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Cara Figlia - Goodnight, and Good Riddance, Moon

Cara figlia,

First, thank you for sleeping until 5:00! That was a much-needed miracle. Today, I can deal with the world again, especially since I went to bed at 9:00. Let's do that every night, shall we?

Now Pumpkin, your daddy and I are both readers. We love books and reading and good stories. So I expected that you would love books right from the beginning. From birth. Babies just lie there, right? So of course you would sit still and love to hear us read you books. I bought a ton of board books, as I was sure you would love to sit there and listen to them.

Not you, my active little baby. There is not a day in your short life that you've wanted to sit still for any length of time. At first, I was frustrated by your lack of interest in books. I tried to read Goodnight Moon every night to create a bedtime routine. But you were too young and not at all interested. So I let it go, and the bedtime routine at that point was changing your diaper and nursing you to sleep.

Then, around 6 or 7 months, your daddy and I realize it was time for a real bedtime routine. After dinner, we give you a bath, put lotion on your dry skin (I love Aquaphor!!), put on your pajamas, read you a book, turn off the light, and nurse you to sleep. Again, I tried Goodnight Moon every night, thinking that you'd hear it and settle down, associating it with going to sleep. Still, you wiggled and wriggled during it, but I continued. You just had to get used to it, I was sure.

Around 8 or 9 months, you actually started showing interest in some books. Lo and behold, we discovered the books you love!! Touch and feel books! It makes so much sense that you, so active and grabby, would love books that gave you something to feel and do. The touch and feel, the pull up the flaps, the pull the tab and watch something move... these are the books you love.

I started reading two of those books to you and then Goodnight Moon, still pushing that darn book, because I was sure you'd associate it with going to sleep and start to settle down. You would enjoy the That's Not My... books, the Tails book, the Wake Up, Papa Bear! book and the Where Is Baby's Belly Button? book. Oh, how you chuckle when I pull out the Where Is Baby's Belly Button? book! But when I pulled out Goodnight Moon? You would sit still for a minute and then start squirming, looking over the side of the chair where we keep all the books, as if trying to see something you liked better.

Finally last week, I gave up. Why was I pushing that book? Yeah, it's kind of cute, but the lack of symmetry actually bothers me (why are we saying goodnight to the clock? It wasn't mentioned in the first half of the book. And goodnight nobody? What's the point in that?). I had never heard of it when I was a child, so no sentimentality for me. And to be frank, I have been incredibly sick of it for the past few months. So why was I pushing it for so long when neither you or I were interested?

I think this is one example of something parents do. We get it in our heads that THIS is the thing to do, the right way, the best idea, whatever. And we keep at it and keep at, often ignoring the fact that our child is either not interested or that it is not the right thing for our child. So, mia bambina, I will make an effort to be more in tune to what YOU want and need, regardless of how I think things SHOULD be (I've already given up on what the books and "experts" say). You are such a special and unique baby, and I'm constantly impressed with you. Thanks for teaching me this valuable lesson in letting you be you.

Now, how about we sit down and find that baby's belly button?

Ti amo tutti,


-KZ said…
ours couldn't sit still for books until she was almost 10 months old. now at 15 months, she loves "reading" books on her own. She also loves sitting in my lap while i read a book to her. any book. i've even read parts of Ender's Game. (thanks for the recommendation BTW, it's SO good)

what helped was i'd constantly try to keep her attention. the way to do that was point out things and describe the pictures as well as actually reading the book. I taught her how to turn the page, so then she had something else to do. yeah sometimes it was just turning the pages, and no reading, but it kept her active and focused on the book. once she could point, i was all about teaching her to point to specific things in the pictures.

a lot of times pushing something like a bedtime routine or feeding routine will work eventually if you are consistent with it and don't give up. those are major things that you can win at over time. with other smaller things, it's best to just give up and try at a later time. Ours also didn't like Goodnight Moon until she reached the phase where she liked all books. we just stopped trying to read it to her and came back to it later.

sorry for babbling - another thing i just thought of is we put all the board books on the floor and let her play with them. that might have helped her get interested in books at her own pace. the negative side-effect of that being that "Eating the Alphabet" by Lois Ehlert was taken literally by our little reader :-)
La folle maman said…
Lil' Monkey has about 3 that he likes (one is the That's my Teddy you introduced me to a while back).

