I have the luxury of spying on the bun. I can actually say that it's in his best interest at this point, and he won't accuse me of not trusting him or invading his privacy.* In fact, if he knew I was there he'd probably just want to play rather than to slam the door in my face and not speak to me for a week. We've been in a night-time transition these days. That's a little misleading since it seems every week is a transition, but at least this one involves a little less of me than before. Because I never know what's going on in the bun's room once I close the door, I have to assume he's doing just fine in his little jail-house accommodations.
When I've put him to sleep the past few nights, he's cried out for me. Once in a while it's downright bloodcurdling desperation, but there's been less of that lately: sometimes it seems that he has to pretend he's bummed out that I'm leaving, to drum up concern, as though to say, "God, it's about time she left. Oh yeah, I gotta make it seem like I need her, better cry." And I feel terrible as I close the door, while he's just cooling his jets as my footsteps fade away.
Sometimes when he climbs up to grasp for me on my way out the door he hits the button on his crib aquarium, and the lights come on with the cloying, saccharine music. I always assumed he hit it by accident. Tonight I learned the truth.
From my secret lair behind the bathroom door, I watched him. And there he sat, staring at his fish tank, sweet as can be. There was no crying. He wasn't asleep. He was just watching the fish bobble back and forth to the sappy tune, thinking about god knows what. When the song ended and the lights went out, I assumed that he would just lie down and go to sleep, but he turned on the fish tank again, completely willfully, completely independently. It was his "Tonight Show," and he wasn't quite ready for bed yet.
I watched this for three different cycles. Eventually the fish tank wasn't enough and he turned on the bird house, presumably the "Late, Late Show" of bunhood. I was completely mesmerized. Either my husband or I are with him virtually every waking minute, and I assumed that his time in his crib was spent either complaining that we weren't there, waking up somewhat crankily, or sleeping. Instead, he's having a little "me" time--a little break from the parents and taking in some relaxation.
I would be lying if I said that I was unmoved by it. But I also have to admit a little discomfort. Since he was born we've been the center of his world. We still are. But every day that passes is another day closer to his complete independence; his ability to entertain himself alone in his crib is a step closer to that ultimate goal and I'm both terribly proud and terribly sad. One day he won't need me to tuck him in at all.
• • •
Maybe I can still spy on him when he's sleeping.
*Another great feature of the bun's inability to defend himself is the fabulous scape-goat he provides. My husband, who has a density several times greater than earth gravity and therefore sucks any liquid to his shirt in a matter of milliseconds recognized this valuable feature tonight when I commented on how messy his t-shirt was. He looked at the bun. "It's his fault," he smiled.