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'Ahhh, finally," I thought to myself as I blissfully rolled onto my belly, pulling up the comforter. Now that the 14-month-old twins were no longer nursing, I was able to resume my favorite sleep position without guilty pangs of "inhibiting milk production." And with the trio of cherubs snoring in the next room, I settled in for the night.
Until I received a visitor - and not of the angelic variety.
Just when I thought it was safe to sleep for a few consecutive hours, Ya'ir decided that his big-boy bed was no longer big enough for this boy.
At first, half-asleep, I just curled up with my new warm Yaya bear. But since he prefers sleeping diagonally (with intermittent kicks and punches), this new arrangement was not going to work.
After a couple of nights of leading the protesting interloper back to bed and repeating his favorite lullabies umpteen times, I realized that this was turning into a routine. It was time to isolate the problem and pull it up by its root.
The American Academy of Pediatrics guide, which I tend to read desperately at around 2 a.m., says that changes in sleep patterns of this sort can be due to deviations from the bedtime routine, lingering separation anxiety, cries for attention or from overactive imaginations and nightmares.
The guide also mentions something it calls, "the typical negativism of this age - that is, the refusal to do anything Mom and Dad want them to do." And Ya'ir, like any normal three year old, suffers from a goodly amount of "negativism."
The guide offered good possibilities, but its suggested measures were less compelling: Leave a light on, set a structured bedtime routine, let the child pick out his pajamas and books. Elementary, my dear Watson - we'd been doing that for ages.
But wait a minute! Although we have been going through the same routine for the past two years, there has been a recent development: Since the twins were no longer breastfeeding, I now read them a story each and then put them both in their cribs to get themselves to sleep. This can entail a certain amount of crying, and there are nights that we put Ya'ir in our bed until the twins settle (red flag!).
There are other nights that although he may fall asleep in his own bed, the twins wake up wailing, which in turn causes us to split up the troops. The easiest solution: Put Ya'ir in our bed for an hour until things calm down (crimson flag!).
Oy, it was our fault after all.
I turned to my team of more experienced coworker experts.
We all agreed that consistency is one of the most important tools in raising children and that under no circumstances is it okay to put Ya'ir in our bed if we don't want him to later arrive there of his own volition. In times of crisis, we should let him sleep on a mattress in a different room, even our room, but not in our warm, inviting bed.
A savvy father then wondered if we had explained to Ya'ir that he is not allowed to visit us during the night. I looked at him skeptically, pondering if Ya'ir could grasp the concept.
That afternoon after daycare, I sat down with Ya'ir and made him look me in the eye as I explained to him that he is now a big boy and big boys sleep in their own beds. Although we love him very much, he is not allowed to visit Ima's and Abba's bed during the night, only when he wakes up and sees day outside.
Visiting Ima and Abba at night makes us very angry, I told him, and it is not good to make us angry.
We did a sing-song call and response to cement the deal: "Where do big boys sleep?"
"In they own bed," he responded.
"And where does Ya'ir sleep?"
"In me own bed!" he said proudly.
The first night he did visit several times, and each time we repeated our question game as I led him back to bed. The second night he came less frequently, and by the third night, he didn't appear at all.
On the fourth night, however, I heard him screaming from a nasty nightmare.
"No! Not ice cream!!! Pudding! Not ice cream!!! Noooooo!"
Sweet dreams, Ya'ir.
The writer is the mother of three-in-diapers. email@example.com