22, 2001 - Tuesday
Harry woke up at 12:14 last night to begin an episode that would last for about two hours. I had gotten home late and gone to bed only an hour earlier and found it particularly difficult to wake up. Thankfully, his mother got up and I had very little trouble going back to sleep. Unfortunately, that didn't last. Harry's mother got him to quite down, but every time she left him in the crib he would start up again. He even seemed tired and would quiet down for brief periods as if he were falling asleep, only to wake again with a cry. After leaving him alone for 15-20 minutes, during which time he quieted, then regained his horror, I went to see him. I had much the same experience as his mother. He quieted right down when I was there, but grew quite uncomfortable as soon as I tried to make an escape. Had he had a nightmare? Was he teething? It didn't seem like he wanted to be awake so it was hard to get too upset with him, except that his mother and I really wanted to be asleep ourselves.
After I went back to bed, Harry sputter off and on for several minutes until finally I decide that for any us of to get any sleep I would have to stay with him. I got up and took him to the futon in other room and, sure enough, he fell right asleep. So did I except that it's hardly as restful to sleep with Harry on top of me as it is in bed. At best I got a couple hours of sleep and when Harry perked right up at 6:00, I was not at all pleased. Why does it seem like the lack of sleep didn't bother him? Why is he so anxious to get up? Thankfully, his mother was getting up then anyway and mercifully came in to take Harry away, but the extra 30 minutes of lying there wasn't enough to make up for the rest of the night and I remained very tired.
When Harry's mother left for work, she left Harry and me sitting at the breakfast table. We usually eat breakfast together, with Harry sitting on my leg, sharing a bowl a cereal, then moving over to his booster chair for a banana. However, this morning was a little different. His mother had tried to give him cereal, without much success. Was he indeed tired and showing it? So, before she left, we put him in his chair for a banana, but after eating just one small piece he started fidgeting. I encouraged him to eat his banana, lest he leave with no breakfast at all, but he still refused.
Now, in my tired state I found it rather frustrating that Harry wasn't eating. While common sense says that "toddlers neither starve," toddlers do get cranky when they haven't eaten or slept well and Harry was off to a bad start. What's more, I was in no mood to deal with a cranky toddler. So, I let him sit there and encouraging him to eat a little more of his banana. Harry's mother has often advised that it's better not to fight about food: it's probably better more important to keep a child interested in coming back to the table for the next meal than getting him to finish this meal. It's a guidance we usually follow pretty well. And, I thought about that as I encouraged Harry to eat his banana. I also thought about how very tired I was as I encouraged him to eat his banana with a little more vigor.
I do think that it's important not to get too anger with a toddler very often. Firmness is important in some situations, but it's no a good idea to overuse, because theree are times, when safety is at stake for example, when you need to be able to call on a little extra volume than a child is used to hearing in order to get the necessary reaction. I did not reach that volume nor anger when discussing the banana, but in my fatiguee I could sense that I was headed in that direction. I got up to clean up the breakfast dishes. I think Harry could see my direction as well and he became oddly more benevolent about sitting in his chair toying with his banana. After the few minutes it took to clean up, and maybe it was even more than a few, I went back to sit with Harry and asked whether he was going to eat the two pieces of banana he had in front of him. He said "no," of course, but I sensed that he had the idea that he should eat them. I thought I could see the conflict between his current posture of not eating the banana, and knowing that he should. Maybe I should have stopped it right then and let him up, but Harry wasn't complaining and I was just as happy to be patient. I tried to make light of the situation, to talk about the banana in a funny way, to make his funny eating noise.
Eventually he turned the corner and put one piece of the banana in his mouth, then the other. Had I won? Had it been a battle? Had he just gotten hungry? It was a long time at the breakfast table, that much is sure. Had I scarred him by forcing him to eat a banana? What had he been thinking about all that time. Whatever it was, it had passed, because as soon as he finished the banana he had left on his tray and called out for "more," the rest of the banana that I had long since eaten .