Not Bad. Not Bad At All.
Y'all, he did it. He went to sleep on his own.
We went to Wegmans for dinner/grocery shopping tonight, and we got home a little past the time when the Beaner would normally have his bath or shower. I said I'd put away the groceries while Al took him upstairs and got him ready for bed. While I was stuffing soy milk into the storage room, I heard a bout of wailing from upstairs; the word "snuggle" was distinct a few times, but the rest was not. I continued putting groceries away.
When I was finished, I went upstairs to find Al and the Beaner practicing watching each other "work" with the Beaner's Diego dominoes: hands behind back, no comments, no reaching in to grab anything. That's when I got to see the urge to interfere in action, and I wondered if we've accidentally been teaching him this behavior (though it's partly his personality as well). Montessori materials are self-correcting, so the child can figure out for himself when he's done something wrong and fix it, no adult interference necessary. At home, however, the Beaner often tries to use various gadgets that weren't meant for children, or that were meant for children but aren't obvious how to use. We're always doing the "here, let me show you" thing. I've been consciously trying to let him figure things out for himself for a while now, but I'm probably still taking things out of his hands "to show him how" more often than I should.
Anyway, after a few rounds of practicing watching, I showed him how to get out something else and focus on that while Al was working with the dominoes. "See? You don't have to just watch; you can do your own thing, too. Circle time and play deck time are for interacting with others. When others are working, you can be working, too." He wanted to work *together*, however, so we got out some old baby bottles and worked on matching the caps to the different bottles.
When we finished that, I picked him up and gave him a snuggle, and then I announced I was ready to read him his bedtime story. He asked me to drop him on the bed, so I did, and then I pulled the covers up over him. (Usually he sleeps without covers—unless he's putting himself to bed, as in a hotel room.) When I sat down in the dining room chair I'd brought upstairs and placed next to his bed, he sat up. "No, lie down, silly," I said.
"But I want to sit next to you," he said.
"You are sitting next to me," I laughed. He smiled, but he didn't lie down all the way. "Here, I'll hold the book so you can see it. You won't miss anything."
He settled back onto his pillow, and I read Good Night, Blue! We sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when it got to the part about singing a bedtime song, and when I reached the end, I leaned over to kiss him goodnight. He threw his arms around my neck and said, "you gotta snuggle me."
"No, sweetie," I laughed again (trying to keep it light, so he'd know I wasn't punishing him). "I'll snuggle you in the morning. Remember how you came out this morning and said, 'Mommy! I'm awake!' and I said, 'OK, go pee pee, and I'll be right up!'? We can do that again tomorrow morning. Tonight I'm going to kiss you goodnight and tuck you in, and tomorrow morning you can tell me when you're awake. I'll come up and snuggle you for a bit, and then we'll get up and brush our teeth and get dressed!"
"OK!" he said. And with that, he pulled the covers around him, flipped over, and bade me good night.
About 15 minutes later, when I was downstairs talking to Al in the kitchen, I heard him call, "Mommy!" from the top of the stairs.
"I have a boogey."
"OK, sweetie. I'll bring you your very own Kleenex box, and you'll be all set," I said as I climbed the stairs. When I got to the top he smiled at me, thanked me for the box, and turned to go back to his room. "Gimme kiss," I said. He did, and that was the last I heard from his room. I waited about 45 minutes before coming back upstairs to work some more (I used the time to start switching the contents of my closet from summer shorts and Mossimo Ts to Gap Tall shirts and sweaters.)
I haven't peeked in to see if he's OK; I'm sure he's fine. And I'm curious to see who wakes up first in the morning: me or him. (It used to be him on a regular basis, and it was him—at 6:25—this morning, but for the past month or so it's been me poking him awake at 7:30am.) I'm also dying to see if it lasts.
Oh, I forgot to mention: This bed might have been the incentive he needed. I showed him the photo online last night, when he was in the middle of his meltdown, and he expressed interest in it. (I'm glad I saw the link to it on ratphooey's site yesterday when I was catching up on my blog reading.) We'd been telling him that we were going to get him a bed "just his size" soon, to warm him to the idea of going to sleep on his own, but we haven't had the time to pick one out yet. He asked about the tent bed again in the morning, so I decided to just go ahead and order it.
On our way home from school he said, "is my new bed here yet?" I replied that I'd ordered it, but that it wouldn't be here for a couple weeks. It's all he could talk about, though: the picnics he'd have under the tent, the fun he'd have climbing it. He's very excited.