As parents we often shoot ourselves in the foot, (promise an ice cream later in the day and when it gets to that point you know that a dose of sugar is the last thing your child needs, but “you said…”). It happens to me fairly frequently and I suppose other parents experience the same thing.
Every once in a while we experience the opposite: parental serendipity. That is, it looks like we’re headed for another self-inflicted mishap when our luck somehow changes. This is what happened recently in our house:
Both of our kids are not brilliant sleepers. Morgan didn’t sleep through until she was 16 months old, which seemed like a long time to me then. Vivien turned two in February and is still going strong with her night waking. We thought it might be time for a bit of creative intervention. Enter the “sleep-all-night” fairy from my childhood. (That’s right, I didn’t sleep through until I was 2 and a half, so I can’t really blame them, can I?) The sleep all-night-fairy would bring you a little something if you slept through the night. My parents never bought anything. They would just leave a little something from around the house as a sign that she had been there, which delighted me. My grandma thought it may have been merely the thought that the fairy came and check on me reassured me enough to keep me in my bed at night.
I thought Vivien could benefit from the fairy and so introduced the concept to her. She seemed mildly interested but soon ran off to do something else. Morgan heard this and was very keen to know more, “How big was the fairy?”, “How did she get in the house?”, “Could we write her a letter or call her?” Of course this was the moment when it dawned on me that I had again shot myself in the foot. Now I had to create the fairy for Morgan, who has no problem sleeping while Vivien was uninterested.
Of course creating the fairy for a four and a half year old is much more difficult than it is for a two year old. I can’t just leave any old thing from around the house on Morgan’s bedside. Much more thought and explanation is required for the fairy’s actions. This is more work, but it also makes for a better fairy. The “sleep-over-fairy” as Morgan calls her, is very thoughtful. She comes and checks on you at night and does something for you or brings you a little something (also never bought) that she thinks you might need. It might be that she pulls the covers up for you at night when you are cold or leaves you a card to write to your friends you are missing in Australia. If she does nothing, it means you didn’t need anything.
While Morgan doesn’t need any help sleeping through, I think she is in need of a little magic and special looking after in this difficult transition from Australia to America that Vivien just doesn’t need in the same way. Somehow, the sleep-over-fairy is what we needed most now.