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The Double Standard

My almost-2-year-old son has a double standard when it comes to my husband and me. On the nights when my husband puts him to sleep, I hear cooing and giggling pouring out of his bedroom. I hear my husband read him a couple of stories and my son try to imitate the words. I hear them say good night to the menagerie of stuffed animals in the room and then I hear the sweet sounds of a lullaby. My husband emerges from the room, my son is sound asleep, and we move on with the evening. When it’s my turn to do the bedtime routine things look completely different. From the moment I pick up my son to carry him upstairs he starts wailing and thrashing. This behavior continues while I try to put him in his Good Night diaper and pajamas, despite my cooing, singing, pleading, and cajoling. When we move to the glider for story time, he keeps wriggling and rarely settles in for a good read. He continues protesting the entire bedtime ritual while I settle him in his crib, and it isn’t until I return to his room a second time that he quiets down.

I’ve watched my husband do the routine. He’s no gentler than I, his voice no more on key. So why the struggle? My husband says it’s because my son prefers spending time with me and is therefore upset when he realizes it’s time to say goodnight. A kind hypothesis, but clearly a pacification. I don’t want to completely cede responsibility for the bedtime routine because I know (I insist on continuing to believe) that it can be an important bonding opportunity. So I will persist. I will practice my singing, fine tune my technique, and hope that each night will be a bit better than the one before.

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