Posts Tagged ‘ sleep training ’

You Know You’ve Had a Bad Week When…

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

1. You wake up at 2 a.m., not to your baby crying (for once) but to your cat having diarrhea on your beloved sheepskin rug.

2. You grab your Christmas decorations out of the closet, only to have a dead rat fall out as well (explains mystery smell from 2 weeks ago and reminds you of your mother’s Rehab Tour 2007).

3. You find a black widow hanging out on the drain pipe right next to where your kids play. Cue Dr. Death. At least you get to smirk at your husband who said NO to pest control a year ago.

4. Your husband goes to London for work. He gets invited to the World Premiere of Les Miserables. He is even photographed by the paparazzi (dude on the left). You are at home putting your 10-month-old to sleep. Your 3-year-old is already asleep. You are thinking about how lucky you are to finally have a quiet house. You are looking forward to that much deserved glass of wine. You rock the baby one last time and nuzzle into him, when suddenly he barfs in your face.

Yes folks, this was my week. The Failure Hour is in full force. If you don’t have one in your neighborhood, start one. It’s called survival.

Okay, your turn.

 

Picture of woman losing her mind via Shutterstock

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Dear Fia, You Are Three…

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

 

Dear Fia,

I want to share the first half of this Winnie-the-Pooh poem by  A.A. Milne:

When I was One, I had just begun.

When I was Two, I was nearly new.

When I was Three, I was hardly me….

They say three years old is one of the most magical years of childhood. I can believe it. You are gushing with creativity, curiosity and imagination. You are forming into a little person. Yet, the world is still so big. You know your space in it, but you don’t know how vast that space is. You know you’re loved, but not how much. You know you’re safe, but not from what. It is magical for me too. I want bottles with each year of your life in it. Someday when I’m old and gray I can open up your three-year-old bottle and breathe you back into me.

It is hard to fathom three years have passed since that snowy day at Columbia Presbyterian. In some ways it seems like you’ve been with me forever. In other ways, it’s like you are this gift that I’ve only just begun to know. Both are delightful scenarios because while the feeling in my heart is timeless, I get to keep on loving you for years and years to come.

I said to you the other day, “You’re my sunshine.” You looked right back at me, shook your head and said ever-so-earnestly, “No Mama. I’m your daughter.”

You charm me (and maybe manipulate??) in a way no one else can. When I put you in your crib for a nap or bedtime, hug you many times, and walk away, you always stand up and say, “Mama, hug!” as if I hadn’t yet. But I always have more hugs for you. “Hold you tight,” you say, squeezing me as hard as you can. Then, “One nice kiss.” You kiss my cheek. Lately, in keeping me there with more manipulation, you say, “I love you soooooo much.” And hug me even tighter. I don’t want to let go either. Like I said, I need a bottle…

When I finally get you to lie down, the tickling begins.

“Tickle my forehead.”

We started the “tickling” about 6 months ago. Now it seems to expand weekly to every body part. Last night it went like this:

“Tickle my back.” (shirt raised, butt in air). Okay, done.

“Tickle my stomach” (roll over, lift shirt up). I had a slight hangnail.

“Mama, your nail is sharp.”

“I know, so no more tickling. Night night.”

“No Mama, go cut your nail,” you order, pointing to the clippers and emery board on the dresser. Huh? How did you…? Oh, never mind. Just do what she says. I do. Tickling resumes.

“Tickle my knees.”

“Really Fia?”

“Yes Mama,” you reply, as if this wasn’t becoming a tad ridiculous. You pull up your pajama pants and I tickle each knee.

“Okay honey, goodnight.”

“No Mama, what about my elbows?”

Seriously?

But even if I’m exhausted, I never tire of this routine. That’s because someday, when you are a teenager, (with a STRICT curfew), I will yearn for these days. Another mom who has a 16- and 18-year-old told me, “As exhausted as you are now getting them to sleep and waking up at 6 a.m., it’s a lot better than waiting up for them to come home. Trust me.” I do.

The mere thought of it breaks my heart. So when I’m really desperate for you to go to sleep, I channel my new mantra: How lucky I am to have this and not be staring at the clock, hoping you are okay.

At three, you also delight in letting us know if we forgot something. The other day you and I went on our thrice-weekly grocery run.

“I need to get baby food.”

“Oh-O-o-kkay!” you say, brimming with enthusiasm. “I-I-I will pick it out.”

We shopped for all sorts of things. We pay and are in the parking lot when you start giggling and announce with glee, “Mama, you forgot the baby food! Silly Mama!”

You were right. And strategic in making sure we already left before you called me on it. “Logical Consequences,” as my father would say. We head back in, and you continue to repeat “Silly Mama!”

