“I’ll never miss another bedtime.”

Madeline has been going through a developmental growth spurt this past month or two. We have observed that she

  • very clearly loves to dance (as in the video here) and also loves to watch dance (she was suddenly mesmerized by a dance video I came across while web surfing),
  • claps to music with a strong bass beat (today, she clapped regularly for a few seconds when Flip Fantasia came on in the car, and just to test her, I played it again a while later, and she did the same),
  • figured out old-school 1970s toys (a pull train with a whistle) almost immediately when we went to visit the grandparents,
  • matches her socks when we fold laundry,
  • matches shapes on her sorting toys and claps for herself when she succeeds (and when she doesn’t, too),
  • recognizes objects she’s seen once (a Trader Joe’s bag of freeze-dried strawberries, which she snatched unbeknownst to me during our next trip to the store; a display of fruit pouches after her first one at Karla’s wedding, for which she lunged frantically to grab),
  • recalls activities she’s done once (a week ago, we read Eric Carle’s book of food and made a silly game where I ask a question and we shake our heads no; today, she brought me the same book while vigorously shaking her head no with a big grin),
  • recognizes hats, sunglasses and shoes as such even if she’s never seen them before (which she demonstrates by trying to put them on),
  • points to the “puppy” in various picture books, even if they don’t look like Henry,
  • perks up and says, “Daddy!” while looking expectantly when she hears someone at the door.

Not long ago I was somewhat concerned that Madeline was developmentally slow, even with accounting for her late premie status. Although she has far greater receptive language, she still has relatively few intelligible words besides “mama,” “daddy,” “bye,” “shoes” (“shuce!”), and “socks (“shocks!”). Alas, I should not have doubted her, for she soon demonstrated the extent of her comprehension.

Since my schedule can be irregular, Chris has been putting Madeline to bed the majority of the time. They have their own little routine, and she generally goes to bed quietly without a fuss. Last night, Chris had to do some work outside, so it was my job to put Madeline to bed. All was going fine; we played with toys, read a story, settled down, and I lifted her in her crib. She’d had a big day of playing at the sprayground and she was clearly tired. As she stood holding the side rail, I said, “Bed time, baby girl. Good night, Madeline.”

A question on her face. “Daddy?” she asked.

“No Daddy. Daddy’s not here.”

At that, she began to wail. Long story short, she was very upset, refused to sleep, and shrieked at the top of her lungs in that special way that she reserves for only Mommy. At one point she was even leaning against the side rail half asleep, with chin resting on her arms, eyes closed, and continuing to voice her feelings. She never sleeps well when she goes to bed upset, and she had multiple awakenings throughout the night.

When Chris came home, I told him about how she asked for Daddy and was very agreeable until she was told Daddy’s not here. Chris thought quietly for a minute, then said simply, “Well. I’ll never miss another bedtime.” Asked why, he explained that he never thought Madeline expected their bedtime routine, that she looked forward to it. Sometimes when she’s very tired she reaches for the crib as he’s putting her down. Chris had assumed that she went to bed more willingly if he put her down because she didn’t care much about staying with Daddy, in contrast to her separation anxiety with Mommy. But now that it’s clear that little Madeline wants her special bedtime routine with Daddy, that she asked for him and cried horribly for him to come put her to bed —

Now, he’ll never miss another bedtime.

(Point, Mommy!)

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