The Book Lesson_Hal Evan Caplan-Teachings of a Three Year Old.I learn many lessons from my three year old son. These lessons are not bound by time, day of the week or even subject matter...the lessons are just presented to me, by my teacher, when I least expect it. As usual, I don't "get it" during the lesson. That is why I am the student.
I've always been told to keep toddlers on a schedule, especially when putting them to bed. Since hearing this, we have been really good about his wind-down time prior to bed and keeping him on a schedule. Each night, once my Teacher is in bed, a story is read to him. When he falls asleep and the story is over, we leave the room.
On this particular night, it was my job to get him to bed. As usual, I carried out the sequence of events, the "pre-bed rituals" if you will, prior to him going to sleep. He had his snacks, water, medicine, bathroom stop, and he got rid of the "cavity-guys" (brushed his teeth) as he calls it.
The wind-down period seemed to be running smoothly and the pre-bed rituals were completed. I carried him up the stairs and he crawled into bed. Then, I covered him with his favorite blanket - Thomas the Train and I proceeded to read him a bedtime story.
In the middle of the story, my Teacher propped his head up, looked at me and said, "Ya know Dad..."
This was unusual for my Teacher since he goes 1000 miles an hour all day and once he is in bed, he normally would falls asleep hard and fast.
"...Okay, here's my deal to you." He started.
Uh oh, I thought to myself.
"What do you mean a deal?" I asked.
"I've got a great deal for you." He replied.
"Spill the beans", I expressed - hoping to confuse him by this statement and prompting him just lie back down. This of course did not work.
"Hurry up and flip more than one page at a time." He suggested.
"What do you mean?" I replied, not quite sure of what he was trying to saying.
"Go to the end of the book." He explained.
I skipped to the last page of the book, per his request.
"Now what?" I asked.
"Okay, now you are done." He declared.
Feeling a little confused and recalling that he wanted to make some sort of deal with me, my curiosity got the best of me, so I asked him about his deal.
"Yeah, I was just getting to that part." He replied.
"Oh-boy", I said.
"Let's get a different one." He suggested.
"A different one, what?" I asked, not really sure of where he was going with this.
"A different book", He replied.
"OOOkay." I said
I started to walk over towards the stack of books in his room in order to grab another one. In mid route, my Teacher yelled out.
"What?" I asked.
"Just STOP there", He said
"Let me get the book", he declared.
"Go ahead", I softly replied.
My Teacher jumped out of bed and raced over to the stack of books. Next, he flipped through several of them and found the one he wanted. I extended my hand expecting him to give me the book and then crawl back in to bed. Then I figured I would proceed to read to him. This did not happen. He actually sat on the floor in front of his bed. As usual, I was not privy to this, but a lesson was about to be presented to me.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Sitting on the floor", He replied.
"I know that you are sitting on the floor; I can see that, but it IS bedtime!" I demanded.
"Dad, don't get mad...just listen for a second, please", he expressed.
"I will listen, since you were nice about it, and said please." I explained. "Go on", I suggested.
"You need to lay down right here." He pointed to a spot on his bedroom floor, next to where he was sitting.
As I laid on the floor, I watched and listened as my Teacher prepared his book. My Teacher then turned through the pages and made up stories based on the pictures on the pages. He acted out some of the characters and made various sounds to represent things like birds flying, waterfalls and the wind blowing. He took this story time and his "reading" very seriously. After reading several "stories" to me, he announced he was tired and ready for bed.
For the second time, my Teacher climbed into bed and I tucked him in. Then, out of nowhere, he rolled over and looked at me as I was heading for door and said something that I pondered for some time that night.
"You see Dad, I was thinking...sometimes you don't always have to read to me because I can read bedtime stories to you. Sometimes, if you do the "same" all the time, it gets boring."
Then he rolled back over and closed his eyes. As I left his room, I thought to myself, that was really entertaining and it was okay for my Teacher to read me a bedtime story every once in a while. He was right. Doing the same thing in the same way does get boring.
In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: Don't be afraid of change. Sometimes it's refreshing to alter your normal routine.
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.
A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.
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