The old adage, “Would you rather be right or happy” may apply to you someday. But for now, you are both right and happy.

Woe to the person who shuts your door all the way. (Which by the way, began when your favorite TV show made you afraid of the dark.) One time I had it almost shut and the air conditioning blew it the rest of the way. From the wailing I heard, I thought your crib had collapsed. I ran in and found you sobbing. “Mama, you aren’t supposed to shut the door!” Tears were streaming down your little face and once again I was reminded what my love for you does. It takes me to my knees. Not because you will be scarred for life from this, but just seeing you so genuinely upset (and feeling betrayed) tugs so deeply at my heartstrings. To anyone else this scenario may sound absurdly dramatic, but feelings aren’t facts. However, they are real.

Since then, I have paid the price. Not a day goes by without this:

“Mama, you need to leave the door open this much, not this much. This much,” you say, as if you’re explaining and demonstrating with your little hands for the first time. Sometimes you insist on getting out of your crib and showing me, just to make sure I really am not an ape.

“Fia, I know honey.”

“But Mama, you left it open.”

“Fia, that was months ago.”

“Mama forgot! Silly Mama.” And we’re back to the glee in being right. Nothing will slip past you, my girl.

You are so articulate. It doesn’t hurt that you have a screenwriter for a father. But still, you understand the meanings of big words. After Wayne–our transexual cat–freaks out batting around a tennis ball, you’ll shout, “Wayne is cantankerous! And feisty!” (Apparently the cat takes after his mom). When Emmett hurls himself into a wall you’ll yell, “Mama! Emmett is being rambunctious!”

I keep saying it can’t get better than this. But apparently it does. Right now you are three and you walk with me. But what I hope for most of all is this, from Winnie-the-Pooh:

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

 

 

 

 

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Fia’s Angry Words (Does She Think We Yell at Her?)

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

I was in my office this afternoon and Fia came in “to play.” Usually that entails trying to type on my computer, or getting out markers, pulling a Post-It note, and attempting to color on it. You can imagine where that leads: to bright purple all over my desk. I told her I was working and needed a few minutes of quiet if she could find something to do.

She wandered over to this statue thing of a woman and began talking to it. I was thrilled to see her play on her own. She doesn’t do it much and it was so cute. At first.

“Hi baby,” she said. “You need a nap.” She pretended to cover it/her with an imaginary blanket.

“You need a pacifier. I will get you one,” and so on. I was just sitting there smiling, thoroughly enjoying the moment. But then, her tone turned and I must say I was a bit shocked. She began screaming and really railing on the non-baby statue:

“Stop standing up in your crib!” she screamed.

“I am going to shut the door!!!”

“You get a time out!”

“I’m going to zip up the crib tent!”

I got up and went to her. “Fia, you don’t need to shout like that. Why are you doing that?” “Because the baby was bad,” she said. Huh? What?

Okay, what she shouted are all things we say–not shout– to get her to go to sleep. It’s a song and dance like many parents experience. But we never ever yell. Neither does Cleo. I’m around all the time and I hear how it goes.

We are firm, but never mean. I’ll say in a totally regular voice, “Fia, lie down. Fia, I said lie down.” She’ll look at me and grin. Sometimes I get down on her at face level, grin with her, touch noses, and we both laugh. It’s kind of our little “thing.” Then I say, “Okay honey, I’m going to have to take your pacifier away if you don’t go to sleep.” I usually gesture as if I’m about to pull it, then she concedes, lies down and I tickle her forehead.

Sometimes she’ll be standing in her crib and won’t lie down and I walk towards the door, like I’m leaving. “No mama! Tickle my forehead!”

“Then lie down,” I say, sternly. She does and I tickle.

We get about 3 sleep encores a night like this before she really goes down. I’m really never even frustrated by it. I figure this is just par for the course.

Also, in terms of time outs, I’m not just saying this because I’m her mom: Really, she’s only had about 3-5 of them in her life. I’m not a lax parent. She’s just a really good kid. She follows rules, likes order and routine, and is just an affectionate, goofy, fun-loving girl. She doesn’t misbehave much. Rarely tantrums. Something like the nighttime routine described above would never warrant a time out. She has to do something really wrong to get one. And she just doesn’t.

So what is up with her imitating us in such an angry way? It broke my heart to hear her shout like that. Is this a normal toddler thing or does she think we really yell? What is her perception of us? Of herself? That she’s a bad girl? Or am I overthinking all this? Please parents, help me on this one. I don’t want to lose sleep over it. It’s weighing on me.

