My son had trouble going to sleep tonight. His teeth (we guess) are hurting again and he just wakes up suddenly in great discomfort. It’s normal, I know, but it’s not easy to see him like that.
But tonight, he took some comfort from my picking him up out of his crib and holding him for a while. He stopped crying and pointed up at the ceiling fan - he loves the ceiling fan - and then looked back at me.
“Fan,” he said with a knowing look, “Fan.”
I put the lights down and sang some Carly Simon and James Taylor songs that I know well in my out of tune voice. He obliged me and put his little head on my shoulder and didn’t complain about his Dad’s singing.
We went on like this for a while. It’s hard to know just from the sound of his breathing if he’s really asleep. But after a time, I took my chances and swung him down into a cradle. He cracked open an eye and looked up at me, but didn’t resume crying thankfully. I went on singing some Dan Fogelberg that I also know and he didn’t complain.
Eventually, he let me put him back in the crib. He turned over from his back to his tummy (I’ve given up on insisting on back sleeping) and let out a sigh and curled up and went to sleep.
I stood and watched the gentle rise and fall of his breathing for a while. He makes me think, when he’s like this, of a bear cub at rest; playful and sweet and always on the lookout for honey.
On a night like tonight, chances are he’ll be up again in a while, and one of us will be trying to comfort him again. Sometimes he can be calmed. Sometimes not.
But when he’s able to let me help him like this, there’s no sweeter feeling in the world.