The funniest thing this week was…
…We put Fergus to sleep on my Aunty’s bed, ensuring he was well padded on all sides. He’s becoming quite mobile and can wriggle backwards and roll over, so we walled him in with pillows and cushions to make sure he didn’t roll off the bed or wriggle into an awkward position.
Back outside, we could hear Fergus crying himself to sleep…no big deal, he usually whimpers for less than a minute before zonking out. My little cousin, aged 4, wanted to check on him, but we instructed her to wait until he was properly asleep. But this time, he didn’t sleep. Instead he cried and cried some more.
“Please,” said my cousin.
“OK,” we said. “Sneak in there and see if he’s lying on his back or on his stomach.”
“Terrific,” she said. And in she snuck.
The theory was this: If he was lying on his stomach, we’d go in and turn him back on to his back, and this might help him sleep. If he was still lying on his back, then maybe he’d drop off to sleep in a few more minutes.
Anyway…my little cousin came back with the report: “He’s on his back.”
“Super,” we thought. “We’ll leave him for a few more minutes.”
But, he cried and cried and wouldn’t settle. Eventually, I went in to calm him down.
SHOCK! He wasn’t there.
Or at least, he wasn’t on the bed.
He’d reversed down the bed, pushed the pillow wall onto the floor, and then rolled himself right off the bed and onto the carpet. No wonder he was crying! The poor little guy must’ve had quite a shock. I gathered him up and went outside.
My cousin seemed unmoved by Fergus’ tale of woe. It was my Aunty who twigged first: “Was Fergus on the bed or on the floor when you checked?” she asked.
“On the floor,” answered Little Cousin, without hesitation.
And oh, how we laughed. She’d done exactly as we’d instructed. We’d simply asked her to report whether Fergus was on his back or his belly, and she’d done that. We hadn’t asked for further details. We hadn’t requested initiative.
And the moral of the story?
Well, there are two:
1) Never underestimate your child’s intelligence. If we’d asked Little Cousin to check whether Fergus was OK, she probably would’ve told us: no, he’s fallen off the bed and crashed onto the floor. Instead, we asked a closed question and she gave a closed answer, as directed and expected.
2) If your baby cries and cries and won’t settle, check to make sure he’s still where you put him.