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Why I Hate My Toddler’s Favorite TV Show

Monday, October 29th, 2012

You know what pisses me off? Television for my kids. Okay, I’ll admit it. Fia hasn’t learned to spell or read only from us. We read books every night, but what has really taught her is Sesame Street and Super Why. Both PBS shows (please don’t take away Big Bird if–god forbid–you get elected Romney).

But what these shows, particularly Super Why, has also taught her is to fear–of the dark, of shadows, of monsters. These are things she never even contemplated before. She has always slept in a pitch-black room, with one small nightlight. But ever since an episode of Super Why where the little girl was scared in the night, Fia has insisted we keep her closet light on and her door slightly open. The latter has meant she can hear Emmett cry and subsequently she wakes up. But that’s not nearly as frustrating as watching her become afraid.

Her recent fascination with shadows is at times fun and playful (and annoying when you decide on a stupid whim to have her sleep in bed with you), but other times it’s steeped in fear. “Mama, look at that shadow!” she’ll whine. “It’s S-C-A-R-Y!”

Spiders are another one. In the past she loved to look at them. Now she screams, “Mama, a spider!” and runs the other way. Even spider webs, which used to fascinate, have her freaked.

I don’t want to totally bash TV because I am fully aware of the tradeoff. She has learned a ton from it. But producers, do you have to frighten in your themes? Learning is fun for them. Being scared isn’t.

If we never taught our children to fear the dark or spiders, would they grow up not afraid? Or is this something that eventually happens by being a member of society anyway? In other words, am I kidding myself to think I could have avoided her arachnophobia if she hadn’t seen those episodes? I’m not sure. I know she never learned the word “mine” and toy-grabbing until she hung out with kids who did that. But how did those kids learn? Was it just inherent in their personalities and thus this is just part of life? Or did they learn it from someone who learned it from something, and so on?

Of course when it’s appropriate, she’ll learn stranger danger (we should probably start on that soon), the basics of safety and eventually the staggering problems of the world. But during the tender age of toddlerhood I could stand her being left in the dark a bit longer. Without a light on.

 

Afraid of Dark Picture via Shutterstock

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Why I Can’t Sleep With My Toddler

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

The other night Phil was out of town. I was having one of those cravings for Fia… you know, like the kind when you want to eat your child, yet you know you’ll never have enough of them to get full? It’s that insatiable feeling of mom-love. I decided to have her sleep in bed with me. I envisioned spooning her all night and getting some sort of tangible fullness. Uh-huh.

9:30 pm–in bed reading my book. Fia lifting legs in the air. “What are you doing honey?” “Making shadows Mama. Look!”

“It is two hours past your bedtime. That’s it.”

Book closed. Lights out. Fia puts hands in air. She swings her arms back and forth. I bark, “No more shadows!” I’m officially annoyed at my decision to have her sleep with me. Plus, I had to shut off my Kindle during a riveting reading moment.

11:00 p.m.—a foot is in my mouth.

12:30 a.m.—I am eating Big Bird.

1:00 a.m.—Emmett starts to cry. I hear him through the monitor. I sneak into his room to pacify. Pitter-patter. In come little feet. “Fia, go back to bed,” I whisper.

This is important for two reasons. First—it’s one o’clock in the f-cking morning. But second, Em is so sensitive to noise that if she starts talking, he’ll jerk up and start giggling. Yes, my baby laughs too much. I realize there are worse problems to have…but in the middle of the night, all issues seem insurmountable.

I get Em back in his crib, Fia back in my bed. I threaten that I’m putting her back in her crib. But I know she’ll wail. I can’t take the “you get to sleep with mommy tonight” back.  I can feel Ferber shaking his head…

3:00 a.m.—an ankle on my ear. A thigh on my stomach. I am in a bad game of Twister and I’m losing.

4:00 a.m.–Wayne pounces on the bed and yowls. I curse myself.  How did I forget about the stupid cat? Fia bolts up in bed. “Mama, Wayne is here!” Yep, didn’t know that. Thanks.

I get up, grab the 18-pound load of fur and sequester him downstairs.

5:30 a.m.—Em wakes up. This time he’s hungry. I sneak in again. Put him on the boob. Pretty soon her little shadow appears, then her little body. I have to whisper again, “Get back in bed. Shhh. Shhh.” Emmett pulls off the boob to look. It’s his big sister! Cue the giggling. I tell her to just lie quietly on the carpet in front of me so Em can’t see her.  She does. And puts her legs in the air. Yep, the shadow game is back.

6:00 a.m.—Em is sleeping. So is Fia. I am wide-awake. The sun is rising and I can feel the bags pulling down on my face.

I didn’t get one cuddle. I am not full. But at this point, I don’t care. I just want my bed back.

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