Portrait of Play, Week 45


It was raining, and Charlotte was waiting at the door for her friend to come to play. These two have been friends since birth, and it has been interesting watching them grow up together. They ran off to Charlotte’s room to get dressed, and after some spontaneous dancing in their dress up clothes, a story developed. They decided they were going grocery shopping. After they arrived at the grocery store, Charlotte’s friend said she had to go somewhere, and Charlotte argued that she had to go with her because it was raining. Even though her friend said she was going to do it quickly, Charlotte insisted that they go together and got the umbrella out for their trip. After a week of rain, I’m not surprised that it was also raining in their imaginative play. Their trip turned into Charlotte dropping her friend off at a spend the night party. She told her to “have fun” and “if you are scared, you can come up to my bunkbed, cause I’m the mom.” The coffee table was the bunkbed being referenced. While I was trying to figure out why the mom was going to be at the spend the night party, Charlotte’s friend very practically asked, “but where can I sleep on your bunkbed?” Clearly, there was not any extra room on the top for both of them, a detail of reality that Charlotte had no interest in, but her friend decided to just settle in on the bottom. After a few moments of rest, they were both saying, “Good morning,” and Charlotte was telling her friend that she needed to go home now. Then she told us that she needed to leave to go babysitting (in the kitchen) and her friend ended up sweeping. They quickly found themselves back at the bunkbed and Winnie took the broom. The blankets became curtains and Charlotte was putting her friend to sleep, “I will go back and forward and check on you and give you a kiss. If you want, you can open the curtain, so you will have light.” After some more resting, there was a “Let’s go dance,” and Charlotte taught her friend the ballet moves that her cousin taught her. She does this routine all the time. It’s made of 4 moves that she repeats. She also demonstrated her somersault with a “one arm up, two arms up, then touch the ground.” After that, the girls engaged in a game of, “Say, ‘what is this present?'” as something got wrapped up in a blanket. Then a “surprise,” as the rocking horse, or broom, or person was uncovered from the blanket. After a quick moment of being ghosts, the girls returned to resting, and I thought perhaps they would actually go to sleep. They did not.

Oh sleep, so funny that it happens so easily in play during a week (month?) where none of us have had any. I’ll take the blame. Our schedule has been so inconsistent, naps and bedtimes have been disrupted, and possibly great bedtime habits have been undone.  My sweet little Winnie used to fall asleep on her own and sleep through anything, but then without me noticing, she started resisting sleep. We were all just rolling with the flow until I spent an entire day trying to get Winnie to nap without success. I honestly don’t know what went wrong or when it went wrong, but I found myself with another baby standing at the edge of her crib protesting sleep, day and night. For her, and for the rest of us, I needed a plan (even if the plan was to end up being to not have a plan). So, I went back and read all the things about baby sleep that I could in the fragmented moments that I had to read, the most helpful articles I found here. This one, let me know that it can take 3 months after learning to crawl for a baby’s sleep to return to what it was pre-crawling. Even though Winnie was just fine without any sleep because she’s the happiest baby ever, I know she was so tired, and everything I was doing was keeping her from sleeping. Unlike Charlotte, Winnie is a very social baby, and all of my interactions with her were stimulating her. Often in bed with me, she wanted to play with me, and it was frustrating for both of us. I love co-sleeping, and as long as I can get the time from bedtime until I go to sleep as time for myself with the girls sleeping on their own, I am happy snuggling with my babies, if that’s what is best for them. For Winnie, I’m beginning to learn that it is probably not best for her. So, I lie her down and tell her it’s time to go to sleep, and when she rolls over and crawls her way up the side of the crib, I lie her back down and tell her it’s time to go to sleep. She’s almost as persistent as her sister was, but unlike her sister, I’m not going to let her stand at the crib and fall asleep. I will just keep lying her down and telling her to go to sleep. I will hold her if she needs it or if I need it. I trust that she will learn the new routine, and I will stay with her for as long as she needs to feel comfortable with the changes. James will bring me up a drink, and I will repeat the mantra I stole from Alice Callahan, “Parent with love. Parent with respect. Parent with knowledge. Parent without fear.” Winnie will fall asleep, Charlotte will fall asleep, and we will all get some sleep, maybe.



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