Sunday, January 21, 2007

To sleep, perchance, this century

This third year (starting from say August on) has been a struggle. Food she used to eat without complaint sits untouched on her plate, her arms crossed tighter than even her lips are clenched. Baths, never an easy proposition, have become sideshows of trickery and deception, yet none too entertaining. But it is the sleep issue that may put us over the edge.

Since the new bed took up residence in our master bedroom, the idea of sleeping with us, starfish-style -- all spread out from the center -- has taken up residence in Ittybit’s head.

It all starts out good. We begin the bedtime routine: calming down, brushing of teeth, reading of books. Snuggled into her own bed, we give in to the extra story and the calls for water and lights dimmed only so low.

But the needs are endless. First its water, then juice then milk. She didn't really WANT any of these prohibited bedtime beverages; she wasn't hungry, she wasn't thirsty, she was merely stalling.
Eventually our routine got to be worthy of three rings:

PJs = check
Teeth brushed = check
Stories = read three, check
Lights dimmed = check
Monsters sprayed = check
One more story = check
I have to go to the potty = check
Music turned on = check
It's too dark = lights adjusted, check
I want a snack = goldfish procured, check
I want water = check
It's too cold = check
Now it's too hot = check
The monsters came back = spray again
I have to pee again = another trip to the potty, check
I need the hot water bottle ...


“O.K., mommy,” she agrees, sheepishly.


... Goodnight.

Truly, anyone with the least amount of time on the planet Earth can tell you what's happening here. It doesn't take Dr. Spock to figure it out.
She's testing us and we are failing.

In addition to this extended play of the bedtime routine, every night at midnight or so the monsters wake her up and send her into our room.

The seduction of sleep without the added cold shock of the hallway's hardwood floors makes letting her into bed an irresistible proposition. We tried it. At first she even fell right to sleep. But then, increasingly, she'd become restless. She'd poke and prod and play games.

No matter how cute it seems, no one wants to talk about the dietary needs of the Abominable Snowman at 4 in the morning, let alone having their eyelids raised manually by a restless preschooler.

The last straw was when she woke us four times one night, deciding to go back to her own bed twice.

"That's it! I need sleep. She's just playing now and it has to stop," I stammered as if my husband hadn't already reached this conclusion six weeks ago.

The next day we enacted operation LET’S NOT MAKE A DEAL.

Bath time at 7 (and she gets her hair washed when it needs to be) NO DEALS.

Bedtime starts at 8:30, she must brush her teeth, use the potty and change into pajamas. We read three to four books; she can have water and a hot water bottle and her music but she can not leave her room. NO DEALS.

As expected, the change was met with tears and tantrums.

By the time she fell asleep at 9:30 I was dreading the midnight call, which came early at 11:30 p.m.

I walked her back to bed but she had no intention of staying there, she claimed, with the monsters and dog effluvium.

The old me would have said 'who could blame her' but the new me said, "I'm sorry but that's the way it is, sugar plum. We all have to stay in our own rooms and sleep."
No sooner had I walked away than I could hear her little pajamaed feet following me, screaming as if I'd torn out her toenails.

I brought her back into her room and shut the door, holding it closed. She threw her little self against it and screamed. I imagine, had she been a little bit older, every second word out of her mouth would have been an obscenity. Eventually she calmed down and the bargaining commenced. She wanted the door open.

It seemed time for a new deal. The door would stay open as long as she stayed in her room.

We both went back to bed.

But all was not quiet in the western wing of the house.

She rolled her toys across the floor, tore her clothes from their place in the dresser and began yelling at the top of her lungs: YOU ARE MAKING ME VERY NERVOUS!!!!
When the ride-on-horse came rolling to our door I got up and investigated the damage.
It was less than I thought, but still impressive.

I put her back to bed, kissed her head and said: "That's enough for tonight. We'll talk about this tomorrow."

And with that, the sleep of exhaustion visited us.

It's been three days now and not one incident.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed and sleeping with one eye open.


Happy Tinfoil Cat said...

One effective measure to put a sleepy kid to bed is to make them hold perfectly still. No talking, no fidgeting, eyes closed. Three to five minutes and they are out.

MommasWorld said...

When my son was little we went through the same thing. It got me so worked up I wouldn’t go to bed until I knew he was asleep. One night I heard him coming down the stairs after I put him to bed. He wanted water and I said no, you had water just before you went to bed. Each request he made was denied but he kept coming down stairs to make new requests. He would always return to his room. There was a large gap between the last time he went upstairs and when I started to hear movement upstairs. This time I was going to wait by the wall next to the stairs. I was a little giddy from being so tired so I had tried hard to stifle my giggling. As he neared the bottom of the stair case I JUMPED out in front of him and YELLED **BOO**! I laughed until I noticed he was scared stiff and crying. I hold him close and say I am sorry. Then he tells me “Mommy I had a nightmare.” I felt like such a heel. Odd thing was that was the last of him bartering for more time after bed time.

The Mad Momma said...

with my second one coming the husband and i are trying desperately to get our 20 month old son to sleep through the night. getting him out of our room is a stage we haven't even reached yet. and we are failing miserably. i am going to wait and hope this story has a happy ending, else i am doomed.

lildb said...

this is the kind of situation that makes me glad I'm responsible enough to know that I can have a few glasses of wine and still parent well.

because damn, if I don't need a glass of wine after stuff like that happens.

yeah. I said need.