by Jill Burgoyne
My daughters are both toddlers. At fifteen months apart, one is a year old and the other is two. We are in the midst of room consolidation. Clarissa, the younger one, gets the crib. She is thrilled to be with her sister. Emery, the two year old, is likewise thrilled with the prospect of a roommate! The issue; however, is getting them to sleep and doing it safely.
Emery loves to jump into the crib with Clarissa and she just wants to play, but she doesn't know how to be careful when she jumps in. More often than not, she jumps right onto her dozing little sister. Clarissa wakes up with piercing screams and the process of settling down restarts.
For three nights, we simply slept in their room as guardians of the crib, until they were both asleep. It didn't take long for my husband and I to feel like walking zombies and something had to change. So we prayed for inspiration.
It wasn't long after we got our pillows and settled down on the bedroom floor last night, that the inspiration came; we'd use glow sticks. Glow sticks are a particular family favorite and we had just stocked up from the dollar store. The incentive went like this: each girl would get two glow sticks. If they were good (we specified staying in your own bed, and not pulling down the blinds) then, they got to keep both glow sticks. If they did not follow our rules, we would come take one glow stick away. The rules were mostly for Emery, because all Clarissa can do is try to go to sleep, but both were equally delighted with the glow sticks. We then left them alone.
An hour later, our rules had grown to include not throwing anything into Clissy's (Clarissa's) crib, not stealing glow sticks, and not taking blankets. Eric and I took turns going in and checking on the situation and one time, Emery got into the crib.
We could tell by Clarissa's cry that Emmy was in the crib and my heart sank. Emmy cherishes glow sticks and the novelty of having TWO in BED was so magical to her, that I couldn't be the one to go into the room. Eric bravely walked in and confiscated a glow stick from our two year old. She was devastated.
She cried and cried at the door; "I will be good Mommy, Daddy! Please give me my orange glow stick back!" Meanwhile, Eric and I sat on the couch holding hands, our eyes full of pain for our small child's plight and hearing her sobs and pleas through the door.
"Mommy, Daddy, I promise to stay in bed! I am sorry Daddy! Daddy!"
Desperate to ease our little girl's pain over her glow stick, we prayed and racked our brains for an idea. It was Eric who spoke.
"What if we gave her something extra to do, so she could have her glow stick back, like make her lie in her bed for two whole minutes without moving?"
I was up for anything. So, he made the deal with little Emery.
"Emery, I talked to Mommy and we have thought of a way for you to get your glow stick back....you can repent...if you lay in your bed for two minutes, you can have it back,"
Emery's sobbing turned into a teary eyed smile.
"I will stay on my bed Daddy," and she did. And she got that glow stick back. And she stayed in her bed the rest of the night.
My husband's use of the word "repent," caught my attention. I wouldn't have used it, but that is what she was doing. It made me think of how our Heavenly Father feels about us. There are rules set out and we can't keep them all. He loves us so much that he wants us to be happy and He has prepared a way, through our Savior, for us to be able to be happy in returning to our Heavenly Father and becoming like him.
It wasn't until I became a Mom that I understood more about how our Heavenly Father loves us. Teaching babies to sleep through the night is really tough on me. They don't want to sleep alone and they cry and cry and they want to get out. But we don't get them out because sleep is so important and them learning to sleep through the night is good for them. They don't understand. I remember crying and crying some nights in my crib, but what I never saw was my mother kneeling on the other side of the door hearing me and praying for me the same way that I did until my girls started sleeping through the night.