Now that he’s two, we decided to get my son off breast milk. We’d made a few half-hearted efforts earlier, that consisted of his mother’s refusal, his increasingly hysterical protests, and acquiescence. It seemed to me that this would be as hard on Danylo’s mother as it would be on him.
Danylo has been walking to the bed, uncovering a corner of the covers. Climbing in, and calling for milk. Very manager-like. His grandmother jokes that he’s like the “holova kolhospu” (head of the collective farm).
After a talk yesterday, we decided that today was the day. We were still at Yuliia’s parents for the Easter holiday and it’d be easier with their support. Yuliia has been playfully cursing me all day. Danylo called for milk a few times, but we distracted him with toys or calling attention to the cat, or the sun, or going outside to play.
When Yuliia tried to put him down for his afternoon nap, Danylo went into hysterics. We tried driving him around in the car, but it didn’t help. He didn’t get any milk during lunch, and didn’t nap either. His sobbing hysterics relented with grandma offering playful distraction.
So he didn’t go sleep.
In the afternoon he continued getting extra attention from everybody, and went to the schoolyard with his grandfather. He also rode a bus for the first time, which was a big deal for him. He knows, cars, trains, buses and other modes of transportation very well. Combined with his knowledge of colors, this is often a subject of our conversations. Yuliia drove behind the bus for several stops, until Danylo and his grandfather existed.
At dinner, he was obviously exhausted and ate handfuls of macaroni with a sort of glazed look over his eyes.
When it was dark, his grandmother brought him into the bedroom where Yuliia was already laying down, pretending to sleep. “Mama is sleeping,” his grandmother told him, in Ukrainian.
“And Danny will sleep,” he answered. He laid down near her.
Grandma called me to look. He was quietly curled up in the center of the bed.
“I’ll cover you,” I said quietly and laid his baby blanket over him.
“And cover mommy,” he said.
Touched, and not wanting to disturb anything, I quickly moved to another room to get a blanket with which I covered Yuliia.
Everything was happening better than we could have hoped. I returned to my computer to work. A few minutes later, Danylo, in his diaper came into my room, picked up a plastic box of q-tips which he likes to play with. There was also a bed where I sat working and Danylo pulled open the corner of the cover. “Do you want to sleep here?” I asked. “No,” he said, and walked back to the bedroom where his mother lay. I followed and gave him a little boost as he climbed into bed, which for him is almost shoulder-high. He was still holding the box.
I covered him again. Gave both his mom and him a kiss, and laid down next to him until he was sound asleep. Yuliia reached over him and pinched me again — playfully. Making sure I realize what I’m putting her through. Then she held my hand as Danylo fell into a deeper and deeper sleep.
Addendum: The second day was very similar to the first. Crying after lunch. Not napping. Lots of attention, and then falling asleep quickly in the evening. On the third day we’d returned to our apartment. Danylo hadn’t napped. In the evening Yuliia read to him in bed. It was Yuliia who fell asleep. When she woke, she found Danylo sleeping on the floor beside the bed, facedown in a book. She called me to come look. He did not wake up as we lifted him carefully and tucked him in.