Shhh, Don't Say a Word
Confession: My son Luca is 5 and he falls asleep with us in the living room every night. But wait: Before you rush to judgment, let me explain. My husband and I are not the kind of overindulgent, permissive parents who let their child rule the roost.
My hubby's Roman, I'm Viking—we're both from no-nonsense, old-school stock. But here's the situation: We live in a rambling old Spanish villa (I'm not complaining; we've thrown some great parties here), and in terms of distance, my son's bedroom is about as far from the living room by the way the crow flies as you can get. After dinner, bath and book, I kiss him goodnight and join my husband downstairs for a glass of wine in front of the fire, three long hallways and a staircase away. So far, so good—the parents are clearly in control, you're thinking. Well, yes, until about a year ago, when Luca came downstairs, having woken up from a bad dream, panic in his eyes.
We let him stay. In truth, we wanted him to stay. We wrapped him in a blanket, told him to close his eyes and out he went. It was that easy. My husband and I gazed down at his sleeping face and at each other and, in the peaceful silence of the night, a long frustrating day suddenly righted itself. Is this so wrong?
I realize Dr. Sears and Penelope Leach don't exactly endorse this practice in their books on child rearing. And I realize most of my son's little friends sleep in their beds all night long. And I realize the fact that I haven't shared this with many people implies a certain amount of discomfiture on my part. But will Luca honestly be spoiled by these Neolithic powwows in front of the fire with his parents? Or will he grow up to have fond memories of togetherness and the warmth of crackling logs and open windows ushering in the crisp night air and a chorus of crickets? I'm banking on the latter.
These days won't last forever. Nothing does. One day soon my little son will stop waking up and coming down to join us and my husband and I will have the night to ourselves—which will be great in a totally different way. And so around 9 o'clock, when I hear the little bump-bump-bump on the steps and the echoey patter of feet coming down the hall, I think to myself, "We're all here now." And we are. For a little while longer, anyway.