In my ongoing discovery of learning to be a Father, one thing in particular was missing. I was very comfortable having my daughter over, comforting her when she hurt herself, entertaining her to make her smile, and learning with her while she discovered the world. I would pick her in the morning, spent the day with her, and drop her off. Sometimes I would even be asked to give her a bath before I left.
The thing that was missing was sleepovers. I had never put her to bed until last fall. Last Thanksgiving, I was given the opportunity to have her over for the evening and I didn’t disappoint. Whatever I did, worked and I don’t recall any incidents. My only real memory was I recall her smiling face as we returned to her Mother’s place to prepare for Thanksgiving. I thought this was the start of more sleepovers to come, a start of a new chapter in my journey of “Fatherdom”. Unfortunately, due to various reasons, this chapter didn’t pan out as simple as I first imagined and I didn’t get another chance until February.
It was agreed upon that I would pick her up around 5:30, have her over for dinner, she would spend the night and return the next morning. The dinner part went perfectly and she ate well. This was followed by laughs and colouring and everything was great. Then bedtime was nearing, so we started to get ready by getting her into her PJs. I thought she would like to watch Dora before reading a story. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of doing this in my bed and when the time came to move her over to her bed, she began to howl. She cried for her Mom and there was nothing I could do to console her. She would go to the door, wanting to go, and when I picked her up to calm her down, she wouldn’t stop crying. She only stopped when I agreed to take her back. I never felt more like a failure as a Father.
Fast-forward to mid-April and I was given another opportunity. This time, I had a plan as I tried to learn from my previous mistakes. This time, after I picked her up at 4, we went to the park for some exercise and burn off some energy. Then following dinner, I focused on more low-key activities, to help gear down, as we aimed for bedtime. Then as the time approached, she watched an episode of Dora in her bed, followed by a story that I read to her. After 2 stories of Bernstein Bears, she was passed out! She still woke up around 3am to go to washroom, and I hardly slept because I always kept an eye on her, but overall, it was a successful night! What a relief!
Update: Four weeks later, she was over again, and despite her not napping until shortly after I picked her up, we had another successful sleepover – sleeping straight through the night!