I’ve Been Had…by a 2-year old

Happily Eating Her Churro at the Zoo

God help me. I just wrote a post about feeling like a big crumb in letting Fia Scream It Out last night. Explained in the post that on a playdate yesterday my mom friend told me that perhaps she was waking up so often because of an ear infection. I didn’t really pay heed. Then, lo and behold, after 90 minutes of screaming last night, I went into Fia’s room and she says “Ear hurts.” I nearly toppled over.

Okay, she is just over 2 years old.

She always says various body parts are hurting, so I’ll kiss them. Ear has never come up. (Somehow, even though she gets gobs of attention, she must still be wanting more with these constant “hurts.” Maybe because new baby is coming?) I knew she must be telling the truth. And my puzzle was rapidly coming together.

For background: as this mom and I were discussing the ear thing, Fia was loudly playing with another boy, jumping up and down on his bed. She wasn’t paying attention to us or what we were talking about. Or so I thought.

Our sleep conversation used the word “ear” once…maybe twice. The whole discussion was about 3 minutes long.

When the doc came in to examine her ear this afternoon, she points to the opposite one. I instantly had this sinking feeling, like, Oh no, she can’t be making this up, right? Right?

He looks in that ear. Declares it perfect. Looks in the other one. Perfect as well. I am almost in tears. I’m so G-d D-mn tired, I can’t believe I still have no solution to her sleep issues.

But get this: I now think my little busybody overheard our conversation and somehow used it in the night. I know, that’s giving a 25-month-old a lot of brain credit. But I think it’s true. I think she is my little master manipulator. I cringe to think about her teenage years. We will definitely have to move to New Zealand and become sheepherders. That way when she sneaks out her bedroom window, she’ll only have the sheep to party with.

I tell the doc everything. Bunny clock, going in at 5, 10, 15 minute increments, letting her cry for 90 mins. And, of course I have to disclose that we bring her into bed with us when we can’t take it anymore.

He told me that the bed thing is the kiss of death. And that she might scream for 4 hours. But that if I want to have her back on her schedule, I absolutely cannot bring her into bed with us. Especially now that we know nothing is wrong with her. He said it may take 3-5 nights. I have 6 nights before my c-section. So once again, we’re starting tonight and this time refusing to give in.

I took her to the zoo after the appointment. As she chased a peacock, she turned and said to me, “Mama, ear hurts. Kiss it.” I looked at her, started laughing and said, “Fia, your ear does not hurt.” She got this mischievous¬†grin on her face, laughed, and ran after the bird. I waddled after her. This girl is going to keep me on my toes. Always. She is trouble. Pure and simple. But I love her so. Now GO THE F-CK TO SLEEP!

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  1. by Berit Thorkelson

    On January 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    oh no. I was hoping for your sake it was the ear. Good luck in the next 3 to 5… she’s got to sleep through the night again at SOME point.

  2. by Cheryl

    On January 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    We had sleep issues when my daughter was 7-8 months old. It was AWFUL. She spent the whole night crying and finally I gave in (around 4:00am) and let her nurse to sleep and sit in my arms the rest of the night…and since I was paranoid about dropping her, I sat up with her. Anyway, we did crying it out the next night and we were all so tired that she only cried for an hour. Tonight will probably be rough but stick it out – Fia will be too sleepy to keep it up for too long. She may be grumpy, but keep your eye on the prize.
    Also – I do believe the manipulation. My 25 month old comes out with some crazy stuff that I know she overhears. We’re screwed, LOL!

  3. by Jennifer

    On January 19, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Have you tried “The No Cry Sleep Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley? Great book! Maybe your daughter said “ear hurt” because she screamed for so long that it actually did make her ear hurt, rather than screaming because her ear hurt??? Like my kids always feel like they have a raging fever after they’ve been screaming, but they don’t. Not sure, just an idea.

  4. by Common sense

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    If I’d been forced to scream for 90 minutes before anyone bothered to pay any attention to me, my ears would probably hurt, too.

