Jack turned two during the pandemic – trucks and cars and the zoo and CAKE! No people.
Jack turned two during the pandemic – trucks and cars and the zoo and CAKE! No people.
Jack in pandemic August
Jack in pandemic July means lots of sweaty long hair.
Jack in June – 21 months
Jack’s sleep has never been terribly consistent, but we found our routine and things had been going well most of the time (for the last few months, at least). Jack learned to fall asleep in the crib, not entirely on his own, but quickly, so it was working for us, and he usually slept through the night. On any given night, I would (or John would – we did it the same way) put Jack in the crib and then sit or lie down next to him and slide one hand between the crib slats. Jack might ask me to rub his back until he fell asleep, or he might grab my hand and hold it, roll over on top of it, or lay his head down on it. Not too long after that (most nights), he’d be asleep and I would pull the magician-tablecloth trick and get my hand back without waking him up.
It worked for a long time, and actually, it’s still working, but for the last few weeks, Jack has been waking up in the middle of the night and very clearly telling us that he’s upset because he woke up and we weren’t there. We were there when he went to sleep – what happened? That’s EXACTLY the reason all those sleep books give for why babies need to learn to go to sleep completely on their own. They wake up freaked out because things are different and they don’t understand. I read those books forever ago, but it’s only now that it’s actually a problem for us.
So now we need to fix it. It’s finally really truly time to teach Jack how to put himself to sleep without Mommy and Daddy in the room. It’s going to take a SUPER long time, though, because we have found out that we’re just not cry-it-out people. Can’t take it. Not gonna do it.
So instead, we’re going to take baby steps. First, no more hand. We’ll still put him in the crib and lie or sit down next to it, we’ll still talk or sing to him as needed, but no more falling asleep on top of or under the hand. Once we have that down, we’ll start moving farther away from the crib, toward the door, until we can put him in the crib, say good night, and leave. It’s going to take FOREVER, but I’m hopeful that it’ll work. There will be crying, but we won’t have left him alone to deal with it.
That’s the plan. And we have begun! Barely. On night one, I put him in the crib, sat down next to him like usual, and when he asked for my hand, I said “No hand.” Cue the crying. He cried and sobbed “Yes, hand! Yes, Mama hand!” for 32 minutes and then he passed out. Success? Sort of?
The next day at nap time, I did the same thing, but there was only an hour of crying, no nap. Which is pretty much what I expected for naps. The second night was John’s turn, and Jack was exhausted from not napping, so he fell asleep in John’s lap during story time. Doesn’t count. Day 2’s nap is where I think I turned our baby steps plan into even smaller steps (not on purpose!).
He was crying, asking for my hand, not napping, threatening to climb out of the crib, and then I got him to lie down and giggle a little by pretending to offer him my pinky, outside the crib, and then YOINK! He couldn’t have it. We did that for the last 10 minutes of the nap attempt. No nap, not surprising. Then we got to Night 3, my turn, and Jack didn’t ask for my hand! He asked for my pinky. I let him have it, his hand outside the crib, my pinky clutched in his fist, and he was asleep within minutes.
That’s totally cheating, I know. But at the same time, it’s kind of a step in the right direction, so I’m letting it ride for a few days before I take it away.
Jack identifies which song he wants to hear by describing the album cover (because that’s what shows on the screen for Amazon Music and Pandora). So “car” or “black car” is Pompeii by Bastille. “Blue car” is Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man. (The image is a black car on fire, but the reflection looks kind of blue.) Today, he requested “popple” (which is how he says people – it’s so freakin’ cute). Well, a lot of album covers have people on them. I started with the playlist that has both of the car songs on it. We scrolled through the whole playlist, trying each song, and he said no within five seconds of the start each time. We scrolled through the recent songs – none of those. I tried Huey Lewis and the News, since the album cover of Fore shows the band leaning against a wall. Not any of those. Then he looked at me very seriously and said “white people” (which came out as “woot popple” and I’m giggling remembering it). John was there, too, and we both told him he was exactly right – Huey Lewis and the News are as white people as you get. But that’s not what he meant. The song he wanted was “white people”. He grabbed my phone and pointed. Of course, it was at a song we’d already tried and he had already rejected, but he wasn’t wrong about his description.
