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Terumah: Trusting Our Kids’ Self-Reliance

Mikhal Weiner
5 min readFeb 4, 2022

Since about mid-December, our toddler hasn’t been sleeping very well. At first, it was the jet-lag (we had traveled to Berlin over the winter recess), then he was missing his aunties (with whom he’d been hanging out on our travels), and then he just got used to Mama or Ima sitting by his bed until he fell asleep. For an hour. Every night. Then, once he got to sleep, he began to wake up once or twice a night, scared of something in his dreams.

Basically, what I’m saying is that this household could use a good night’s sleep, and it should happen sooner than later.

Last night, though, we tried something different. Instead of lying down on the rug by his crib and waiting for him to doze off (whilst answering the myriad questions only a toddler can think up, of course) we introduced a new routine. Actually, it’s a variation on the old routine—the one that had both him and us sleeping through the night until recently. This version was crafted by my wife to address his new concerns—noises, nightmares, and things that go bump in the night.

“Tonight we’re trying something new and special!” she said to him at dinner, over some mac n’ cheese. He looked up, interest piqued. “Tonight mama will stay with you for a little while, and then you’ll sing a song together.” A song! That’s his favorite thing. He chimed in right away with, “Maybe Whitney! Or Regina.” “Maybe,” we both said, “Sure.” My wife continued, “After you’re done singing mama will ask your magical dreamcatcher to watch over you all night long.”

This was my moment to shine in this little skit. I brought over the dreamcatcher we’d brought back from Mexico a few years ago and showed it to him. “This is a dream-guardian,” we explained. It’s there to watch out for you and make sure you only have beautiful dreams.”

Our little one seemed skeptical, but open to the idea. Later, during bedtime he chose for me to sing You Are My Sunshine (complete with guitar solo) and Locomotion (which is surprisingly lovely a cappella). Then we asked the dream guardian to do its thing. And I gave him a kiss and left.

Y’all, he fell asleep on his own.

My cousin will say I’m jinxing things by stating this here, but I will take an evening of actual rest, even if it’s just one. I…

Mikhal Weiner

Writer • Editor • Musician • Mama • Writing words for @bhg @healthmagazine @parentsmagazine @hey_alma @realsimple @thestartup_ @lilithmagazine