12, 2001 - Sunday
I just knew this would happen. Every night last week in the cottage, Harry woke up at least once during the night and called out for us, mostly his mother. Maybe he does that every night and we only heard it because we were right there in the room, but either way, I was betting he'd be expecting us to come see him in the middle of the night this week as well. So, last night at 12:07am, Harry woke up and began to cry. His mother and I woke up and listened, hoping in that half woken state that it might stop. It did not and after a few moments of growing intensity, it became clear that it would not and I went to Harry.
I've been thinking a lot recently how our bedtime habit of singing Harry to sleep is not healthy in the long run and how we ought to try to get away from that. So, especially since it was not bedtime and was the middle of the night, I decided right away that I would not lie down and sing with Harry and instead took the approach of trying to explain to Harry that it was night and time for sleeping. He seemed to be surprisingly well, though not totally, appeased with what I was saying and almost seemed to understand. Unfortunately, that understanding waned when I tried to leave the room.
And, so it went for the next hour and a half. Harry wanted me to lie down and he said so. Harry wanted me to sing a song and he said so. But, that just seemed counter-productive, at least in the long run, and I had to be firm, even if it were going to take some time. I guess I must concede that I did lie down on the bed rather than let that become the central issue of Harry's discontent, but I stayed at the other end of the bed and did not lie beside Harry. I rubbed his head, but made sure not to get too close.
There was a point when I thought the head rubbing had done the job and I tried to get up to leave. But, Harry was not completely asleep and I was immediately back to trying to explain through the crying that it was time for sleeping. It had been well more than an hour by this time and I had worn thin. I did not sit down again and tried to leave the room. Harry jumped off his bed and followed. I picked him up and put him back in bed and we repeated that little charade until I just got so tired and frustrated that there wasn't much choice that I needed leave the room, for all concerned. As soon as I did I heard his feet running to his bedroom door and his cries of anguish right past the hallway, but he had done me in and I went back to our bed. His mother agreed that we just needed to let him work it out for himself, at least for a while.
Mercifully, it did not take that long, really, for us to hear the patter of his feet going back to his bed. The crying didn't stop, but knowing he actually would return to the bed on his own and not slump there by the door for the night was enough to rally our frayed parental nerves. I'm not sure how long it took, five minutes, maybe ten, for Harry to stop crying. It was after another trip to his bedroom door and back, crying all the while. But, when it did happen, it was like freedom. It was like falling into a loved one's arms after being away for a long time. What it was like was that this 20 month old person who we brought into the world was stretching the our wits and our tolerance and our self-confidence to an extreme, but Mercy had extended a gracious hand and touched us on the shoulder to say, yes, you're doing a good job.