Those are white people wearing very white shirts. Right on, Jack.
(It was Shut Up and Dance by Walk The Moon.)
We got SUPER lazy Saturday evening, and after a fun wander around the grounds of the lighthouse at Beavertail State Park, we went through the drive-thru at McDonald’s and got Jack his FIRST Happy Meal! We let him unpack the box himself, which resulted in a cascade of fries all over his high chair tray. He dipped his fries and his McNuggets all by himself and totally ignored the apple slices (which is a little surprising – lately he’s been all about the apple slices).
When dinner was over, we let him open his first Happy Meal toy! It was a weird potato-looking thing that we eventually figured out was an egg that opened to reveal a dinosaur. Jack was thrilled about the egg and totally freaked out about the dinosaur. (It’s a 2-inch tall T-rex with jaws that open and shut.) We put it safely away back in its egg, and he eyed the whole thing warily until bedtime.
He warmed up to the dinosaur when we tried again this morning, emphasizing that it’s a baby dinosaur, and look, it’s saying hello with a baby rawr. I found it later, stuffed between the couch cushions. We may have to put it away for a while.
We had a major breakthrough at the beach yesterday. Like, BIG.
Are you ready?
Jack – wait, I don’t feel like you’ve prepared yourself enough. I’ll give you another few seconds.
Jack played in the water. For reals. He was hesitant to go in at first, but he was willing to take one slow step at a time in, his back up against my legs and his hands in mine, all the way up to mid-shin. Then he scrambled to get up in my arms, but from there, he pointed imperiously out to sea. “Mama, DAT!” So I did. We waded out together, John close behind, until I was waist deep and waves were splashing us both. He kicked his legs and splashed with his hands, laughed when waves got him in the face (He LAUGHED! He still wails when we get water in his face in the bathtub!), and giggled when we spun him around in circles with his hands trailing in the water. When he got too heavy for both of us (we were taking turns holding him), we went back to where he could stand, and he marched and splashed and played, and it was like he was a whole different kid. And he protested getting out of the water! I promised him we would come back after the holiday weekend, and he agreed to come out.
What a nice surprise.
Jack keeps adding cute things to his repertoire, and I must share them:
No naps in six days, guys. SIX. DAYS. And Jack has woken up four of the last six nights. We are all still sane (we think – would we know?), but Jack has the darkest circles under his eyes. It’s so sad. Today, he tried the poop method again. It wasn’t a constant barrage, but “Poop. POOP.” was interspersed regularly with “Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama” and “Hello tree?” (“Hello tree” is his request to open the skylight shade, which he knows signals the end of the nap. When I answer with “No, night-night tree”, he gives a giant wail of despair.) Anyway, he kept saying poop and I kept not smelling poop and then a half-hour later he was no longer lying to me.
Maybe it was luck (on his part), maybe he noticed he had to go and was telling me (a milestone), or maybe he willed himself to poop to get out of nap time (a superpower). Regardless, that was it for nap time today.
Things were going so well!
We’ve mostly been doing really well with naps lately, but these last few days have seen a couple of bumps. Three or four days ago, I was trying to get Jack to go to sleep, but he kept saying “Poop” and “Poo dada”. I thought he was asking me to sing the poopy diaper song (“Poopy diaper! Poopy diaper!” to the tune of the Hallelujah chorus), so I sang it quietly for a little bit and a while later he fell asleep. I did sniff his diaper at the time – didn’t smell anything. When I changed his diaper after that nap, I discovered that he had pooped. Whoops. So the next day when he told me “Poop.” while I was trying to put him to sleep, I believed him. I picked him up out the crib (and he giggled – that should have been a clue), turned the light on, and checked his diaper. No poop. Back into the crib. He insisted he had pooped for the rest of the time it took him to fall asleep, but I wasn’t falling for it (and I couldn’t smell anything). He eventually fell asleep. Post-nap diaper change: no poop.