Have you tried the Counting Kisses book yet? That's our bedtime book (although DH hasn't found value in it yet, I'm guessing he might when I go to FL for my cousin's wedding).
Monkey loves it and I can always count on a giggle or at least a smile on lucky number 7 (that's when you kiss their belly 7 times).

I'm not a fan of the Goodnight Moon book either (sorry KZ). It doesn't have any rhythm to it and I think that's what my little one likes about the books he's interested in right now. The cloth book he really loves, Fuzzy Bee and Friends is so sing-songy and loaded with rhythm that I've memorized the words and don't even need to be looking at the book anymore. Perhaps he'll be more interested in the Goodnight Moon book eventually but I've given up on it too for now.
Cloud said…
Who knows why babies pick certain books to love? Mine is enamored with a book called "Baby and Me". She likes to touch the (painted, flat) face of the baby. I now know that book by heart.

Another favorite here is "The Very Hungry Caterpiller". Maybe your Pumpkin would like it, too- the little holes are apparently really fun to put your fingers in if you are a baby!
Peace said…
My wee teen when once a younger boy baby, would not sit still for books either. Our bedtime ritual was 3 songs sung by Mommy, while he drank his bottle, and smiled at me, (oh, I miss those days, cherish them!). Today, at 13, much to my dismay he is not a big fan of reading. He will read assignments. So, I assign him a book to read every month, and we discuss it, lol. It's not too torturous for him. He helps with the choices. We try to choose books that get right to the point and those that will not take up too much of his time. He loved I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and said he'd like to read the sequels. Whoa!!!
limboland la la said…
Well I'm impressed that you learned so quickly...seems to me like you're quite an enlightened mommy. I think it's so cool that you're learning to recognize how your own expectations and desires (and thoughts of what would lead to a sleepy happy child) might interfere with your ultimate goal-- which in this case is a sleepy happy child.

it's so neat that you can change your routine....

unfortunately I am not so blessed. my expectations and preconceptions to the road of happiness routinely interfere with my actualizing it.
just ask my boyfriend. :)

wuzzup dearie. happy you got some sleep.
caramama said…
-kz: It's good know that the Pumpkin may really get into reading books when she is a few months older. I really appreciate your tips, and in fact have tried most of them over the past few months. I'm glad it worked for your little one, and I hope it does for ours. I have hope. Glad you are enjoying Ender's Game!

la folle maman: She's okay with the Counting Kisses book, as long as I make it active enough with the kissing, but she's still done with it before we reach the end. The same author did the Where Is Baby's Belly Button? book that she LOVES, so thanks for introducing me to that author.

cloud: I'll have to check out Baby and Me. I've tried and re-tried The Very Hungry Caterpiller, but she is not yet interested.

peace: Great idea to do songs instead of books, if the baby isn't interested. And I love that you assign books to your son and you discuss it. It's like your own mini-book club! And I love Maya Angelou! Boy's got good taste.

limboland lala: It doesn't feel quick, but I suppose I'm not as obstinate as say my dad. Trust me, you will learn to change your routines and expectations with a kid. They make you. ;-)
La folle maman said…
I forgot that the Where's my belly button book was the same author. I'll have to try that one. Do you just point to the belly button? I'm asking because Monkey is in a hair pulling phase (hopefully a phase!) and when I bend down to kiss him while reading the Counting Kisses book he tries to grab my hair and sometimes succeeds in pulling a few strands out!
caramama said…
la folle maman: The Where Is Baby's Belly Button book is a lift flaps book, so I just point to the picture of the belly button cause usually the Pumpkin's belly button is covered when we read it. She loves to lift the flaps... and try to tear them off!
ImpostorMom said…
Boog got That's not my dragon for his birthday and he loves that book.

Just in the past few weeks he has really started to get into books. He doesn't really want us to read them to him though, he wants to do it himself.
MommyEm said…
Dorothy loves books and is very clear about those she wants to read and those she doesn't. For months now, our morning starts out with her getting on the ground after her first diaper change and crawling over to where we pile up all the books and her searching (i.e. tossing around) around until she finds the one she wants, then she holds the book up to me and says "EEEEEEEEEEE!!!" And if I don't get to reading, she will follow me around with the book (sometimes hitting me with it) until I sit and read.

I would like to think that her love of books is due to my fabulous parenting and all the reading we did in the early months, but honestly, I just think it is all her and her personality. I do remember her interest in all books really picking up once she learned how to turn the pages herself, which my husband taught her at arond seven or eight months.

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