The boy has never been a good sleeper. I have to remind myself of this whenever I start waxing sentimental and idealizing his babyhood. Yes, he was a lovely baby. We could take him anywhere and he would go to anyone. He would coo and laugh and go with the flow. But he did not sleep.
At first, I didn't really notice. Sure, I couldn't put him in his crib while he was still awake like I did with his brother, but I didn't mind. He was my baby and we weren't having any more. I'd rock him to sleep and love every second of it.
Ah, but then I went back to work. And the kid still wouldn't sleep. Or rather, he'd fall asleep and wake up in the middle of the night, much like he does now. In the early days, we'd park him in his pack-and-play in front of the t.v. and play a Baby Einstein video on repeat all night. Then one of us would flop out on the couch and doze to the sounds of the music box orchestra.
(Side note: Have you ever learned something from a Baby Einstein video and played it off like it's just something you know? Oh, that tune? That’s Mozart. Oh, and that’s a painting by Van Gogh. Yeah, his yellow period. What do mean you can’t tell the difference between Bach and Handel? Bach is a bunny and Handel is a turtle. Duh.)
Fast-forward a couple of years, and the boy still wasn’t sleeping and he was still into Baby Einstein. (A friend of mine calls those videos Baby Crack. They’re also Autism Toddler/Preschooler-and-Beyond Crack.) So, his latest obsession was the Baby Einstein Lullaby Time. I thought it would be soothing. I didn't expect him to stim on the sheep puppet.
|A feast of stuffed animals!|
It was a really awful time for us because he was up all hours and he was a lot more mobile. It was around this time that he first buttered the couch. (I say "first" because we had several couch-buttering incidents before we finally put an industrial lock on the fridge.) He also wasn't very good at telling us what he wanted. He had a few words and signed a little, but he often used his own language to describe what he wanted. For example, the Baby Shakespeare video was called the "Blah Movie." Why? Because the dragon puppet says "Blah!", but not in that movie. He says "Blah!" in Baby Mozart. I suspect you know this already.
So, we'd had several sleepless nights in a row when the boy woke up at three (again!) and started pitching a fit. I brought him into the living room so he didn't wake the rest of the house, and prepared myself for some weeping and movie charades. Instead, I got this:
"I want the fucking sheep movie, please."
Clear as a bell, but I couldn't even respond.
"I want the fucking sheep movie, pleeeeeease, Mommy!" he wailed, adding signs for emphasis.
"You want the flock of sheep movie?" I thought a little redirection was in order.
"NO! I WANT THE FUCKING SHEEP MOVIE! I WANT THE FUCKING SHEEP MOVIE, PLEASE!!"
"OK! The sheep movie it is!" And I started the movie.
He curled up on the couch, snuggled with his Pooh Bear, and muttered, "Yes, sheep movie, sheep movie, fucking sheep movie." I returned to the bedroom and pulled the covers off my husband.
"Dude," I began in the sternest voice I could muster. "Is there any reason why our son just asked to watch the fucking sheep movie?!"
It took him a second to respond. He rubbed his eyes and yawned.
"Perhaps, in a moment of weakness at three a.m., I may have said something like, Fine, I'll put on the fucking sheep movie," he admitted.
"Well, great, because now our three year-old is asking for the fucking sheep movie," I sighed.
"OK, but did he ask in a complete sentence?"
"Well, there you go," he grinned, rolled over, and was instantly asleep.