This Book Makes Porter Cry


Every night we have a bedtime ritual that involves taking a bath, putting on PJ’s, occasionally Luke and I will grab Porter’s hands and feet and stretch him out (which must feel really nice), Porter nurses, Luke reads us a book, we count the various items in a picture on his wall, sing Wheels On The Bus, put Busy Bee to bed, Luke turns out the light, we have kisses all around and then I rock Porter for a couple of minutes until he says, “nigh nigh”. I put him in his bed and, usually, within mere moments he’s asleep for the night. It works, it’s awesome. It works so well that Aunt Anna and Uncle Micah can do it and Porter sleeps just fine.

Back to the title of this post. This whole routine has had a wrench thrown into it for the last two nights because of the very unassuming children’s book Time For Bed. I grabbed it at the library last week after Luke proclaimed that all stories read at bedtime should end with the characters going to sleep. It works beautifully with the other books we read, like this one:


Big Red Barn, much like Time For Bed, has an assortment of animals as babies and their fully grown parents together, like this:

“It’s time for bed little cat, little cat,
So snuggle in tight, that’s right, like that.”
Time For Bed

In the Big Red Barn, after a day of playing the animals head back to the big red barn and all fall asleep together, like one big happy family. Piglets cuddle with foals, kittens and puppies put aside their differences to cuddle, all while the bats fly around eating all the bugs that so many animals must attract. It’s a lovely and serene bedtime and I’m sure Porter would be happy to curl up on some soft hay next to a furry critter.

Surly the Time For Bed book would evoke the same sleepy visions that Porter knows and loves from many of his other bedtime books. No…wrong…not the case. In fact, it’s so far off the mark that he gets to the last page, sees these images and begins to cry. First a little tear, then he whispers the words “mama, baby nigh nigh” and then he sobs. Heaving, tear jerking sobs. It’s seriously tragic.

“The stars on high are shining bright-
Sweet dreams, my darling, sleep well…”

“good night!”

Maybe it’s the look on the baby’s face, or the fact that his mother leaves him alone to fall asleep? Really, all of the other babies get to fall asleep with their mamas. But whenever Porter see the mother tucking in the child he tears up, says “mama” in the saddest voice I’ve ever heard and then turns the page to see the comatose baby. He looks at me and cries, cries, cries. I then reach to give him a hug but he insists on reading the book backwards and saying all the animal sounds, first through tears and finally back to normal. Presumably he does this to take his mind of the terror that is portrayed on the last two pages of this book.

I thought the first night was a fluke so I tried reading it again, but it backfired so hard that he wouldn’t let me leave the room until I had rocked him in the rocking chair for 15 minutes and was practically sleeping. He did fall asleep, but this book is going back to the library ASAP. In fact I’m going to return it myself, instead of letting him put it in the book drop like all the other books. Yikes!

I’m not sure what I’ve learned from this little episode, but it’s kind of sweet to see my child having such a strong reaction to an image in a book. He is clearly capable of feeling deeply, beyond the typical laughter and frustrated yells that occur throughout the day. And I am certainly a person that understands the need to cry in order to express an array of emotions. On the other hand, it’s so sad to see him feel upset and brought to tears, even though I know it’s important to experience these emotions. This parenting thing just got pretty deep. Compared to the depth of my son’s human emotion, all the worrying, preparing and observing that I’ve done up to this point seems almost superficial. At least it’s another 10 years before puberty starts. Sheesh.

Nigh nigh.

***

Playing this morning at the Farmer’s Market.
With Dada earlier today. Those were happier times.
On our way home from Sarah’s, ready for nigh nigh.
Then I read that freakin’ book. What was I thinking?!

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