Monday, October 20, 2008

Sleeping With My Daughter

It started innocently enough. Thing 1 began navigating the prison walls known as her crib at about 16 months, so we moved her into the spare double bed across the hall. That became my first mistake.

The bed was big enough and comfortable enough for two -- obvious, given it came from my swingin' bachelor days. (Did I mention it was only lightly used during my bachelor days? Insert your best guess as to why.) Nearly every night Thing 1 and I snuggled in until she fell asleep. One successful strategy consisted of me yawning as often and loudly as possibly to pass on the nighty-nighty contagion. It worked so well that most nights I conked out right next to her.

We were at the point of breaking this relationship off for the first time when she developed a horrible muck-filled cough. It was aspiration pneumonia -- a complication of what we later learned was her adventure with the autoimmune disease juvenile dermatomyositis. Now I felt a need to be there next to her in case she started choking on her own gunk during the night. That, and -- I was assured -- I was not required to assist in any way, shape or form with the breastfeeding of Thing 2 going on in the master suite.

Flash forward a few years to a new home, our current one. The bachelor bed has gone to a mysterious Mexican man from Craigslist under condition he'd used it only for religious experiences. It was replaced in our home by an even more comfy, more roomy model from Ethan Allen. The cough is gone but now Thing 1 had another issue -- monsters.

I assured her the contract we signed on the house had a "no monster" clause. I produced a state-and-county licensed inspector (who looked and smelled much like our old newspaper delivery guy) who certified the entire property as sprite-, spirit- and demon-less. I even walked her about her pink bedroom with a lit candle while I chanted sacred anti-beastie hymns that only the most discriminating ear would have recognized as vaguely similar to what the monks sing before the Holy Hand Grenade sequence in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

It took quite some time, but in the Year of Our Republican-Endorsed Lord 2008, we finally had two breakthroughs. First, Thing 1 stopped requiring me to cradle her head with my arm and shoulder. This has helped restore full feeling and circulation to the arm I use to change our home's many lightbulbs. Ah, my screwing skills haven't been this sharp since the Clinton administration. Second, one day this spring, Thing 1 made a proclamation:

"I'll stop needing someone to sleep with me when I start third grade."

Third grade is now entering its eighth week. It's been a slow, gradual withdrawal as we've tapered our co-habitation time from five minutes to now just 30 seconds. In a week or two, I expect to be able to give her a peck on the forehead, flick the switch and walk away.

Unless, of course, someone, say, leaves the front door open a little too long on Halloween night …
If I didn't put you to sleep, go to and give me a smiley face before I fall any lower in the rankings.


  1. You're a trooper. I totally respect that, despite the fact that it goes against the way I respond to my kids when it's nighty-night time, which is to pretend that I am dead when they call out for assistance, thus leaving their father to explain to them that (A) Mommy doesn't love you so much between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. and/or (B) God forbid, I'm really dead.

    You are a better person then me, sir. Will this be a problem in our raging hot Internet relationship? Also, will I ever get off the whole "I'm dead" kick when I come here?

  2. Dude, you're really good. We made Princess go cold turkey from the day she was born without Mommy and/or Daddy (unless there was sickness or one of us on an extended business trip). We were so mean, that when she was old enough to sit up in her crib and look over the bumpers, that we would crawl up the stairs and peek down the hall into her room. When we'd see her head pop up, we'd hit the floor faster than Forrest Gump in the Vietnamese jungle being chased by Charlie. Good thing wood floors are slippery enough for us to slide down the hall without (hopefully) her seeing us.

    She's 11, and loves that story. My knees and elbows have yet to recover.

  3. Good for you, dude. I've staunchly guarded against sleeping with my kids, at all costs. Sometimes I'm sure I miss out on the snuggles, but other times, I remember how much I like my space.

    Good luck, dude.

  4. Who is giving whom the peck on the head and going to their own room?

    Sometimes it's harder for the big kids.

  5. It's only slightly surreal reading this while putting my 10 month old down. I think there's enough left in the bottle to even let me finish this comment.

    Our 3 year old ended up back in our bed after a rough daycare transition. Looking forward to getting him back to his room. Either that or I'm going to start sleeping in his Thomas the Train bed myself.

  6. we struggled with the bed thing -- i desperately wanted my first in, my second less so, my third and last: come to me baby! -and the bottom line is: with all of 'em, it hurts equally when they go for good.

    but it would hurt A LOT more if they were fifteen and still not be able to break free. she says, focussing on the positive.

    dude, you are an awesome dad.

  7. Ha ha! You're funny. Good post.

  8. I have two little girls snuggled in my bed right now and it will take every ounce of willpower to move them out instead of snuggling. I'm right there with you.

    BTW, catchy title, should bring on some fairly creepy pervy lurkers.

  9. Flash Forward: Thing 1 in is that pubescent primordial soup (aka. Middle School. There will be a rare occasion when she not only acknowleges your existence but actually wants/needs her daddy. You will fly to her room faster that Rocky the Squirrel on amphedamines. And, for a brief moment, you will say a blessing to the boy that just broke her heart. His Last Rights can wait 'til the morning.

  10. Had to do the same thing with my middle boy. Daddy was gone to Kosvo and he slept with mommy cause she was raising not only a brand new baby but also sissy. Mommy was tired as hell and it was so much easier to take care of him when he was in bed with me.
    When daddy came home we started to put him in his own bed. After a month of crying while in his own bed he finally gave in. Now he only sleeps in the same bed if he is sick or gets scared. Thankfully Daddy kicks monster butt so well that we havent had any monsters in at least a year now.

  11. Lol. We had the same thing with our son. It started with a flu (he has asthma) and gradually crept off. I had to retrain myself to share a bed again.

  12. What FADKOG said. I am totally passive aggressive with the nighttime wakeups. By the way, are you open to housecalls for your de-monsterization services? couldn't hurt to try The Boy's room.

  13. The Monty Python song is reknown for its ability to drive away evil spirits.

    Good choice sir!

  14. I heard a quote before my daughter was born something like a mom (or dad) has to be within 3 feet of their daughter (or son) otherwise it just feels off. I'm finding that person was wrong. It's more like 3 INCHES...It's impossible to let go. It just feels right.

  15. Any advice on how to make my 4 year old's stuffed animals stop coming to life? Apparently every night, or should I say morning, she hollers for me - I run, she says "Monsters", I do the walk around and assure her "No monsters, baby". She points to the stuff tiger, teddy bear, Barbie Doll and says

    "No! They. Are. Alive."....

    And then she ends up in my bed - with her head snuggled gently next to Daddy, and her feet shoved into my freakin' ribs.

    Scam? I think so.

  16. I love the part about the inspector! Thanks for the much needed laugh.

  17. I had one moment of brilliance this year, and it was regarding the monsters in the room issue.

    Wee Man flipped out one day about the monsters in his room. I got my handy dandy perfume bottle, and spritzed the room a little, telling him, "Monsters don't like the nice mommy smell. Now that your room smells like a nice mommy, they won't come back forever and ever." And he believed me.

    And that is why, no matter how stupid I am, I can still feel good about myself, the end.

  18. My Noodle still sleeps with me because her bed is covered in her toys and clothes and because she refuses to sleep in it.

    I'm hoping that by the time she is in 2nd grade she'll be done with the co-sleeping.

    Of course, I said this when she was a baby, and every year since.

  19. hmmm, do you suppose the whole getting sick thing is a big baby/toddler conspiracy? seems like a lot of kids have used this "method" and are reaping the benefits! :)

    lots of luck to you and thing 1!


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