A drop in the bucket

Milestones are popping up around here like gophers these days: Isaac claps his hands! Rowan got his first barbershop haircut! (I wasn’t sure that would fly but apparently he got to watch Go, Diego Go while sitting in the special kids’ chair, and now he has oddly perfect little bangs. Much better than my last attempt in the bathtub, which nearly took out an eye, prompting said visit to the barber.) Isaac says “Mama”! Rowan went to the dentist — no cavities! Isaac uses a sippy cup! We’re even getting some sleep: after fits and starts and the latest round of illnesses, both boys are — more or less, all being well, ptuh, ptuh! — sleeping through the night.

(Pause for a moment while we consider the gravity of that last statement. It’s been two nights now. First, Isaac finally started sleeping through, just in time for a Rowan to get a cough and begin waking up multiple times. Rachel and I ended up trading off nights on the couch so that one of us could sleep while the other settled Rowan without — and this was the kicker — climbing into bed with him. Just as Rowan was starting to improve, Isaac got the cough, plus another tooth, and began waking up again. And so it went. Of course, just as they both began to sleep again, I got the stomach flu. But I digress.)

And Rowan has stopped drooling.

For upwards of three years, Rowan has drooled. For a long time, it was age appropriate. Then it was mostly kind of gross, in that benignly gross way that little kids just are, with all their various leaky bits needing constant wiping up and mopping off. There he’d be, talking away exuberantly, a steady stream of saliva dripping off his bottom lip. Or engrossed in a story, the drip drip drip of the leaky faucet of his mouth soaking the front of his shirt. Did other three-year-olds still drool constantly? Somehow, I couldn’t quite bring myself to ask around.

How do you teach your child to stop drooling? I took a page from the “Tell them what they can do, and not what they can’t” book of parenting, and got on him, trying to catch him just as the drop began to form on his lower lip: “Rowan, swallow your spit. Swallow your spit.” He got the hang of it fairly quickly, managing about half the time to catch the saliva before it dropped. This went on for a few weeks.

And then, all of a sudden, I noticed the absence of drool. Like the absence of the background noise of a dripping tap. In the way he seems to do so many new things — slow lead-up, seemingly sudden mastery — he got it. One more thing — check. Done. A million more to go.

Don’t get me wrong — the sleep thing is big. I wouldn’t trade a good night’s sleep for Rowan's dry shirt front any day. But then again, I don’t have to, do I?