big boy bed bonanza

The time has come, their parents said, to talk of many tales, of boys and girls, and sleepy time, of beds without a rail... The memorial day weekend was hot, and we had cleaned up the remains of their crib drawers for the last time (or so we thought).  Spurred into action by Alex's twice daily death-defying leaps over the side of his crib, Tony and I thought it time to finally covert their cribs to day beds once and for all - and hopefully spare the neck of our youngest child in the process.  While the kiddos had a wee sleep over at Mimi and PopPops, Tony took apart the cribs, I cleaned the bedding, we vacuumed, dusted, and got the big boy room all ready for its big reveal on Monday evening.  This, we thought, was the last reminder of our baby boys as we tearfully closed the door on the two toddlers laying bright eyed in their new beds.  If we could only have imagined just how many times that door would be slammed over the next two weeks we would have savored that peaceful nostalgic moment a bit more.

That first night was a bit of a false start - albeit a pleasant sort of start.  We brought all four kiddos home, sleepy and tuckered out from a long weekend playing in sprinklers, pools, and sunshine.  They were cleaned up and in their jammies... the girls and I anxiously waited behind the boys as Tony opened the door to the big boy room, revealing it for the first time to it's new recipients.  The boys entered eagerly - doing wide eyed spins in the middle of their tiny room, trying to take it all in.  Jack tested his side out first, then Alex... up and down they climbed... bouncing... "bed!"  "Ack-y's Bed!"  "Buddies Bed!"  They tried cuddling together, then separate - and when we felt they had enough time to explore, we tucked them in, said our prayers, and told them ever so gently - in a firm tone - to stay in bed.  Big boys stay in their big boy beds.  The girls gave their not so little brothers a kiss and with that - we gently closed the door.
Now I realize that every parent in the history of ever has moved their child from a crib like structure to a bed like structure at some point in their little loves lives.  So my question is - where was the warning people?!?  Where was the notice?  The red flag, the parental camaraderie alarm?  Did we expect the boys to just lay their and go to sleep?  No we did not.  Did we think it would happen overnight?  Not a bit.  But would you think we were out of the scope of reason to say that it should be possible in say - oh -a month?!?  Because I sure as shooting did not expect to be pulling my hair out and going all psycho on their arses for nearly 20 days.  But that's basically what happened.  Here... let me paint a little picture for you...

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...
So Jack, Alex (Emma and Belle too)... I know one of your daughters will have twins and will one day call you up on their space phone in tears and want to know just how to keep their little ones in their space pods long enough so that they fall asleep.  And since I don't believe in torturing the unborn, please tell your girl, in no uncertain terms, that they should not, under any circumstance, remain in the room - get out of dodge and put yourself at the door night watchman style.  Remove the emotion - or run the risk of having your emotions get the better of  you.  Take back the night!  Your space children and your space emotions will thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Probably the more important but more subtle message here is "this too shall pass". And unfortunately it won't be the last time you go psycho on your kiddos! Welcome to the club!