    You haven’t been “had.” She’s not a liar or bad or a manipulator. She’s a baby. A baby who’s having trouble falling back to sleep by herself. A baby who knows that something is happening and everyone is excited and stressed out in the house, and even if she doesn’t really understand that a new baby’s coming and what that will mean to her, she gets the vibe in the house.

    You’re tired? Then go in there when she wakes up, pat her back, bring her a cup of water, sing her a lullaby, whatever it is she needs. Explain calmly and gently that its the middle of the night and everyone is sleeping. After a few nights, she’ll sleep through. And really, if she’s been sleeping through at that young age, thank your lucky stars and get over yourself.

  5. by Brooke W.

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I’m so glad we’re in the same boat together. It’ll only get worse. My daughter is about to turn three and she’s become an amazing liar. The only thing she can’t lie about well? When she’s got a poop diaper.

    “Are you stinky?”
    “No.”
    “Are you sure?”
    “No.”

  6. by Sasha

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    How sad that you let your child scream for 90 minutes. Have you not read the studies showing that this can cause BRAIN DAMAGE in children? How awful that your toddler feels that she has to LIE to you to get your attention.

    And the Mom who let her child cry until 4 am??? Really what kind of a person does that to an INFANT?

    You really should have to get a license to have kids.

  7. by Devon

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Nope, you definitely aren’t giving her too much credit. 2-year-olds are manipulative little buggers. They’re smart and calculating and know exactly how far to push to get what they want. I thought I had it rough with my daughter and a newborn….he’s so much worse, because he’s an absolute charmer.
    Anyway, don’t feel bad about letting her cry. I’ve always been anti-CIO because babies are crying for comfort and you can’t spoil an infant. But it changes around 12 or 18 months (you know with your kid…). They’re crying because they want their reward (you or your bed) and you most certainly CAN spoil a 2-year-old.
    It will work out. Even if it takes all 6 days between now and your c-section, just think of those 2-3 nights in the hospital where you can let your new baby sleep in the nursery (another thing I did with my second and not my first….because I knew better) and take care of yourself so you live to see another day of sleeping issues. ;-)

  8. by Leigh

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    We had both of our children perfectly trained to go to sleep in their room. We NEVER let them cry, scream,whine, whimper ect. We never felt it was fair. Our kids would get up in the middle of the night and winder in. That was perfectly fine with us. We are the only county that believes our children should sleep in different rooms. My pediatrician has always told us that kids (most) want to and should be allowed to sleep with their parents. There is nothing wrong with wanting your kids to sleep in their own room, however you must find a sutable replacement for you. A doll, a special treat, a star chart. Mostly what worked for us was strong routine, and an enticement to go to bed in their room. For my kids (even the 1yr old) its reading then rubbing backs. I have always let them get into bed in the middle of the night, I believe it builds trust between children and parents. If they are scared lonley ect why let them suffer? As for your 2 year old ” pulling a fast one” she is smart, they all are. They see, hear and emotionally feel everything. Best of luck to all!

  9. by Danielle

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Well, like the doc said, now you KNOW nothing is wrong with her. And now you can be at peace when you hear her screams. just think, one day, you WILL SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT!

  10. by Danielle

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    DUDE, if your daughter is anything like mine…you are in for an adventure when the baby comes! But, the good thing is, the adjustment does pass. My then 21-22 mo daughter pinched my newborn until she left marks while they were in the car seats! My baby daughter is now 8mo and things are pretty good and they are interacting and even…gasp…entertaining each other just a but…but my older daughter still has to try to take everything away from my younger daughter! It took 6 months to get my toddler daughter sleeping in her own room at night, because we didn’t want her waking up the baby…in the early morning, she would come to bed with us, and when we settled in for a good # of months, we let her cry it out and things went back to normal. Anyways, right now, I am in bliss because of how much they enjoy each other (and entertain each other), so it’s worth it!