During our attempts to fall asleep yesterday, when he said “Poop!” several times right after I put him in the crib for his nap, I believed him. I picked him up (no giggle) and changed his diaper (there was poop). Back into the crib, where he immediately yelled “Poop!” at me. Not a chance. But after about 10 minutes of insisting that he pooped, which is a not-at-all-fun constant barrage of “Poop. Poop. Poop! Poop.” in increasingly tearful tones, I figured I should check again. He giggled when I picked him up, I checked his diaper, and there was NO POOP. Back in the crib, back to the “Poop” chorus, and he never fell asleep. No nap yesterday.
Today, I got the “Poop. Poop!” plea pretty soon after I put him in the crib again. I stood up, leaned way over to smell his diaper (to giggles), didn’t smell anything, and refused to pick him up. He eventually fell asleep.
Jack: The Boy Who Cried Poop.
Okay, so obviously I shouldn’t let Jack watch TV all afternoon, especially not on a warm sunny day. I had a meeting, one I couldn’t just pretend to listen to (I don’t seem to have many of those anymore), so I got him his lunch, strapped him into the high chair, and turned on the TV. He was happy, I was working, and all was well. When my meeting ended, I cleaned him up and put him down on the floor. Before I even reached my hand out to the remote to turn off the TV, Jack ran across the living room, grabbed the armchair pillow, dragged it into the middle of the rug, and plopped himself down, giggling excitedly.
It feels cruel to turn the TV off when he’s so adorable and into it. I mean, I did it anyway, and we all lived to tell the tale, but he was so happy.
Months and months ago (time has no meaning and I don’t remember exactly when this was), Jack learned to say baby and when he combined it with his love of emergency vehicles, it reminded me of a certain song. We sang it to him for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, and then forgot about it.
The other day, I had Jack on the changing table, and he indicated that he wanted me to sing and he said, “Oowee. Baby. Oowee. Baby.” Over and over. After a couple of minutes, it clicked. “You want me to sing Oowee Baby?” “Yup.” You got it, kid. Sea Cruise coming right up.
Jack didn’t nap today, so our afternoon was a little rocky. I pulled a toy out of the closet as a fun surprise – for him, not for us. It was that piano toy shaped like a cat that plays the WORST versions of kid songs with cat-related lyrics. We had hidden it for our own sanity. He loved it, though, and giving it to him worked for a while, but then he got this really sad look on his face, mouth turned down at the corners like he was about to cry, and said “Dada me! Dada me!” Was he looking for Dada? Asking for Dada to play with him? That seemed unlikely. He doesn’t know pronouns and has no idea how to use “me”. He’s doing the Gaby thing of answering “You!” when we point to a picture of him and ask him who’s in it.
Still, we found Dada, but that did not solve the problem. “Dada me!” in increasingly sad and tearful tones. FINALLY I figured out that he wanted to hear one of the terrible songs on constant repeat. It was “Partridge in a Pear Tree”, but the lyrics were something like, “In the month before my birthday, my daddy gave to me…” and “In the week before my birthday, my daddy gave to me…” Ah. Dada me.
So I’d help him play the song, and then cycle past all the other bad songs so we could hear this one again. And again. And again.
John has taken Jack up to bed, so my mission is to hide this worst toy ever somewhere new. Somewhere Jack won’t find it. Maybe…the basement.
I just used up my blogging time recommending books to online friends, and that makes me happy. Hopefully those recommendations will make them happy. But it means this is all I can write in the time I have. (Also, I had to spend an unexpected 45 minutes putting Jack to sleep after John tagged me in. Jack was NOT sleepy. We gave him a few bites of custard and a bite of brownie after dinner, so I’m blaming the sugar high.)
I am out of time! Good night!
