The night ends with the little monkey on my chest, swaddled in his sleep sack, fresh off a feeding and milk drunk, eyes half-closed…my clumsy hands and his fickle, um, baby-ness the only things standing in the way of a good (quarter)-night’s sleep. So what do I do? There’s a routine. I’m propped up on the bed with three (not two) pillows, my chest at a 45-degree angle. His head goes on the right side of my chest, facing my chin. First, a few light burping pats with my right hand. Then, the circular, lull-him-into-slumber back rub. If his legs are moving, we’re in trouble. But if they’re curled up a la womb, we are good to go. A few minutes of this usually knocks him right out, but I throw in an extra five just to be safe (and because I like the bonding time). At some point, it’s time to put down or shut up. I turn slightly to the right, push off the bed with legs and abs, and soon we are standing. I lean back (because that’s what Fat Joe and Terror Squad told me to do) and creep slowly from our bed to his, as if the entire room was a hotel doorknob with a “do not disturb” sign. When I get to the bed, I lean over, put my hand under the right side of his face and lower him down, trying to maintain body contact so he doesn’t get suspicious. When he’s on the mattress, I put my hand on his stomach for a few seconds, then slowly pull away. He’s down. Colleen and I are free to sleep! But when I said earlier the night ends with this routine, I lied. It’s rinse and repeat again at 2 a.m. Or 3 a.m. Or whenever. But what strikes me about this ritual is how intentional it is. Parents do things “just so” because children like things “just so.” There’s comfort in the familiar. So, of course, my next post will be about how kids also rip you kicking and screaming away from your precious status quo and shake you of any delusional belief that what works one day will automatically work the next.

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