  11. by Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Agreed, Jennifer. Sometimes little ones come up with what seems like a lie, but what’s really happening is that they don’t know how to express an abstract need like fear or loneliness or reassurance, etc. This little lady tried her age-appropriate communication method, crying, but no one responded, so she worked on finding words in her brand new vocabulary to try to express her need and came up with a phrase she’d heard earlier in the day, “Ear hurt.” Such a smart girl! That isn’t manipulative, it’s trying to communicate in a brand new language she’s just starting to grasp. And, for me, a little pallet in mama’s room where she can feel safe and secure in the midst of some big life changes (new baby on the way!) isn’t “the kiss of death”…it’s just the opposite. It’s the kiss of life, connection, and peace that comes from having needs met by the people we love. Can you imagine crying for an hour and a half and having your spouse think comforting you is “the kiss of death” because you might come to expect them to be there for you when you need them? Clearly this little lady has a good mama who takes her on playdates and to the zoo, etc, trying to meet her needs during the day, but it’s a shame she has a doctor who advises her not to meet them at night. I’d find a new doctor asap!

  12. by Lynn

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I am disappointed that you would publish the ladies bad language. She and you could have made her point without it.

  13. by JCMHawke

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Good luck on the sleep thing. Just in case the ear thing does continue there is a possiblity it is hurting. But don’t rule out manipulation because that is possible. The jaw and the ear share nerves. Tooth or jaw pain can manifest as ear pain.

  14. by Misty

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    My two year old son does the same thing, except he uses throwing up as his excuse. Almost every night about a half an hour before he gets put to bed he comes out of his room “needing to throw up in the toilet”. He has reflux, so some nights he really does need to. But on the other nights (I can usually tell which night it is) I give him some water and tell him that going to sleep will make him feel better. Fortunately that works for him. Of course during the day he also develops other peoples symptoms. During my pregnancy I had a lot of back pain, and whenever I would ask him to do something he would grab his back and say “No Mommy, Lukas back hurts” and go on with whatever he was doing. Cute? Yes. Frustrating? Definitely.

  15. by Truthful

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Hey Lynn, the “swearing” at the end is actually a quote of a book made for these particular situations. The “swear” words are even censored for people like you who might be bothered by it. In the story a child stays up a very long time, and the parent just wants them to pleeease go to sleep! It’s a story almost any parent can relate to, which I find a very valid reason for her to put it in her article. By the way, people who have reactions like yours in our society are the reasons why censorship is being pursued, we have our first amendment right “The Freedom of Speech” and I don’t think the author should consider changing anything in her article. The reason there are swear words are people who react like this to a word that they don’t like the sound of. How many people will you censor with a closed-mind and a dislike for some words? You do realize that though we communicate with them, these words, letters, grammar, punctuation, etc have all been made up by someone else and some letters together somehow offend you? Its okay if you don’t want to say words, but please don’t infringe on anyone’s 1st amendment rights!

    While I respect your right to say that it’s bad language, I just wanted to let you know, censorship is a fire that is started with a match, like in your comment.

  16. by Sofia

    On January 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Jump on this right away. Start asking your daughter questions about “what happens if I tell you something that isn’t true”. She is no way old enough to keep any “philosophical discussion” about lying in mind for any longer than the conversation itself. But it is really important to start the building blocks for what is ethical and what is not. Give her VERY concrete examples by telling her “untruths” such as, “It’s time for dinner now” when it is mid-morning, etc. The point is for her to begin to get a sense of what happens when you can not rely on what an important “other” is telling you. Ask her what happens next if you do this to her and keep the discussion going on an ongoing basis. I raised two children, who both have a strong sense of truthfullness. When they first start lying and manipulative behavior IS the right time to start talking about it. How does it make her feel? How does it make you feel? All the best on this & Good luck!

  17. by Aleta

    On January 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    My son has had on and off again issues with sleeping through the night. We’ve been told and I’ve noticed that it usually comes when he is going through a growth spurt and/or learning a new set of skills. Such as when he was learning to jump, he was up most of the night jumping around the room. After a week or two he’ll go back to sleeping all night.
    I also agree with Lynn about the language. I would have thought that a reputable site like this would be more professional.

  18. by Jaimie

    On January 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Lynn I don’t think the Author was swearing, I believe she was referencing a book entitled ‘Now Go The F-ck to Sleep’. You might want to go to Amazon and look it up.

