Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery

What If I Push THIS Button?

Gareth has started experimenting with elements of our bedtime ritual, trying to find a way to derail it so he won't get left alone in his crib to sleep. It's sort of like that classic preschooler routine--one more glass of water, one more story, I want Daddy to read it, no I want Mommy to read it, time to rearrange my teddy bears, etc.--only his machinations are entirely nonverbal. I sympathize with his project. I prefer to stay up late, myself, and I don't much care for sleeping alone, but my sleep disorder and chronic pain are less problematic without a baby in my bed, and I'm hoping to help him avoid developing a sleep disorder, so into the crib he goes, promptly, at eight o'clock.

First he started objecting to his pajamas. Even the pajama song, which used to make him giggle, no longer reconciles him to changing for the night. (What pajama song? Dan and I filked up a version of Bob Marley's "Jammin'" into a five verse ode to jammies. Bet you can't get that riff out of your head now.)

Then Gareth went on a Goodnight Moon strike. It had always been the last book we'd read to him before bed, and he seemed to think that if he could just prevent us from reading it, he'd get to stay up. He burst into tears at the sight of that familiar green cover. When I didn't catch on and tried to read it for comfort, he reached over to close it, then pushed it away. So we put different books in the last-story position for a while, offering him Goodnight Moon every few days and not forcing the issue. When refusing Goodnight Moon for over a week didn't result in getting to stay up all night, Gareth went right back to liking it, even looking for it, for his last story.

This week he's refusing his last feeding. Boy, has that made for a cranky couple of nights. He seems to be catching on that this won't work, either. I wonder what's next.

I've been reading a lot of developmental psychology this year, so I've filled my head with milestones and critical periods, multiple intelligences, all that stuff. So far, none of the child development books I've read has anything to say about ritual. Maybe I'm not seeing it because I still think about it through the ritual theory branch of religious studies, and the developmental psychology people are thinking in terms of, say, event sequences or something. A Google search yields lots of hits about obsessive-compulsive disorder, but what I'm curious about is normal ritual behavior. I'd really like to know how kids develop an awareness of ritual, how they learn to think about it and in it. Surely someone is doing that research.
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