Now that Talitha is no longer rocked or fed to sleep, we’ve discovered a huge repertoire of songs to lull her before pretending to fall, or actually falling asleep, ourselves. The bedtime routine goes something like this:
Talitha: Read [insert book name] please.
Laurence/Me: We’ve already read three books. Books all done.
T: One more!
L/M: No, no. All done. Time to sleep.
T: I don’t want to sleep.
L/M: I can go for a bit so you can sleep.
T: No! No! Don’t go! Don’t go! Daddy/Mummy stay there! Sing!
And so the songs begin. Laurence’s theory is that we’re bargaining with her to get what we want, to sing rather than read another book. I wonder if Talitha knows this is the way it’s going to go anyway but let’s the drama play out of a natural sense of order.
She’s so particular about things going a certain way that she has even decided that there are “Mummy songs” and “Daddy songs”. Let me not attempt “What can you do with a drunken sailor” or “Ten green bottles”. Those are firmly “Daddy songs”. Mummy’s allowed “Twinkle Twinkle” and other done-to-death ditties like that.
When she’s tired enough, I try to mix it up by singing “grown up songs” from all the folk and country going rusty in my head because I hardly get to listen to it, let alone sing it. She won’t have it. “Rock-a-bye baby” or go home, Mummy.
If she’s gone sleepy enough, she’ll let me sing hymns. This had the advantage that she wouldn’t sing along so fell asleep more quickly but lately she’s even learning those and sometimes she’ll take a stab at something by the second verse, even if she’s not heard it before.
And then we trail off into silence. Left only with our thoughts. No books or phones allowed because she can’t ignore them anymore. We pretend to fall asleep and watch her eventually drift off herself.
Most days we have to remind each other that this too will pass. She won’t always need to be parented to sleep. At more generous times, we know that too soon we won’t remember what we used to sing to her back when she wanted us to sing.
Over to you, add some songs to our repertoire. What do you or did you sing to your littles? What do you remember your own parents singing?