Long before I became a parent, I had heard, seen and read at numerous places the importance of a bedtime ritual for babies. All of them spoke about how putting the babies to bed at a fixed time, in the same environment, well fed, with a good diaper to keep them dry all night, puts them to sleep within minutes, ensuring a sound sleep all night. I read the same in the many books I had read during pregnancy.
My personal experience as a parent, has been quite different though. Since infancy, Pari resists sleeping as if it were a punishment. It took me sometime to realize her real reason for doing so. She is a fun-loving, mischievous child who loves to wrap in as much play she can manage in her day. When we try to put her to sleep, she gets greedy to push her day a wee bit longer, till she can no longer resist sleeping.
It took me almost nine months to understand her psychology. In the meantime, time-tested rituals like singing lullabies, patting her on my shoulder while taking her around the room/house, reading to her from colorful books and trying to feed her warm milk were tried with many modifications but to no avail. In an attempt to prove that these time-tested rituals can’t fail, we even had my distant aunts visit us with newer remedies, only to end up giving up to Pari’s determination to not sleep till very late in the night.
The final resolution to this major concern came the day, Pari started talking. It was then we started having a dialogue about the happenings of the day, what she learnt, loved, disliked and felt. Among this new-found routine, Pari’s all-time favorite is hearing me tell her stories from my life. Childhood in particular. If I try to tell her stories from Panchtantra or Aesop’s fables, she interrupts me saying she wants to hear the ‘real stories’ where her mother is in the lead role.
Narrating to her the minutest details of my life as a child, my funny assumptions, my crazy actions and more, has helped me bond better with my child. While these stories help put Pari to sleep with a smile, they help me introspect and relive my childhood with the mind of an adult to understand my actions of the past so much better.
I have come to believe that the memories or moments of the past if never repeated or shared over time, slowly fade away from our memories. So, if you want to treasure them, re-visit them. Narrate them to others. It’ll keep them forever young, teaching you a new moral every time.
One more fascinating revelation that this bedtime ritual gifted me was, it helped me connect with my child as a friend. While talking about my own childhood to Pari, I can’t help but feel as if we both exist in the same time-frame and are of the same age. In those moments, I cease to be her mother and play her pal which is quite a fulfilling experience for both of us. The most amazing moments are those when Pari points to me, I shouldn’t have acted in a particular way, like tried to pat a puppy without being more cautious about it’s mother’s proximity.
I somehow feel, our brief bedtime ritual has been doing us immense good. It’s been helping my little darling know her mother better and me reminiscing the fond memories of my childhood, making my little mate part of them while re-living them with her. This bedtime ritual has helped me learn many important lessons as a parent, seeing my parent’s actions (of the time I was a child) in new light.
Today I can proudly say, I am glad my little princess defied the time-tested bedtime rituals for our good. Resisting change is our inherent behavior, but accepting the change is where the treasure of the unseen beauty & new lessons of life lie.