Is “Ferberizing” still a thing?
Thirty years ago, Dr. Richard Ferber wrote an influential book advising parents to let their baby “cry it out” for specified periods before offering comfort. I vividly recall an elegant dinner party where the guests all dutifully ignored the banshee screams upstairs, as well as the mortified parental faces downstairs.
I don’t know if Ferberizing actually works. Every time we tried to put newborn Eleanor in the crib, her sobs and shrieks were too heart-breaking to find out. Instead, every night of her first year, Eleanor fell asleep in Daddy’s or Papa’s arms.
Last year I read a memoir by my contemporary and doppeler Rob Lowe. Among the many things we have in common are a passion for fatherhood, including its bedtime rituals. Lowe writes movingly about how his older son always insisted his father tuck him in bed with dad’s special burrito-blanket fold – until the inevitable day when his son said he didn’t need to be in a burrito to sleep any more.
As I tucked my son in bed last night I felt just like Rob Lowe, or maybe like Winnie the Pooh contemplating Christopher Robin’s looming betrayal:
OLIVER: Papa, I think next year we’ll stop cuddling at bedtime.
PAPA: Next year? You mean on your birthday, or at New Years?
OLIVER: No, at the start of fifth grade. Well, maybe sixth grade.
PAPA: That sounds good – we’ll be ready by middle school.
OLIVER: Yes, seventh grade would be too late. Or high school. College would definitely be too late.
Long relieved pause
OLIVER: (Sleepily) Papa, how old do you have to be to drink alcohol?