yawn, true story about 8 year old me

The young girl sat in the back of the classroom. Not by choice but rather by alphabetical order. Last name order. And that particular year, she ended up sitting in the fourth row, last seat.

She actually didn’t care. Didn’t even really notice. It was just the way the teacher chose to sit all the students. And, anyway, the girl made no issues with having to sit in the back. Like some of the other kids did.

yawn2One morning, after she had arrived to class and put her things away, the youngster sat quietly, in her seat, awaiting instructions. She felt tired. Assumed she probably didn’t sleep well the night before. It seemed that there was more noise around the house than usual. Just people, her family, talking into the night. About everything. And their muffled voices kept waking her. As the late hour progressed.

The girl yawned. As she had before. Like many people do. In the classroom. While waiting for the teacher to call them all to attention.

The boy sitting in front of her turned around, and looked at her. His mouth was open as if he were going to ask her a question. But then he closed it back up. And turned his whole body back around facing the front. Face toward the chalkboard.

Not a minute later, he turned again, and asked the girl, “Why are you always crying?” She said not a word, and just looked at him, confused. He continued. “Your eyes are always watering. Like you’ve been crying.” She wiped the back of her hand across her eyes and saw that, yes she did have tears. “Oh. I’m not crying, I just yawned. I guess it made my eyes water.” The boy just looked at her. Didn’t know how to respond, so he simply turned back. And faced the front of the classroom. Again. And she yawned. Again. Feeling the tears pool in her eyes. And wondered who else thought she was always crying.

Cry Baby, Cry

Anyone watching Jane the Virgin, on the CW? You’ve got to if you’re not. So funny! So soap opera-y. All kinds of twists and turns. Great cast. Great storyline. Fun watch.

One scene that stood out this morning, while watching a recording of this past Monday’s show (S2|E9 “Chapter Thirty-One) is how Jane (the main character played by Gina Rodriguez) deals with her baby waking up at all hours of the night, crying.

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What a blast to the past! Elizabeth was my baby-in-training. Without much thought, just lots of common sense, when Liz arrived to that point when she cried during the night, was no longer a ‘newborn’, rather she was around the 9 month mark, I knew I had to break her of the potential bad habit of wailing unnecessarily and me running to her, attending to her every whim. Hence, the “Let her cry.” situation started, no matter Rudy’s apprehension.

During the show’s episode, Jane spends lots of time reading up on material explaining the value of gentle, soothing ways to help babies sleep through the night, which disrupts everyone else’s sleep, and irritates Grandma, the character I most identify with. She tells Jane to just let Mateo (the baby) cry. Jane thinks that’s a mean, selfish remedy.

Back in my new-parenting days, my adorable, bright smiling Elizabeth was beginning to recognize and understand (as I am sure we are all attuned to, even at such a young age) routines, our daily happenings and what happens when. So, for me, 7:30 pm was the prime time to put her down to sleep for the night. Beforehand she ate (her delicious jarred baby food, a warmed bottle of milk) and had a soothing bath. I swathed her in comfortable cotton baby wear, gently laid her in her crib, kissed her goodnight, told her how much I loved her, then walked out of the room, closing the door behind me. (Note: Rudy was part of this routine, though there was a long span of time he was working the graveyard shift, therefore Elizabeth’s sleep routine was almost solely my own).

Anyway, five minutes later she began to cry. In my heart-of-hearts I knew I was doing the right thing by leaving her to cry herself to sleep (plus, a doctor once told me that Elizabeth was strengthening her lungs with all the hollering she did, which I considered a healthy bonus). Knee-deep into the routine was when Rudy experienced the crying for the first time (because of a night off from work). He’d sit outside her bedroom door and feel for her. He’d shed tears, and say things like “Just let me hold her for a minute.” but I knew I had to be firm, not really because of the crying but because I was trying to establish a routine for Liz.

It took about two weeks, maybe two and a half, for Elizabeth to realize her crying wasn’t getting her the attention she desired so that when, one night, I followed the same routine I always did she watched me walk out of the room, heard me close the door, and fell asleep.

Allowing her to fall asleep on her own, without me spending time rocking her, holding her, feeding her at all hours of the night, in the long run benefitted all of us, but mostly Elizabeth. As she grew older, bedtime was just that. Bedtime. She never challenged us. She knew 7:30 pm was the end of her day and as she got older and the time changed to 8:00, then 9:00, then 10:00. And she accepted each time frame. And overall, in the end, Elizabeth loved bedtime, going to sleep after a long day of play, school, or whatever.

Jane’s grandma has it right, in my opinion. Just let Mateo cry himself to sleep. The benefits out-way anything else.

I Am PRO-quiet house.

IMG_1926One afternoon, while feeling the crowding of loud voices shedding from my ears, noise from the activity of an ordinary day in the classroom, and just as I was halfway down the hallway, heading towards my bedroom to change into my loose-fitting sweats and an oversized hoodie, mentally prepping myself for some quiet time and smut TV,

my son rips open his bedroom door, so forcefully that I could hear the whoosh! of wind, and he states,

“Our house is so boring. It’s so quiet!” He said it as if quietness is a bad thing. I leaned against the linen closet door and as patiently as I could I said,

“Well. If you worked all day in a classroom, with very energetic ten year olds, you too would not think a quiet house was boring. Instead, you would relish the quiet. Dream about quiet. Anticipate quiet. And you would never ever call your house boring.”

“Okay. Yeah. I can see that. From your perspective, anyway.” And he didn’t complain again.

Not until another afternoon. Months later.

“I get it, you work with kids and need downtime from all the activity happening throughout your day. But, man, when I am at my friends, and I mean all the different people’s homes I’ve been in, and spend the night, the parents never, and I mean nev-er, tell us to be quiet. The parents go to bed earlier, like you, and we play games, watch TV, talk. All with the volume pumped up.  And no one says a word. No on tells us to be quiet,” my son rambles on.

“I don’t have an answer for you,” I say, without apology.  “Geez, seriously, I’m not sure why the parents wouldn’t want you guys to quiet down at a certain time, but me, no way, I need my rest. I need quiet. I need my sanity. Seriously.”

I’m trying to wrap my head around the concept of kids having control of the home, but my son doesn’t seem to see it that way.

“I’m just saying, I don’t know anyone, and I mean any-one, that has rules about quieting down,” he added, seemingly just as confused, but on a different level.

“Well, when I was growing up,” I reminisced , “whichever house I was at, I don’t think we even were told to be quiet, we just were. For me, that’s the norm.”

I didn’t say it, but maybe the problem is that today’s parents, while trying to be cool, to fit in with their children, and to be their friend, are making the mistake of also believing that it’s okay for kids to Rule-the-Roost.

A few weeks, maybe months later, my son walks into the house, after a weekend spent with his friends.

“Ah, this is my sanctuary,” he said, without much thought. “I love going to my room, closing myself in.”

Go figure, is what I didn’t say.