After it became wildly known that I was becoming a father a few years ago people begin to give me lots of advice. The advice varied wildly and on more than one occasion one person’s advice would contradict another person’s advice. Needless to say with all of this information being thrown at me I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and all together nervous.
Nevertheless one piece of advice rose above all, and came to me many times over. That advice was; ‘When your baby refuses to sleep, and your wife is at her wits end it is your job to plop him into his car seat and drive all over the city until he is asleep.‘ At the same time I was hearing this from people whom I knew and trusted, McDonalds launched an ad campaign with two new dads being out late driving their baby’s to sleep.
I had the wisdom of the people I trusted on the one hand and media conformation on the other. I was sold, and I was ready to jump into action when I was needed. Plus the idea of picking up a 3am ‘I’m a good dad hamburger’ appealed to me.
After our son was born it didn’t take long before an opportunity to shine presented himself. It was one of those days where Simeon just wouldn’t sleep. He didn’t nap during the day, and he wouldn’t sleep at night. He was living off of 10 minute power naps in-between hours of awake time.
I don’t know why he decided sleep was for the weak but he did. The funny thing about it was he wasn’t cranky. He was just a happy, babbling baby who refused to sleep. So finally at 1:30am I jumped into action. I tossed on a bum around t-shirt, my track pants, grabbed my car keys, and I plopped Simeon into his car seat. We got buckled in, and drove away.
As I pulled out of the parking garage I was already planning on picking up my ‘good dad hamburger’ and I was feeling pretty satisfied in myself. As I pulled onto the road Simeon started to fuss. After a few minutes in the car he went from being awake but happy to crying steadily. This was all part of the process I assured myself.
As I pointed the car towards the highway so we could get away from the streetlights Simeon’s crying started to pick up. As I drove down the highway he began to shriek and screaming. He wasn’t just sad anymore he sounded down right mad. I barrelled down the highway hoping that the process would take hold. But as the first exit came into sight and the noise of Simeon’s crying continued to grow I pulled off and found a parking lot.
My poor boy was beat red and a ball of sweaty rage. He calmed down within a few minutes and went back to being happy and awake. I returned home with a still awake baby, and I did not eat a ‘good dad hamburger’.
My wife and I now have three children. 2 of them fall asleep in the car on almost every drive that lasts longer than five minutes. Over these past 4.5 years I have learned an important lesson. Even the best of parenting advice is not as a guarantee. It is best view as the kind of advice dentists give about toothpaste. 4 out of 5 dentists may recommend Crest toothpaste, and in my house 2 out of 3 kids recommend taking drives to help fall sleep.
Christopher Drew is the pastor at Sackville Baptist Church. He is the father for three and the husband of one. He is a self professed geek and gamer. Read more about family, faith, and geekery at http://ModernManOfTheCloth.com