Monday, May 01, 2006

In Which We Push the Envelope

You've been advised of our adventures in getting "Angel" to sleep at all. Now welcome to our adventures in getting her to sleep like a normal person.

We've been advised, and we believe, that it is good for children to learn as early as possible to fall asleep with nobody else in the room. Some of you who have experience with toddlers may have been chuckling to yourselves at our naivety in laying down with her to get her to sleep, foreseeing that we would be stuck doing that for a long time.

Not so. We were and are mindful that there may be things that have happened to this child that would give any sane person (and she has proven to us that she is very, very sane) good reason to be very afraid of the dark, especially in a strange place. Therefore, we gave her a special dispensation on the whole sleeping alone thing, in favor of just getting her into a regular sleep routine of any kind.

Last night began her initiation in to the final version of how bedtime will be going for her for as long as she lives here, or at least for a few years. That would be early changing into bed clothes, watching a movie or playing, brushing teeth, a little more playing, peepee and then storytime, after which Mom or Dad (whoever's doing story time) will say prayers with her, hug and kiss her, turn out the light, and curl up in a fearful fetal position hoping for the best walk out of the room and shut the door.

Last night she screamed for over an hour, with admirable volume and tone. One of her finer performances, I'd have to say. The lows, the high notes, the nice touch of desperation, the whole works. If I'd detected fear there, I would have broken (probably rightly), but it was very self-evident that this was anger and defiance. I don't respond well to either one from a child, and neither of us responded at all to this virtuoso performance except to listen with awe as a girl yet to experience her fourth birthday party gave a demonstration of lung power that neither of us would be able to match.

When she was done and it seemed she must be asleep, I looked in on her to see if I needed to straighten anything up or put her in bed for the night. She had put herself in her bed when she was done...I couldn't believe she had landed in such a normal position after all that. Well.

It left me with a tinge of anticipation for what I'd get to hear tonight. I figured she was just getting warmed up. Apparently, I was wrong.

Oh, there was screaming tonight...but only about 5 or 10 minutes of it. At that point The Wife looked at me with speculation in her eyes and mentioned that she didn't believe "Angel" had had her normal chance tonight to go peepee. I thought about it. If some big oaf put me in a bed and my bladder was stretched, I'd probably let somebody know about it in no uncertain terms too, even if I had different agenda in mind besides that one.

So, I went into the screaming child's room, and she immediately quieted to sniffles...but she was still on her bed. I know she had gotten out at one point because I heard it, but she was back in bed now and looking pitiful.

"Sweetheart, do you have to go peepee?"

"Yeah. [sniffle]"

"Okay, "Angel", I'll make you a deal. I will let you go peepee now, but when you're done, we're going to have to come back in here, and I will kiss you goodnight again, and then you'll have to go to sleep. Do we have a deal?"

"Okay, daddy. [sniffle]"

And that is how it worked out. I waited until she was clearly done and beginning to think about screwing around with the stuff in the bathtub next to the stool, reminded her that she needed to clean up, walked her back to her bedroom, put her in bed, gave her a hug and kiss, told her I loved her, and left the room, closing the door behind me.

I listened. Silence. I listened some more. Silence some more. I went out into the living room where The Wife, "Josie" and her friend were watching a movie in order to brag about my child-rearing prowess. Nobody seemed to care much about my mastery of the four-year-old psyche. Must be a good movie.

So I'm bragging to you. And I don't care if you don't care. It's my blog.




At 8:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL!! Good Job! Definatly worth a pat on the back, no matter what movie it was.... :-)

At 4:38 AM , Anonymous Nicole said...

Congratulations on a job well done!! You are being VERY successful with her and I hope it continues.

At 10:26 AM , Blogger Garrent said...

Wonderful job! You deserve all the kudos you can get! By the way, is her finger turning blue from having you wrapped around it so tightly? ;o)

At 2:30 PM , Blogger Tamara said...

Heck yeah, I'm impressed - AND taking notes. I'm sure my time is coming.


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