One of the most “traumatic” experiences I had as an infant occurred when I was eight months old. I was living in Jersey City at the time with my mom and father, and we visited my grandparents and great-great grandmother in Brooklyn (my future home). My grandmother- Diane- had bought me a portable crib, which I did not like. In fact, in Jersey, I would cry when I was put in it, and my father- Tony- took me out of the crib and I slept in my parents’ bed.
On this particular day in New York, Grandma Diane proclaimed that my bed time was to be at 7:00PM, and I was put in the crib in her bedroom, while my family was having fun (I thought) in the dining room. You see, I remember that day in full clarity, even though I was less than a year old.
Allow me to describe my perceptions and feelings. So let’s rewind to October 1977.
I remember the vastness of that crib, the white immovable bars, the fact that I couldn’t jump out of it, and I thought my family forgot about me. I wasn’t even tired, and I wanted to be with them, to watch them, and to feel like one of them. I felt out of place, and imprisoned, a prisoner.
So I cried. And when no one came, I cried and screamed louder and louder. Eventually, my great-grandmother- Grandma Ida- came and took me out. As an infant, I didn’t see her as warm as my grandfather (Poppy) or parents- she was more like an authority figure because of her white hair, glasses, scowl, and dress.
So she put my on my high-chair on the kitchen table, gave me an apple, and I was smiling even though I still had tears rolling down my cheeks, and my face was red. I was happy.
In later years, I was able to confirm the adult’s point of view: it was all Grandma Diane’s idea to put me to sleep, and the other family members tried to be as quiet as they could. Once they realized I wouldn’t fall asleep and I was protesting, they retrieved me.
Psychological text books said that parents should let babies cry themselves to sleep, and never cave in. But that day I was glad they didn’t go by the book.