Bedtime used to be war time.
The Little Creature used to hate going to sleep. It must have been because of the iPad and the TV.
Ok, so some months ago, I had to admit, I sort of treated the iPad and the TV like some electronic nanny for my toddler and made excuses for being such a lazy, lousy parent. Sure, it did work to keep the Little Creature #1 preoccupied and it did feel like the iPad helped him develop his motor and mental skills. But after a while, it felt like that was all he did, watch Youtube and cartoons and play with the iPad all afternoon. He became so obsessed with the iPad that it got to the point that it became a struggle to make him go to sleep. The bedroom was a battleground and he hated it. He would fall asleep crying, “iPad! iPad! iPad!”. It left me exhausted and frustrated. I so wanted to introduce him to books, to read him bedtime stories, but the books meant nothing to him.
So we decided to make the iPad “disappear” one day. We told him that it got lost and the TV was out of order. And I became Mother Pol Pot. People thought I was crazy and cruel. I ignored them and I ignored the Little Creature’s woeful wailing for the iPad. I bought a couple of books with Disney characters because he was familiar with them, especially the “Cars” ones, and began to read to him. He didn’t like it at first. But gradually ( I guess because he had no choice), he began to get interested.
Then one day, I don’t know exactly when, it just happened. He began to look forward to bedtime. I don’t have to force him to go to sleep anymore. I would tell him that it was time for sleep and he would go with me. “Mommy, read a book!” He would say. I would tell him to get a book from his small but growing collection and these are usually his picks.
For some reason, Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” cracks him up.
My friend C gave him “The Dangerous Alphabet” book by Neil Gaiman and he likes to look at the monsters and zombies in the book, too. I try to make the monsters and ghosts and ghouls silly and funny so he wouldn’t get scared.
He loves looking at the pictures of the books. Sometimes, I would invent nonsensical stories based on the pictures. I would turn the lights off, but he would insist that I continue to read to him. Since it isn’t completely dark, he still likes to see a silhouette of me holding an open book and to hear me talk nonsense as if still reading the book until he falls asleep.
My throat would go dry from talking (and singing!) to him every night but I look forward to his bedtime as much as he does now.
I love putting him to sleep. Moments like those make me feel so triumphant.
Looks like I did something right again! Boo-yah!