[BlogEntry] Stuffed Animals

So my son sleeps with about 5 stuffed animals in his bed. When he was younger my wife would wait until he was asleep, then go in and take them all out so he won't suffocate. I never really thought it was that big of a risk, but typically guilt would get the better of me and I'd go take them out before I went to bed, closer to midnight.

Lately I noticed that, when I went back into the room, the animals were already on the floor. I assumed my wife was doing it, when she'd come home late and I knew for a fact she went right to bed. Animals still on the floor. It then dawned on me that he was apparently doing it himself. Not in an angry, "I don't want to go to sleep so I'm throwing things" sort of a way, since I never heard a peep. He just knew that the animals don't stay in there to sleep, so he throws them out.

Recently I messed up his little brain when he woke up from a nap too early and I tried to get him to go back to sleep. Thinking that I would give him some things to play with as he drifted off, I laid his head down on the blanket and then started putting the animals in the crib with him. He sat right up, saying "Back! Back! Back!" and putting the animals back where they belong. Daddy's mistake, I had just given the signal that it was indeed time to get up. Didn't think that one through.

This has become something of a game in the morning, because I will pick up the animals from the floor and offer them to him. "Back!" he will say, and place the animals in their appointed positions. He cannot do the blanket or the large duck, but it is cute and helpful nonetheless. Once everything is back in place, he wants to get out.

I tried taking him out of bed first and letting him collect the animals (so I don't have to keep bending to get them), but he is too small to reach them back into the crib, so I would have to pick him up each time so he could fling them back into the crib. Work for Daddy, either way.

This morning it dawns on me — I have a 3 yr old. She follows me into the room this morning, where my son is standing in his crib waiting for us. "Give your brother back his animals," I tell her. And lo and behold, it works! She gets the animals, hands them to him, he puts them back. And I don't have to lift a finger.

Fatherhood is awesome.