Sunday, August 03, 2008

Dear Fern, part XXX

Dear Fern,

Fern slideshow 
Big. Girl. Bed.

You are two and a half years old today. Happy Half Birthday!

After weeks -- months -- of struggling with you to fall asleep alone, we finally discovered the solution: bribes.

Well, OK, let's call them "rewards." You've got a rewards chart -- every day you put yourself to sleep, you get a sticker on it, and three days of stickers mean a prize picked from a bag of covet-worthy treats: nail polish, paint sets, Swiss army knives -- heck, we were desperate enough to put anything in that bag.

What's funny, though, is that once mom set up the chart and the prize bag, it took you maybe two days to become a champion self-sleeper: you caught right on. The crucial breakthrough was comprehension: if we explain what we need from you, you get it. And, if the reward is great enough, you even want it.

Potty training took an imperceptibly short time once we established the one-jelly-bean-per-successful-pee rule. Nearly constant diapers and the potty chair as a novelty is so last week: now it's diapers-only-while-sleeping and we're looking into getting one of those workplace "Days Without An Accident" signs.

Of all the rewards, the grand prize of them all, the trophy that really turned your sleeping around was this:

The Big Girl Bed.

Yes, the very idea of a twin bed that was all your own -- a bed you could get in and out of at will, a bed that you could pile high with your stuffed animals and books -- that drove you to change your sleeping habits nearly instantly. For a few days, you would cry when left in bed, but for no more than five minutes or so. (By comparison, when we tried to do this in April, you screamed for 20 minutes and seemed ready to keep it up for hours except that we, your pathetic parents, couldn't take it.)

You told your friends, your relations, even your acrobatics teacher about your big girl bed; soon you'd repeated the phrase so incessantly that it came out more like "BIGurlbbed." You wanted to look through every furniture catalog that came to the house to pick out just the right one. And, night after night, you put yourself to sleep with little or no complaint.

And finally, yesterday, the Ikea man came by so that you could spend the night before your half birthday, for the first time, in your big girl bed. And you fell asleep on your own, and slept through the night. (To be perfectly honest, you did wake up an hour earlier than normal when you managed to squeeze past the safety bar and fell on the floor, but that's to be expected once or twice, right?)

In just a couple of weeks you turned sleeping from one of your hugest challenges to an enormous success. Sure, the reward had something to do with it, but we tell ourselves firstly, "So what?", and secondly, that you accomplished something hard by deciding you really wanted it -- and that's something for you (and us) to be proud of.

Nice job. We love you very, very much,

Mommy & Daddy

Here's this month's slideshow. If you can't see the pictures below, click this link.