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Ronan in his crib, not sleeping.

So after many nights of staying up with Ronan, Terry has read the Baby Whisperer book and we have implemented its sleep suggestions. I didn’t read it, but I’m not really happy about this. The essence is that at the first sign of a yawn, you put the baby down to sleep. If they are quiet, you leave them alone. If they make noise, you hold them only as long as it takes to get them calm and collected, nor more than a minute or two. A deep sleep will follow.

The damn thing works. Ronan immediately nods off into a deeper, longer sleep, actually sleeping through the night for up to eight or nine hours sometimes. That’s great.

However, the technique involves standing over his crib watching him go to sleep. That drives me crazy. I hate just standing there, waiting for him to fall asleep. I much prefer to hold him and watch TV. (Of course, TV probably had something to do with his late nights and his short nighttime sleeping.)

So, once again, my wife is absolutely correct about the proper way to attend to our child. So, I spend at least an hour a day or more watching Ronan for signs of sleep standing over his crib. While sometimes I feel like I’m a statue trying to not distract Ronan from his nap, and I’m bored out of my mind, he usually falls asleep within a few minutes.  I don’t know if I hate the fact that Terry was right more than I feel like I’m watching paint dry, but it does work, 90% of the time, so I have to give her props. 

Coupled with the longer sleep, we have Ronan’s new ability to hear everything. I’m beginning to think he’s not a selkie but a half-human, half-bat. (Ronan is Celtic for “little seal.” “Half-human, half-bat” is Jason-speak for “Ronan’s listening to the soft sounds of the keys of my computer as I type this, even though he’s in the other room and the door is closed.)

One night the outside string holding our glass wind chimes broke. The hapless decoration hit the ground with such force; I thought someone was breaking in. Ronan assumed we were under alien attack and started screaming. After I waited for the mythical intruder, I realized it was the wind chimes and we started to comfort him. He just kept screaming, which is unusual for him.

Another time I had three bottles of water in my TV grad class because I was giving a 90-minute oral report. I came home and I had to pee – really badly. If you’ve ever had to pee really badly, you know you just rush in the door and head for the bathroom. I tried to do this as quietly as possible, but has I enjoyed the relief of emptying my bladder, I heard the terror of my son from the other room. I then had the terror of my wife, because I knew I’d be in trouble for waking him up. However, he quickly went back to sleep, so she wasn’t too upset.

There is a problem with being married to a hot, lithe, beautiful woman when you’re a 300 pound guy. Ever since we started dating, she forgets that I can’t follow her certain places – like through the maze of furniture at Bye Bye Baby or other stores. She’s just too thin and beautiful, and I’m just too fat and stocky. I have to take the long way ’round. This has consequences for living in an older brownstone.

Terry can quietly and quickly move through the apartment without making too much noise. I, however, move as if I’m an African Rhino who’s been drinking.[1] Since Ronan developed super-human hearing, I’ve mapped out the entire floor of our living room to locate the support joists so I can walk on them with less noise. It’s actually quite scary how the floorboards bend when I pass by; I don’t know why I never noticed that before.

No matter how hard I try, I make noise when moving. Get up off the futon? “Sssshhhhh!” Terry says. Cross the living room into the kitchen? “Sssshhh!” Terry says. Twiddle my thumbs? “Ssshhhh!” Terry says.[2] I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t even close the bedroom door without making noise.

When we first brought Ronan home from the hospital, I was astounded at what he could sleep through. He could sleep through food preparation, dishes, visitors, grandparents, and television. But now, either because of or in spite of his age and the Baby Whisperer, he wakes up at the drop of the hat.

Want to clean the house? Wait until he’s awake. Washing dishes? Wait until he’s awake. Listening to music? Television? Phone calls? Wait until he’s awake. Terry and I now have hours of conversation at a whisper. We’ve returned our cable boxes and opted for the secret $13.95 cable package that Time-Warner doesn’t even list on their website[3] because we don’t even listen to television with volume any more.

Which is, in a way, kind of spiritual. The quiet is kind of nice. I listen to the sounds of nighttime Brooklyn, the playground across the street, the sirens and helicopters of the ever-present police and fire departments. We’ve started adding silent films[4] to our Netflix account, and we’ve developed such extraordinary hearing that Ronan’s grandparents think we’re faking listening to the TV just to drive them crazy (especially my father.)

Terry points out that, technically,[5] I haven’t read the Baby Whisperer book. However, while I hate standing by his crib watching Ronan drift off to sleep, I’ve a newfound appreciation for silence.

Today, before I wrote this column, Terry was getting ready for her shift at the Park Slope Food Coop. Ronan was tired and I was trying to get him down for a nap. Terry was trying to be quiet, but he was so overtired that everything kept him up. She’d eat breakfast; he’d wake up and want to see what she was doing. She’d get her shoes; he’d wake up and want to see her put them on. She came in to say goodbye and said, “Don’t hold him for too long!”

“Go! I’ve got this!” I said. I was a little annoyed at having to stand over the crib while she kept waking Ronan up. Later, when we were laughing about it, she said, “Now you know how I feel!” Because she doesn’t enjoy standing over his crib either. But the Baby Whisperer works. Unfortunately for Terry she usually has an African Rhino who is dancing around the apartment waiting to pee while she’s trying to get Ronan to go to sleep.

[1] Occasionally, the drinking part is true, but only once a month or so. I never turn completely into an African Rhino, though.

[2] Terry has never told me to be quiet while twiddling my thumbs. This is a joke to underscore that I’m loud and Terry shushes me a lot.

[3] You can get the secret “antenna connect” cable package Brooklyn channel lineup here. The good channels are highlighted.

[4] Anyone else think Charlie Chaplin’s early work is overrated?

[5] And truthfully,


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