There’s a cliche which applies very strongly to parenting. Something about wishes, and caution.
I’ve read and heard horror stories from other parents, about children stealing under the covers in the dead of night, or sons and daughters being unable to sleep in their own rooms. Ian’s never really had a problem sleeping. Waking was another thing.
He’d shout. ‘Daaaaaady!’ Every morning, apparently unable to move, Ian yelled for our attention. ‘I’m ready to get up!’
Rolling my eyes, I’d also yell. ‘So get up!’
‘I need you!’
So one of us would shuffle to his room, and lift him from the bed. Spell broken, feet free, he’d run off. ‘You know, you can get out of bed yourself.’
And last month, he finally learned. In the mornings, we hear a thud and padding of feet. The rattle of a doorknob. The rattle of a doorknob. The rattle of a doorknob. The click of an opened door and the padding of feet.
Ah, sweet success.
Except, now that Ian knows he’s able—and allowed—to leave his room by himself, he knows that he’s able—and allowed—to leave his room by himself.
Last week, Kelly and I had just gone to bed—Ian an hour earlier—and were talking, when we heard a rattle. Our door opened. ‘I need to go tinkle.’
He didn’t, but he tried. As I led him back to his room, I explained that he should always knock on Mommy and Daddy’s door.
The next night, and the next, and the next, and the last, about fifteen or twenty minutes after we close Ian’s door, we hear thudding and shuffling from the floor above. Clicking and stomping and opening and closing.
He has five minutes before I move from the couch. Then, at the bottom of the stairs, I say, menacingly, ‘Ian.’ The other night, as the echo of my voice faded, his head poked from behind a wall. ‘I had to tinkle.’