Monday, January 12, 2009

And then she went to jail

Working back from tonight to my last post, most nights have been like this one. 2-3 hours of bed time routine with a defiant and hyper two year old. Tonight feels like things have reached an apex of frustration. I pounded a beer with dinner - yes, that's saying something. After countless trips back to FiG's room to put her back in bed, sing more songs, turn the nightlight off and then on again, I decided that enough was enough and I put the crib rail back on her bed. Sometime last fall, out of sheer frustration that she wouldn't go to sleep, we took the crib rail off thinking that being in a toddler bed would somehow make her grow up enough to go to sleep. She was close to climbing out of the crib too, but that wasn't the deciding factor. What did we know? We're only the degree holders in the house. So far she hasn't figured out that she can get out of it yet. And I'm officially letting her cry it out. Again. (For those of you wondering, A-Mo is dutifully dispensing with the 6" of snow we got today.)

It's been rough the last few months - as far as parenting goes. But it's been really bad since just after Christmas...roughly a week after FiG turned two. That's a big part of why I haven't been blogging. I thank my loyal readers for sticking with me through such an extended dry spell. It's 9:15 pm and she just stopped screaming. We started bedtime at 6:30pm. Not only has there been no time, I've been trying to find something to share that isn't about my toddler spawn of a child. But it's time to share - aren't you lucky? I'm not looking for pity....but some stories of other toddler spawn would be great.

Here's the download....she fights bedtime no matter how early we start, how soothing we make it, how stern we are. She turns into Super Toddler at the mere mention of pajamas or bed or stories or bath. Some nights we just have to wait for her to fall over or walk into a doorway and hit her head before she'll go to sleep. Benedryl doesn't seem to have an effect one way or another. Everything that used to work doesn't: warm milk, bath, massage, sings, music, humidifier noise, letting her cry. She still naps well though she's better at school than at home.

I instituted a time out chair right before Christmas. It worked for a while...and still does occasionally. But for the most part she asks for a time out so she can get out of her bed. Mostly we're using it when she hits one of us - correction - me. Most of my discipline efforts are funny to her. My mom voice, my mom look, my mom silence - hilarious. Spanking - ha! Yes, I'm admitting to you Internet that I have spanked my child. Once I even did it on her bare butt and you know what she did? She said, "More?" Slayed me.

A-Mo has only marginally more success than I do. His dad voice is booming and makes me want to sit up straight. I used to catch myself sitting down when he would use that voice on the dog. But FiG has no fear and no respect for either of us. Though she doesn't like it when we ignore her and it makes her really mad when we take time outs for ourselves. It's all about her audience.

For all the trouble we're having with sleeping, at least she's eating well these days. She likes asparagus. That was a pleasant surprise at Christmas dinner. Kid won't eat mashed potatoes, but she'll eat asparagus. Oakie doakie.

Christmas was great. My parents drove out here and we had a very nice visit. Friends joined our table for dinner. The place was decorated - I know! Crazy! FiG didn't get into her gifts as much as she did the boxes and ripped tissue paper. Once all of that was cleaned up she realized that she had some pretty fun stuff to play with. It was fun to watch her find her new favorite stuffed animal....every time she opened one.

You know, she's terribly cute. She makes us laugh out loud. She makes us giggle quietly from the other room. She makes us love in new ways. But we have never known this kind of frustration before. Sure, we've had to give ourselves time outs in the past....but not every week...every day. We're not alone. We know that most parents go through all of this and some even more. And we know we're lucky to be complaining about not getting enough sleep and a kid who laughs when we try to correct her behavior. There are far worse things to have to deal with. Far worse.

OK. I'm done. That last thought was what I needed to let this go and take a deep breath. It's all about my perspective. I think I'll go check on my little jail bird.


a-mo said...

It's weird to see her in a crib. Really weird. I liked thinking that she was independent enough to not need to be confined. Bummer.

AmyL said...

This is hilarious, only because I can relate (I'm laughing WITH you!). And yes, I've been known to swat my two-year-old's bottom too! One technique we're trying when we lay Cooper down is to try to reassure him he's not missing out on anything. So when we lay him down we repeatedly say, "Cooper lay down and go night-night, baby lay down and go night-night, mama lay down and go night-night, papa lay down and go night-night, kitty lay down and go night-night. It's night-night time and everyone lay down and go night-night." It sounds kooky and is mind-numbing to say, but it's worked for us so far.

E said...

Sorry to hear of your bedtime troubles. We've struggled with that with L. One technique we've tried, if you haven't yet, is to be as boring as possible when getting her back to bed. No eye contact, no dialogue, no kiss goodnight. Just escort (or carry) back to bed as many times as it takes. The theory is that the toddler is getting up for attention. If you give none, then getting up is just boring. You may have already tried this, but if not, it really works. I admit it was hard not to be emotional - either loving or angry - and react to the constant pop-outs, but when L didn't get ANY reaction, she stopped trying to see us as much. There are still pop-outs, but not as many. Good luck!