Don’t Read This, Bevan Baker

This is my granddaughter, Alita.  And I have reason to believe that she has fallen asleep in someone’s arms every night of her life.  Tomorrow she will be 5 years old.

I raised four kids.  All of them slept in their own beds.  In their own rooms.  One child spent a night in bed with my husband and me the night I brought him home from Nicaragua.  He had scabies and diarrhea.  My husband did a “him or me” thing and that was the end of that.

But Alita?  She has lived a different life.  And it started here.

The day she was born.

She falls asleep with her people.  She did then.  And she does now.

My son and his wife never made any decision about this…..this is just what they do.  They’re not captive to any “what you should do” thinking (this is both good and bad in the larger scheme of things).

Now she will bring her nearly five year old self to my lap, settle in with a blanket, and go to sleep.  Later, I’ll put her to bed.  There’s never any crying.  This is so different for me, a refugee of Dr. Spock’s admonition to put the child to bed and let her cry.

I don’t know what this means.  I just know that I’ve gone along with it.  That it feels better to have a child fall asleep in my arms than just about anything on earth.  That this practice – as unintentional and maybe careless as it has been – seems to have created a child who is relaxed and happy, who expects love but never demands it, who trusts her people and can rest easy.

So different than what I thought should be done.  So different from Dr. Spock or all the other baby-raising manuals. 

So ‘no end in mind.’  So ‘what makes sense right now.’  And it adds up – somebody holding this girl every night for five years. 

What a way to start a life.

4 Comments on “Don’t Read This, Bevan Baker

  1. In my earlier post, I should have said the medical evidence is about infants, not older children.

  2. I slept with my kids to. But if I knew the medical evidence I know now, I certainly wouldn’t!!

    I like the idea of a bedside layette that would make comforting, breast-feeding, even just listening to breathing an easy reach. But in the bed– imagine not hearing breathing after SIDS or suffocation. Too high a risk. Happens too often. Please read the science.

  3. Hi Jan! This piece is lovely — I completely agree that having a child fall asleep in your arms is about the nicest feeling ever. I used to fall dead asleep holding my sleeping baby niece, no matter what time of day it was. The human tranquilizer. Thanks for this!

    Do you know that one of the automatically-generated links on the bottom of this page links to a horribly racist anti-Obama site? I am sure you did not but thought you’d want to know!

    Enjoy your weekend! Ann

    • Thanks, Ann. I was so surprised by the weird links. Thanks for the tip. Yuck. I’ve also been really surprised that the second I post my blog, it has an ad running in it. Usually it’s not for anything too awful — but the link thing was disgusting.

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