  Eating has always been an adrenaline rush for Brad.  I would try to play with him and wear him out but that's never worked for this Daddy.  Brad could always outlast me.  The old car ride trick would normally work well with baby Brad but I was often too tired to trust myself to drive.  I tried a few times to stick him in his playpen but he treated that place like a prison.  So the only option I was left with most days was laying him down beside me and hoping he slept.
     Most days he just didn't take a nap and I wouldn't get any sleep.  Daddy's eyes were too tempting when I took my glasses off to sleep.  He thought they were balls to be played with. If Daddy left his glasses on then the glasses were a target or my cheeks.  He loved to pull my hair as if I needed any help losing it.  When he laid down by Daddy it was as if he thought I was one big toy.
     So I would hold him and try to sing and rock him to sleep.  Anyone that has heard me sing knows that the only way that would work was if my singing hurt his ears so much he went to sleep just so he didn't have to hear it anymore.  I knew right away he had inherited his parents hearing troubles, though, because he actually liked my singing.  Baby Brad liked everything Daddy did.
     I'd rock him in my arms and sing, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love..." and he would smile.  I'd hold him and sing, "Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee..." and his eyes would get heavy.  I'd lay him on my chest and sing, "Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd..." and he'd be asleep. Then I'd lay him beside me, with my arms around him, close my eyes, and poke, there'd be a little finger in my eye.
     So I would give up on sleep and lay on the floor and play with him.  I'd read him a book and play with his infant toys with him and roll a ball back and forth across the floor.  I'd enjoy my baby boy even though I was barely keeping my eyes open and I was watching the clock for when Sherri came home.  Then I'd sit him in my lap and listen to him coo at me and I would coo back and he would fall asleep.  I'd silently mouth, "Thank you," and slowly stand up.  I would gently lay him in his crib, take my glasses off, lay down, close my eyes, almost fall asleep, and Brad would start screaming.
     Most days when Sherri got home from work and asked me how my day was I would just hand her our baby, smile tiredly, and flop into bed.  The shit eating grin of fatherhood is my favorite Dad expression but my most common one is the exhausted smile.  Still, I miss those days when he wanted to play with Dad so bad that there was no way he would let me sleep. Sometimes now when I lay down to take a nap and he's so deeply involved in a video game that he barely notices, I wish that he would want to play with Dad so bad again that he wouldn't let me sleep.  Then I close my eyes and I feel a tap on the shoulder and hear, "Dad, I need help getting past this part, please."
     As he grew up he got better about going to sleep, of course.  These days he barely even whines about it.  He'll brush his teeth and grab a video game or a book and try to sneak it in bed with him.  He thinks he's clever but I always see what he's doing.  I remember sneaking a book into bed or sneaking out of bed to play Super Mario Bros., though, so sometimes I take them away from him and sometimes I pretend I don't see it.  I firmly believe parenting is as much about what you let your children get away with as it what you stop them from doing.  Also, as any parent will tell you if they'll admit it, sometimes you're just too tired to deal with it.

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