My Only Way Out

(is to go so far in)

What’s your trigger?

Posted by Cauri on September 28, 2006

I’ve spent a lot of my time lately noticing people’s sleep routines.  Since it is my job now, to get little people to fall asleep, it’s just been kinda interesting to notice how everybody has a different trigger…a different little trick that sends them into slumber.  Some people love to have their backs rubbed, some like them scratched, some need their hands held, some need lots of stories or songs, some just want you to be sitting quietly on the other side of the room, they just want someone near, and some just want to be alone. 

I’m usually pretty good at figuring out somebody’s “trigger”, but this past week has been rough.  I just babysat J, a 15-month-old boy, for the second time Tuesday night.  I’d gotten him to fall asleep by snuggling into me on the couch.  When I went to move him, he woke up and realized I wasn’t Mommy, panicked, and threw up on me. 

S, a 5-yr-old girl I’ve been babysitting since she was 2, has been giving me a really hard time lately.  It’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll be spending at least an hour trying to get her to fall asleep, while her younger sister merely has to crawl into bed with a cup of water at her side, and she’s out.  I was trying to figure out why S is having such a hard time (Dad’s been away working, Mom’s had a lot going on), so last time I brought over an old stuffed animal (a white cat, Symphony, from when I was a little girl), and I explained how special it was to me.  After a little head scratching, S was sound asleep within 5 minutes, Symphony pressed into her face.  I guess she just needed a little extra security. 

And on Monday night, I was babysitting N, a 2-yr-old boy, who I’ve babysat at least once or twice a week for over a year now (but hardly ever at bedtime), wasn’t necessarily giving me a hard time, but he wasn’t easy to read.  We read a lot of stories, he had soothing music playing in his room, his bed was piled with stuffed animals, and I rubbed his back for a while, but he wouldn’t stop talking to me (“You have to make friends with Taylor, Courtney.”  “Ok, sure N, but now we have to be quiet and just listen to the music.”)  That didn’t work, because N just poured out various facts about the Beatles, or the Wiggles, or random instruments. 

I finally left him, cuddling Elmo, listening to his music, and I stood outside his door.  I heard, in his tiny whispering voice, “No, Elmo, I can’t play with you right now.  It’s time for bed.  Shhh, go to sleep, Elmo, go to sleep.” 

It melted my heart.  It was the most adorable thing I’d ever heard.  I texted Ryan the story, and, out of all of my babysitting stories that I tell him day after day, of the most hilarious/disgusting/adorable things kids do and say, he said this N story actually made him feel that pang inside—that he wants to have kids.  This is coming from the boy, who on one of our first dates, told me he’d be happy just having dogs for the rest of his life.   

Of course that sent me on a whirlwind of fantasies, how many will we have, what will their names be, how will they fall asleep?  Of course, I already know, because Ryan and I share the same trigger—Scratching.  We’re going to have a family of happy little scratchers. 

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