How To Put a One-Year-Old To Bed
The auntie edition
Growing up in Nigeria — taught me the importance of respecting your elders — and this practice disciplined my approach to people who were older than me — even if it was by a couple of years. In boarding school — we were ordered to use the title “sister” ahead of the names of slightly older students — and if the distance in age was notable — we had to substitute that with “senior.”
My parents were quite social, which meant that our house was a revolving door of older folks — and culturally that meant the relentless use of “auntie” or “uncle” regardless of blood ties.
Time has finally placed me in the position of being the mature adult who doesn’t quite feel the reality of such an existence — but whether or not I can accept my current disposition doesn’t change the fact that I am the aunt to two adorable little girls — thanks to my brother’s growing brood.
When I decided to move home two weeks ago — the motivation stemmed from my desire to be geographically closer to my family — in a way that would permit me to perform the duties that I’ve spent most of my life hiding from — with no gain.
A week after my arrival — I was given the task of babysitting the five-year-old and one-year-old — with a little help from my parents — as my my brother and his wife tried to make the most of a rare night out.
Things started out quite festively after the hastened disappearing act worked like a charm. I was given the verbal cliff notes on what to expect and there was little doubt that I was prepared for the PG version of a rare night without the accompaniments of mind-altering companions.
It didn’t take very long for the baby to notice the absence of the two people she arrived with — and just like clockwork the wailing began with the fury of a little being who couldn’t resist throwing a fit over the reality of her current situation.
It was resoundingly loud — and the tempo never budged as each of us passed her around — hoping that the right embrace would initiate a much-needed truce. But the no matter how hard we tried to calm her down — it seemed that our efforts were thwarted by the desperate energy — filling the space that echoed the soundtrack of our misery.
Finally — I took control and allowed my weary parents to focus on the manageability of the older sister.
There was an instinctual purpose that gripped me as I cradled my exhausted niece and headed for a different view that would hopefully bond us into the sleep she was strongly evading.
The teary session was still in bloom despite the change of scenery and suddenly I was prompted to use her name as the main verse to an impromptu tune that also propelled me to sway from side to side with slight jerks.
Before long — the silence blanketed the air as my niece was captivated by the rhythm of the movements that gave her reason to listen to the unspoken connection of two humans — who were spending time to comprehend each other in a life altering way.
Once she began to doze off — I proceeded towards the bed and gently sat down as I contemplated the best way to slide into her the covers without waking her up.
The crying began again, but this time I was undeterred as we both lay side by side and she softly stopped fussing and stared at my fake attempt to fall asleep in her presence.
It’s all in the breathing. The up and down and the airiness of a peaceful slumber that’s grandly seductive.
She could hear the vibes and the comfort of it eventually led to her own version that sounded way better than mine.
She fell asleep to the music we created together without a beat master or a mixer or all the other stuff that is supposed to make everything sync perfectly.
It was an instant hit that can’t be replicated, because it’s just that special. It’s the auntie edition and it’s for family only.