Today was full of firsts. Well, two firsts. But some days there are no firsts, so I’ll call two in one day a full day.
The first first was a first for me! (I am reading WAY too much Dr. Seuss.) I made custard! For no reason and prompted by nothing at all! And it’s good, if maybe a bit eggy. I have no idea what made me think of it, but then I googled a few recipes, discovered I already had all the ingredients, found a recipe that did not assume I own custard cups, and boom. An hour later, we had custard.
The second first (same as the – no, that doesn’t work) was a first for Jack. I think he’s learning empathy! Finally! We went to the beach today with Emily and fam, and McKenna gotten bitten or stung by something. It got her finger, and she was very upset for a while. When she started crying, Jack looked around and said, “Baby! Baby!” I may be projecting a little, but he sounded concerned. Tonight, while reading before bed and then as he was falling asleep in the crib, we repeated this routine probably ten times: “Baby! Baby?” and he’d hold up his finger. “You mean McKenna and her finger?” Then a plaintive “Yup.” “She’s okay, I checked. Everyone is fine.” Then a satisfied “Yup.”
He cares! Or he’s at least remembering it and thinking about someone other than himself. Still a first!
Jack is the sweetest cuddliest toddler ever. Evidence:
Best baby in the world.
This morning I stood in front of Jack’s dresser and said (to myself, or so I thought), “What should you wear today?” Jack, who had been happily reading in the chair with John, said “Oowee” and wiggled to the floor. “No problem!” and I pulled out a short-sleeved white t-shirt with five fire trucks on it. Jack insisted “Oowee!” and pulled out a plain red t-shirt. “Well, it’s fire engine red, so I can see how that counts.” I put the other shirt away. Then he dropped the red t-shirt and went rummaging in the drawer. A minute later, he pulled out his long-sleeved red fire engine shirt. “Oowee! Oowee!” “But-” “Oowee!” Okay. The high is only supposed to be in the low 70s. Long-sleeved shirt and shorts it is.
Today’s chore: put away the long-sleeved shirts.
Yeah, I jinxed myself a teeny bit with yesterday’s post. Jack did NOT sleep through the night last night. It was John’s turn to get up, and after two and a half hours (John tried longer than we usually go before trading), I got the text. “Help.” Jack had been trying to go to sleep, no crying or fussing, but he just didn’t settle. We traded at 4am (John and Jack had been up since 1:30), and Jack went right to sleep for me. He was out by 4:10, and I was back in bed ten minutes later. Sometimes the trade-off works like that – he just needs the new presence and out he goes. Sometimes the trade-off wakes him up completely and we’re all screwed.
We still got him up at 7am (need to stick to our routine!), and he went down for his nap easily, too. I did, too, right there on the floor with my left arm stuck through the slats of his crib. (He was sleeping on my hand.) That keeps happening – as uncomfortable as I am like that, I have dozed off with him every time I’ve put him down for a nap or at bedtime for more than a week. Too bad I have to work during nap time.
It’s working! I feel like SUCH a moron for not doing this before, but making sure Jack’s room is super-dark seems to have fixed our nap problem. (I am totally jinxing myself right now, I’m sure.) After a few days of hanging the comforter over the curtain rod, I bought a cheap blackout shade, cut it to fit the window, and stuck it to the top of the window frame. I still close the curtains over the shade and tape the edges down, and it gets nearly as dark as when I used the comforter, with the added bonus of not having the extra weight try to pull the curtain rod down.
Here’s what you want to know:
Jack has napped (!) in his crib (!!) for EIGHT days in a row (!!!), and EVERY nap has been between 90 minutes and two hours long (!!!!). He has slept through the night, nine to ten-plus hours, for every one of those nights except one.
I know this won’t last forever (growth spurt, sleep regression, his two-year molars – have I mentioned that he already has all of his teeth except for those four in the very back? He has so many teeth! – something will happen to disrupt sleep or naps), but I am going to enjoy it for as long as I can.