27 June 2005

Just Go To Bed!

That's the title of a Little Critter book that I've read to Katrina so many times I practically have it memorized. Little Critter is playing: "I'm a cowboy! I can lasso anything!" when his father rudely interrupts to get him ready for bed. At every stage, Little Critter is in his "let's pretend" world and resents that his dad keeps moving him along. In the bath, he's a sea monster, but then he has to get out of the bath. He's a zookeeper while he has a snack, feeding his stuffed animals...until his dad has the gall to tell him to put on his pajamas. Little Critter increases tempo, flitting from one thing to another, until finally his dad loses patience and says "Just go to bed!"

We're living that exact scenario right now. Except in the book, Little Critter goes to sleep peacefully at the end. Not quite what's been happening here. After an exhausting hour and half to two hours of bathing, teeth brushing, book reading, singing, and back rubbing (often punctuated by a tantrum if things aren't exactly right or if we assert some authority to get her moving), we go through numerous "curtain calls."

"Mamaaaaa! Mamaaaa! I have to go pottyyyyyy!" Last night she went potty twice in 10 minutes. And if she can't "go" once she's there, she wants to sit there until she can force something out. That's fun, too.

"My foot's coming out!" That's a crisis, you know...she puts her foot over the side of the toddler bed and then gets upset because the sheet has fallen off it.

"I don't have enough roooooooom!" This is a nightly lament, usually while we're trying to settle her down before we leave the room. Now, I would take that as a sign that she needs to move from the small toddler bed to a normal single bed, except she said exactly the same thing when she slept in the large single bed that came with our temporary furniture. Of course, some nights she has 4 or 5 stuffed animals plus BeBe, her security blanket, in the bed with her. But if I suggest that some of the animals can sleep on the floor beside her bed, she exclaims "Noooooo!" with such horror in her voice that you would think I threatened to cut them up or something.

We realize that she's still settling in and that her room doesn't yet feel like home to her, but this nightly struggle to sleep is really wearing on both Jon and I. Especially since she has been a really good sleeper since she turned 1.

We also suspect that it stems from napping during the day. Again, she's been a great napper since she started the toddler stage, and I hate to give up that hour and a half to two hours of quiet time. But now, the longer she naps, the later she stays up at night. One night we said "good night" and left her room around nine, and she just played in her room until 10. She still gets sleepy at midday and will sleep, but unlike when she was younger, we pay for the nap later at bedtime.

Today she did not take a nap. She was nodding off in the car as we drove back from having lunch with Jon at the base, but she perked up as soon as she got out of the car. We went through the whole naptime ritual, but she just talked to herself in her room for 15 minutes and then came looking for me. So now we're having "quiet time" in the family room...a DVD for her, the computer for me. It's just too hot out to do the playground in midafternoon.

Quiet time for her means dancing and singing along to the songs on the DVD, though. Oh, well. Maybe she'll get to sleep before 9:30 tonight. Hope springs eternal.

Update: Well, she was totally out by 8:45 pm, the earliest in a long time. But it was at a cost of her crying for me (after I left her with Jon to go to German class)/having a tantrum for over an hour--and being awfully whiny the rest of the time. So she definitely still needs some sort of nap to be civilized; maybe we just need to move it to earlier in the day or wake her if it gets too late. Sometimes parenting is an awful lot like putting a puzzle together, except that you don't know for sure what the puzzle is supposed to look like.


LaShaunda said...

Hi Jennifer,

I would pay for an 8:45 bedtime. During school time, I put the kids in bed by 8:30. If I'm lucky they're asleep by ten. My youngest is an owl, he'll stay up as late as you let him.

They have every excuse to get out of the bed. My favorites, "what are you doing Mama? I came down to tell you I love you and to get a hug."

Jennifer said...

Hi, Lashaunda,

Aw, that's too cute. I can see you both smiling and grinding your teeth at the same time. "I love you, too, sweetie...now it's time to go to sleep!"