When the little man was about six months old, we began our first experience with sleep training. He quickly learned to soothe himself and all was good.
Until he got a cold.
I have heard from a few moms, “Everything’s fine until they get a cold.” This was certainly true for us. We began a slow year-long decline into what eventually became a family nightmare. Hourly wake-ups, screaming, no sleep for us, fighting…it was awful. And then at the peak of it all we had house guests sleeping in the room next to his, so it got worse as we were jumping at every noise so as not to disturb them.
The day they left, when we was about 20 months old, we began our second round of sleep training. Three days in and we were good as new.
And then, as some of you will know, we had a terrible, awful, mind-numbing setback a couple of months ago. Things are actually somewhat manageable now, and with a few “new normals” such as his door having to be halfway open and his Ikea moon light having to be on all night, we’re coping. The wake-ups are less frequent, the screaming is rare, and the fear and anxiety seem to have gone away.
So now he has a cold. And not just any cold. This is a green monster, complete with the worst cough I have ever heard in his four and a half years.
Kids love boundaries, they thrive on guidelines and rules. But give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. They’re always testing, checking to see if the boundaries still stand. Consistency is the key, and in the long run it’s better for everyone.
But what do you do when your little man is hacking up his lungs, streaming out of several orifices, and generally feeling yucky?
You love him. You care for him. You help him blow his nose. You keep him home from preschool. You rub Vicks Vaporub on his chest and back at bedtime.
And you stick to the routine.
With the hell that we’ve just come through (and are still dealing with), we will not go back. The bedtime routine holds strong, with the occasional application of Vicks thrown in. The responses to his wake-ups are the same.
And it’s working. The cold has not impacted the progress, and we’re moving ahead. We could have coddled him and opted to sleep in his bed with him to comfort him through the night, but then we would be right back in the sleep-deprived nightmare that nearly drove me to a breakdown. That simply cannot happen.
Mr. Awesome, when he does occasionally get sick, is the exact OPPOSITE of a Man Cold. He will even say “I’m dot thick” in the stuffed up effort to prove he’s just fine. He believes so strongly in mind over matter that when, on the rare occasion he actually admits to feeling rough, I’m convinced he’s dying.
I look at the husbands of my friends and colleagues and listen to the stories of their whimpering and snuffling. They have Man Cold written all over them.
I believe that every parent has the right to raise their children how they see fit, as long as they are not endangering their health or safety. And I believe that what we’re doing now is the best thing for our family and for the little man. He’s powering through this bug and he’s doing fine.
The world does not need another Man Cold.