Song was a large part of early childhood education when I worked at a private school several years back. "Follow, follow..." The teachers would chirp to children my son's age and older. I liked that idea, and it seemed to work.
I sang lullabies to Beren, and Jared would often play music when trying to lull our resistant child into the day's final transition, from waking to sleeping. It seemed more the duration of our efforts than our efforts themselves that finally brought sleep.
Once, and only once, were we able to gently send Beren back to sleep with song alone. I remember it well: Jared and I slept in our bed, and Beren slept in his crib (the crib part is mysterious as he rarely slept in his crib, but more so in our bed). He woke and whimpered.
We were finely tuned to his nighttime waking so through his infancy. "Hum Allah, hum Allah, hum Allah, hum Allah. Prince of peace, won't you hear our plea? Prince of peace... Hum Allah, hum Allah..." He fell back asleep, and likely woke again two hours later but the deep lyrics of Pharoah Sanders and our imitation of his soulful jazz allowed a couple hours sleep for all.
But overall, it has seemed Beren's not one for song. Sing-a-longs at libraries were busts, with Beren headed for the door or my armpit. Jared had the same experience. When he was eight or more months old, I sang my best country blues solo for him in the kitchen one afternoon while I tried to wash dishes. He smiled from the high chair, but not much more.
Whenever Jared played music, Beren would demand that Jared stop. "Too noisy," he seemed to say. Twice, I sang Maybelle Carter's version of Cannonball Blues, slightly edited, and Beren burst into tears at the sadness of a "baby" going away on a train.
This past year, Beren has taken up recorder, harmonica, and banging on our marching drum. The latter is sometimes for disruptive effect, but he and Jared duet frequently. He's also working on whistling. It's been fun for my very musically inclined husband.
I've also picked up a couple more shifts on the bedtime routine. As Beren's gotten older, it's gotten easier to be out at night, for all of us. And so, Jared and I have picked up a night class each, plus a little time with friends in the evening.
Making the final departure from Beren's room can be tough. "Momma, cuddle me." "Momma, don't go." "Momma, stay a little longer." Well, sure. I'd be happy to, and I do. Prying his clinging hand from mine doesn't feel quite like saying "sweet dreams." There's a limit, though, especially since he falls asleep most quickly when he's alone. Otherwise, he'd chat until delirious.
Jared has a funny routine that works sometimes. He kisses the pillows and blankets goodnight. Beren laughs and Jared makes an exit. It worked for me a couple times, but then I had to get creative. One night Beren asked me to sing The Mountain Kitten Song. It goes like this:
Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meowntin, meow meow meow meow meowntin...
We harmonize. Beren's grip loosens and I descend the steps of his bunk bed, fumble in the dark for my slippers, and sing all the way down the steps. Our song drifts to a close, and sometimes Beren's eyes close for the night, too.