  19. by melanie

    On January 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Have you ever had something hurt that no one could see or diagnose? I know I have. She very well may have pain that the Dr. And you are unable to see. It could be as simple as teething (which can cause ear pain) or growing pains. I think it is very damaging to a child to tell them how they are feeling. Only your child knows how she feels, just like only you know how you feel. She is crying because she NEEDS you. She’s not trying to manipulate you, she just needs her mommy right now. Too soon she will be all grown up and you will probably miss rocking an singing her back to sleep. Take the time now to treat her how you would want to be treated. They move into their own bed and own room when they are ready, without trauma or heartache for anyone. Trust your own heart.

  20. by Jill Cordes

    On January 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Loved all your comments. And I am so happy to say that the SIO (scream it out) method is working. We’re up to about 4 nights now, each one getting better of her briefly waking up, standing for a second and letting out a cry, then putting herself to sleep. It’s creeping up to almost 7 a.m.!! This is life changing. Gotta make sure while I”m in the hospital for the new baby this week that my inlaws abide by our schedule/routine with her, as I know there are a lot of transitions for her little 25 month old self. Dont’ want to negate all the progress we’ve made.

    Oh, and disclaimer: the “Go the f–k to sleep” line is hyperlinked to the best selling book that recently came out of that title. You can click on it to see what I’m referring to. It’s not just me swearing for no reason. I figured everyone knew of the book, but maybe not. Sometimes jokes don’t work in blogs. Oh well.

  21. by Niki

    On January 22, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    When my 4.5 year old son was 2 his answer to everything was No-one might have called this disobeying or lying as the situation determined. However within about six months we learned he was actually saying “I don’t know”. Wow so glad I didn’t take to punishing him for that.
    Now I’m on to our third. She’s almost 2. Can’t imagine thinking she knew how to lie or manipulate at all. ( my 8 year old yes-but she’s just doing what all humans do-whatever she has to to get what she wants. Us adults just learn smoother ways of manipulating-our children bosses spouses family members etc).

    I have the experience of three very calm
    Confident and happy children who never had to cry it out. I brestfed co-slept and carried them with me and on me. I’m not some granola momma. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve had my own tantrum.

    Just remember to breath. This is your baby girl you prayed for. The baby you excitedly told everyone you were carrying. She is a precious child and deserves nothing but love and adoration. I always remember how I felt when my parents did…..whatever I’m thinking of doing.

    Hope that helps. Good luck. Just breath and remember why YOU brought her into this world.

  22. by KAREN LAWSON

    On January 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Please, please PLEASE read a book called the Science of PARENTING…. it will solve all of your issues in a heart beat. It will teach you all about your babies developing brains. It should be the ONE AND ONLY thing you get in that stupid baby bag at the hospital let me tell you! If I win lotto i’d spend the money on giving as many new mums as I could this book!!! I have NOTHING to do with the book by the way…. just a mum that read a trillion books and as soon as I got to this one I threw all the rest in the bin. It’s a god send!!!

  23. by Maya Rubin

    On January 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    We have had sleeping issues with our 24 month old for the past two months. At first, I made the mistake of letting her sleep in my bed. It was an easy solution when my husband was out of town for a week, but we paid for it when he came home. Sara refused to sleep in her crib. We tried everything including buying her a “princess” bed, but nothing helped. Finally, we let her cry it out. Each night got a little easier. Last night Sara went to bed with no crying and slept through the night until 5:30am. I’m waiting to see how tonight goes.
    It was so hard for me to let her cry, but I am glad I did it. She is so much happier during the day after a good night sleep and so do I.

  24. by Fred

    On February 15, 2012 at 7:50 am

    She will sleep 24/7 when she is a teenager!!

  25. by Naranja

    On February 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Oh great. Now you know exactly there is nothing wrong with her health and really who cares what this child FEEL and what she is WORRIED about and what SCARES her? What right does she have to bother her parents with that issues? They checked her health allright, she must be thankful! How dare she need more from her poor tired parents? LEt her cry and whimp for hours, that is really just OK with her – unthankful little manipulative monster!
    Sooner or later she will understand that nobody is interested in her feelings and fears and she’ll sleep all night. Great result!