Thursday, March 27, 2008


My daughter has an ever evolving system of sleep evasion. I could equate her behavior to antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Violet will allow weeks or months to go by without fussing about sleepy times, naps and all. Then, she will embark on an anti-sleep campaign lasting an equal number of weeks or months. I am constantly readjusting my strategy on making the child unconscious for an acceptable amount of time. When she was a newborn, she had to sleep with us. As an infant, she had to be nursed to sleep. Once she moved to her own bed, one of us had to stand sentry outside her door until she fell asleep. As time went on this became more complicated and it was essential that we be only partially visible. Later, she required visibility, but we had to be studiously disinterested in her or she would attempt to engage us in lovey conversation. I read entire books sitting in the doorway of her room. Now, she is out of diapers and my desire to keep her bed dry has caused to me break Rule # 1 of the bedtime handbook; responding to her phony cries. I am at once proud of her observational skills and infuriated by her manipulations. Violet's latest game goes as follows:

1. She will behave herself so beautifully during the crucial to-nap-or-not-to-nap time window, that I will allow her to stay up for the duration of the day.
2. Violet wears so much of her dinner, that an immediate change of wardrobe is required. At this hour of the day, it seems logical to me that these fresh clothes be pajamas. There is a protest, and I assure her that she is hours away from bedtime.
3. It is now approximately 2 hours too early for bed and my child is playing at putting herself to sleep. There is always a trigger for this. Tonight, it was putting the Tinkerbell sheets on her bed. The night before it was a change of blankets. The clean sheets are given a test run and Violet feels a pang of fatigue as she "pretends" to go to bed.
4. I entice my child back out of the bed with the promise of many books read aloud. Four stories later, she is crawling back into her bed. It is barely 6PM.
5. Around 8PM, refreshed from her evening nap, Violet is ready to party. I spend the next two hours taking her to the bathroom and returning her to her bed. Forcing her to nap in the early afternoon produces virtually the same result, except with more toothbrushing resistance.
6. I collapse into bed well after 10 and wake up every hour trying to distinguish Violet cries from the cat's whining.

Part of the problem is my absolute determination to keep her sheets clean. I have a perfect record of dry nights since the diapers came off. My lizard brain knows that if I ignore one "MOMMEEEEEEE", Violet's bedding will be awash in urine. Every time I imagine the wet bed, I am reminded of waking up at a childhood sleepover, soaked in my host's warm pee (said host continued to sleep peacefully and the next morning acted as if nothing happened). My vigilance now, will ensure that Violet does not became known as the "stinky-pee girl" of her elementary school.

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