big boy bed bonanza
So day one - with only 2 gentle reminders our littlest loves were sound asleep. We smugly congratulated ourselves on being awesome parents of awesome kids and closed the door. We had visions of them playing quietly with each other and the few toys in their rooms when they woke up. At 4:45 the next morning we were startled awake by a huge thud, followed by a scream and another crash. Rushing down the hall we found both boys, room still dark, standing atop a mountain that they had created with the rocking chair, desk, lamp, book bin, toy box, dresser drawers, and most of the contents of their closets.
Lesson learned. Day 2 - Auntie struggled for nearly 2 hours to get them to take naps - a new system was then devised where Jack is put in his room first, then Alex is rocked to a comatose state before being put to bed. Doors are left open. That night we repeat the same routine - story, prayer, reminders to stay in bed... there are 6 reminders, each getting progressively more intense - still it's early days and we don't panic. The next morning we're greeted by a similar mountain in the middle of the room only this time the lamp is broken and the bottom is out on one of the drawers.
Day 3: The closet is rubber banded shut, the toys are removed from the room. Nono works for about an hour and a half to get them to sleep at nap time, we work equally long in the evening... sitting on the floor between their beds issuing reminders to lay down... but as the week progresses their boldness grows until now, they find it comical to reach a foot over the edge of the bed and tap it to the floor. As you turn to put one boy in bed, the other sprinted to the opposite corner to tangle themselves in the curtains. After nearly 2 hours they're asleep, but by 5 am their up again - they've closed the door instead of leaving the room, another drawer is broken and this time Jack has himself stranded atop the changing table - something he never did when he was in his crib, but now that he can get out of bed easily, he's decided the challenge of the climb is worth undertaking.
By Saturday I've had it. I know it's only 5 days, but I am so behind on work because I'm spending 3-4 hours a day trying to get them to sleep! It was suggested that maybe they don't need their naps anymore - but this seemed odd when just last week they took naps like champs - And I didn't want to give up. So as Tony worked I took on another job - the job of tiring those boys out so much that they would have no choice but to close their eyes and drift into oblivion at 1:00 pm. We walked, ran, splashed, dug, climbed... we painted and chalked, and then we ate our lunch. As I was changing their diapers before naps both boys were drifting off practically asleep as I cleaned their bottoms... they were exhausted! YES! I thought, I'd done it! I gently carried them upstairs and laid them in their beds. Jacks thumb went in his mouth, Alex started sucking on his fist. As they rolled over into a more comfortable position and then their eyes sprung open. The bolted upright- took in their surroundings and started giggling, and bouncing. It was like that damn bed hot-wired them or something. Shit.
I called down to the girls that I'd be up with the boys for a bit. They could play in the basement or read - I'd be down soon - or so we thought. As I sat between the two children that I am genetically wired to love unconditionally the most horrific thing happened. Those two babies - the ones that I wrote so frequently about their sweet tempered personalities - the very ones that had their praises sung for being great sleepers and easygoing - the very same ones turned on me. They apparently forgot that we had helped bring them into this world. That we nursed and nurtured, that we made them homemade organic freaking baby food, that we wiped their a double scribbles at 3 am. All of this was forgotten as they looked at each other, then looked at me and laughed.
They had a plan, and I didn't know what the heck it was. It was a game and no one gave me the rule book. I started by singing softly to them, tickling their backs and brushing their hair... they pretended to be on the verge of sleep. Occasionally issuing forth fake snoring noises. I then moved to the rocking chair and continued to hum. And here's where they little foot on floor tests started... and then who can run to the window... and who can bang their feet on the bed the loudest... and then break for the closet... and each time I said "Stay in bed", each time I threw a look, each time I reprimanded do you know that they did? They Laughed. They LAUGHED and LAUGHED. And as their laughter grew so did my fear... because What the Heck!?!? They're TWO! Not even! And if my two year olds aren't the slightest bit fearful of me, what chance do I have of them listening when they're 12, or 16, or GASP 18?!?!
And so I moved into the more taboo of parenting methods... I swatted their nose the next time I said no. HAhahahahaha! Then their bottoms... Tee-ta-hehehe! Then their thighs... GA-FAW!!!! It had now been over 2.5 hours. Two and a half hours that the girls were left unattended. Two and a half hours that was making my hallway look like a cheap garage sale - because each time they went to play with or grab something I wrenched it from their hands and plopped it in the hallway: Drawers, clothes, toys, books, rocking chair...the girls couldn't get to me if they wanted to. And then I snapped... like really snapped. I thought I had snapped 45 minutes earlier - but that was nothing compared to the freak fest that was about to be unleashed on these two. I went into psycho mode... that one where you only see red and until the subject before you shows at least one ounce of fear you are not satisfied... the one that has the sane part of your brain saying "whoa, whoa - settle down, you'll kill them". It's that part of your brain that keeps you from actually touching them, because if you did - you know it wouldn't end well... and so you bang the furniture so hard that your hand is numb while screaming in some voice you don't recognize. I was shaking I was so mad - and all the while Alex sat cross legged on his little bed, eyes wide like he's watching a movie - and Jack cowered in the corner of the room in apparent terror.
It was the look in his eye that had me easing up a bit but not before issuing one more terrifying rawer of "GET. IN. YOUR. BED. NOOOOOOWWWW!" And with that I slammed the door thinking - I don't give a cr@& if they sleep or not - I needed to get out of there. I picked my way through the yard sale to my bathroom (cleverly resisting the urge to heave every blessed thing against a wall), quivering, ashamed, angry, and terrified. I splashed water on my face and tried to calm myself down before going to see the girls - who were, no doubt, scared out of their minds downstairs. As I made my way downstairs I couldn't help but notice that their room was silent.
DAMN - WHY?!? WHY! Why do they always push you to the brink of psycho before they listen!?!? As I tucked the girls in for their now long overdue naps I reasoned with my (still shaking) self that I needed another system. Clearly the boys were feeding off of each other, but more than that, they were feeding off of me. Each reaction, good or bad, was egging them on. And so I realized what any good teacher or parent would have realized days before. I needed to get out of there. I had to remove myself from the situation - and the whole thing had to go military and clinical. And it was with this epiphany that we have now - finally - nearly three weeks later reduced bed time to no more than 5 minutes. It was 100% successful - We tuck them in, say our prayers (I add a silent one for patience) and then we leave the room. The POD (parent on duty) stays at the door and the second you hear a little foot on the floor the door swings open that child is scooped up, plopped in bed and the same phrase "Stay in bed" is said - with no eye contact - and you turn and leave the room. The most I've ever had to do this was 5 times. 5 times - 10 minutes. SO within the realm of normal. The boys are now able to, once again, put themselves to sleep... We have our nights back - but not the mornings... that's still a bit of a production, but as long as you're willing to wake up at 5 am, all major crisis there can be averted. And regardless of what the Katie in a blind rage will tell you - those boys are still pretty freaking cute...