We have many friends who always made it a habit to put their young kids to bed early at night, like at 7 or 8pm. We’ve never put our kids to bed that early. It wasn’t due to some philosophical difference and we can’t use TV as the excuse, since we don’t have one. We just didn’t push the early routine, and so even as youngsters, Elisabeth and Catherine (now teenagers) got to bed closer to 10pm, and our girls were always great sleepers. That generation of night owls has continued with Timothy, with the little man getting to bed around 10pm and consistently logging 10 hours of sleep a night.
But when a friend recently described to me a paradise where parents have hours of extra evening time on their hands just by putting their kids down by 8pm, I leaned in and listened. We were nervous about disrupting the sleep of our ten hour boy, but we decided to try putting Timothy down by 8:30pm. It’s early, but so far the results have been good. He’s still getting up around 8am every morning, which means that he’s getting an extra 60-90 minutes of sleep every night and we’re getting more time ourselves. We hope that this trend will continue.
Timothy is the beneficiary of a wide range of bedtime music. When Laura puts him down, she uses the opportunity to ingrain in him the Brandon family’s Indiana roots (IU fight song, alma mater and state song) while I give him a musical sampler, from ‘Hotel California’ to ‘Wonderful World’ to a medley of tunes from the 80’s (‘Rock me Amadeus’ puts him to sleep every time) .
We think back to a year ago, after Timothy’s colon surgery, when he was having four alarm diaper rash. That was bad stuff. Right now, he is having more tough diaper rash issues, and while it does not approach the Valentine’s Day doozies of 2012, it still clearly uncomfortable for the normally calm, if wee, lad. Thanks to this red rash, the shortest member of our family endured an especially crabby dinner last night. Lots of banana chunks and Canadian bacon pieces were sent flying from the high chair in frustration — though most of them were later harvested and eaten by TRBL before the Zamboni could come through to clean up the floor.
Speaking of high chair activity, someone asked how Timothy has avoided the near misses or accidents that all infants seem to go through. The answer is that he hasn’t – we just don’t put those things in the blog because our goal is to retain custody of our child while maintaining an aura of good parenting.
One recent close call was when Timothy was in his high chair eating and we stepped out of the room for (seriously) one minute and returned to find Indiana Jones crawling around the top of the dining room table. He had pulled himself from his high chair onto the table, where, fortunately, there was an iPad waiting to be played with. Good lessons for all, and we realize that we need Homeland security-level restraints to keep the monkey in his high chair zoo.
Laura has started taking Timothy to a weekly music class. Being in a toddler class is like being at the dog park with your pet. Since our last dog, Thibault, was aggressive with other dogs, our dog park experiences with him were often stressful (“hey, who’s dog is humping Buddy?”), and we eventually stopped going. In these classes, like at the dog park, you try to just enjoy the class and make small talk, but even if you’re not competitive or self conscious, it’s very easy to get sidetracked by worrying about your little angel’s behavior and scanning the crowd for how other parents and kids are reacting to that behavior.
This class is a good opportunity to get out of the house and get Timothy some socializing with people other than us. Since he is not in daycare, the golden child hasn’t hung out with many other kids, especially typically developing (ie, normal) kids. And that makes this an interesting gig for us and an important new phase of acceptance of Down syndrome. Here, we can see some of Timothy’s developmental delays in the light of day — when kids many months younger than him are running around and making real sounds.
We’ve always said that our expectation ‘bar’ for Timothy is to be like any other kid, and we’ll keep high expectations, but we also realize that this won’t be realistic in some areas. So experiences like this class are important for all of us, to stretch Timothy in his development, and to help us find ways to stop worrying about things we can’t control and just enjoy being at the dog park.
P.S. As I read the end of that entry, it sounds a little sadder than I intended. Some of the realities are sad, but this balance we’re playing with Timothy – figuring out where to keep our hopes high and where to accept reality – is something most of us do every day. Whether it’s approaching a new opportunity at work or school, dealing with the failing health of a loved one, or projecting our kids’ future occupations, we’re always managing our expectations and hopes. Some of us skew to the high hopes side and some are better at acceptance, but this game is part of all of our lives.
Though Timothy’s Down syndrome presents new challenges, it has also changed the way that I manage my worries and hopes and how I approach new situations, and allows me to see possibilities in places I never would have noticed before the arrival of TRBL.
And that’s a big time blessing.