Wednesday, November 7, 2012

To Sleep Purchance to Dream -- Not a Chance

The toddler bed is slowing killing me: Part I

We moved into a new house back in August and with that switched James to a “big boy bed” – WOOHOO!   This wasn’t necessarily a transition I was excited about.  Eddie and I were among the lucky select few parents that had a child who slept through the night early on and James had grown to love his little crib with all its coziness and security.  On occasion he would ask to get in his crib and just chill for a bit.  He would play in his crib for a good 30 minutes after he woke up, giving me an “adjustment period” to pry my eyelids open (or on a good day shower and dress).  

But over the summer James started using his crib railing as a hand-grip and the crib mattress as a trampoline (as all wild animals will eventually do). So, we decided that when we moved into our new house we would transform James’ room into a big boy room, bed and all (except for the changing table—potty training is still a work in progress but I will save that misadventure for another day).  


The first week or so went rather smoothly.  James fell asleep just like he did before and didn’t seem to realize the infinite freedom to roam the new bed granted him. 
A few nights later my parents came over to visit and asked how James was adjusting to his new surroundings.  Little did they know they had just lit the fuse to the biggest what-the-hell-just-happened bomb I’ve experienced since the first time James pooped in the tub during bath-time.  (To save what little pride I now have left and to save James quite a bit of humiliation, I will refrain from ever expanding upon that story).  I can’t fully blame my parents though, because it was actually when I answered, “He’s doing great!  BLAH BLAH, My child is awesome, BLAH. He goes right to sleep just like before,” that the what-the-hell-just-happened bomb exploded.  It exploded right in my face, right before my eyes.  I realized what I had done as soon as the words escaped and while I tried like hell to backtrack and shovel those words back into my mouth the damage had been done and the jinx gremlins pounced. 

That next night, our bedtime wars ensued.  When I say bedtime wars think native uprising.  Each night James changes his attack strategy so we never know what to expect.  He started small:  Getting out of bed, pulling books of the shelf and putting them in bed with him to “read”.  Whatever, right?

 Well, a few nights later he upped the ante by opening his bedroom door and trying to sneak out.  He learned this strategy doesn’t work very well in an older home with hardwood floors that creak every few steps.  I stood at the bottom of the stairs and watched from afar as the door slowly opened and a single eye peeked out, then a round face followed by a head that first looked to the right, then to the left.  He disappeared back into his room for a brief second then the door swung open and he crept out holding is stuffed frog, Mr. Pickles.  He was smart enough to close the door behind him with the hope that no one would notice he and Mr. Pickles had escaped.  About 4 steps down the hall he saw me and ran back into his room and crawled in his bed.  I may have won the battle that night but the war raged on and the rebelling only worsened. 

Some nights while I’m brushing my teeth or folding laundry James will mysteriously appear at my side –
“I not tired Mommy.” Dammit…how did he pass the creak obstacle?
 “James, it’s late buddy.  Did you try to close your eyes?” 
 “Ummm…I want juice.”
“I can get you some water.”
“I WANT JUUUUUICE!!!” (Translation:  You’re going down lady.)

I go downstairs burned but not defeated.  I pour some water in a cup add a drop of Mio water flavoring and tell him it’s juice. He accepts the water as juice but then makes other numerous requests:  Read a book, sing, brush teeth, turn the light on, read another book, sing more, count all the stars in the sky, take him to Vegas, review the stock market crash of 1921, teach him Mandarin Chinese…

Brushing his teeth is the only thing this child enjoys about going to bed.

Good with going to bed....

Still good about going to bed....

One of his favorite moves is to ask to sleep in “mommy’s bed” or “daddy’s bed”.  We always reject the request thus ending all peace negotiations for the night.  A long series of shrill screams, tear-soaked cheeks and cries for the “other” parent (the one that had not denied the request that particular night) then ensues. 
Not so happy about going to bed anymore....

He has demanded, “Daddy, get on airplane” on a couple of occasions.  Most likely because he knows I’m the most tired of the 3 of us and with Eddie gone it he can work me down and seize victory at last.

There was somewhat of a lull in the dreaded bedtime drama when Eddie allowed him to carry one toy to bed with him.  This worked well until one night when he decided to abuse this privilege.

He thought I wouldn't realize that he used his beanbag and blanket to cover up the 50
 other toys he tried to smuggle in bed.

So I asked him where James was going to sleep...

And this was his response.

So we compromised.

It’s been a few months now since the war began and I am sad to say that we’ve been defeated.  We allow James to carry multiple toys to bed, we attached a night light to his bed and showed him how to cut it on and off so that he can read the stack of books that he also piles into bed, I have sung Jesus loves me 50 times in a row, Eddie has read him more books in one week than the average person reads in their entire life – ANYTHING to keep in him in that freaking toddler bed.

Mickey Mouse...

So OVER Mickey Mouse.

I know, I know – don’t give in.  It’s parenting 101.  But the kid's got my stubbornness and Eddie’s bargaining skills.  Throw those two traits on a toddler that should have gone to bed an hour ago and see what you get--trust me, parenting 101 get's tossed right out the window.  These bedtime battles wear us down, the ups and downs, the guessing what he will say or do tonight.  It’s absolutely exhausting.  I’m absolutely exhausted.  Some nights giving in is our only chance for survival.  


 We were hardcore with the crib.  James never slept in the room with us.  When he would voice his disapproval of being put to bed, we stood our ground and didn’t go back (except on a rare occasion).  It was easy for us.  James was basically trapped so the only choice he had was admit to defeat, lie down and go the sleep.  I’m starting to think James was actually using all that time in his crib to plan his rebellion.   

To Be Continued…