I may have mentioned before that my daughter Avery is not the world’s best sleeper. A night owl like her brother, she is hard to settle and tends to have more energy than we’d like much later than you might imagine. Often we are lying in bed sighing and frustrated while Avery continues to bounce around, chatter away and expend her seemingly limitless energy. It’s not much fun. In fact, it flat-out sucks. Sometimes it seems like the more tired we are the less tired she is. Last night was one of those nights. I have no idea what time she finally crashed. I had been so tired that I placed a massive pillow between us as a barricade (she has been known to kick me in the face) and fell asleep in spite of her antics. I do know it was sometime after 1:00 A.M. Totally ridiculous for a not-even-two-year-old girl.
She woke suddenly at 5:30 A.M. and started screaming, demanding “row row,” her solution to everything. Chris assumed the position: flat on his back, he placed her on his stomach and started rowing her. Usually this works… it takes her to some zen place only she understands, and she often falls back asleep pretty much in mid-row. Chris then lowers her head to his chest and peace is restored once more. Last night, though, nothing was working. Chris was rowing, but he wasn’t singing “Row Row” so she started screaming all over again. Then he sang, which worked for awhile, but then she started to fuss again. He rowed, he sang. He rowed, I sang. Finally Avery demanded her “boat.” In my semi-conscious haze I saw Chris start to get up. Oh, no. No freaking way. Her “boat” is her infant car seat. She likes to nap in it, which is fine, but it resides in our living room. Chris by this point had been rowing and we’d both been singing trying to settle her for about 45 minutes. It was almost 6:30 A.M. The way I saw it, if Chris brought her to her boat he’d be setting a dangerous, unwanted precedent. I could imagine it all too easily… both of us taking turns rocking Avery in her boat all night long. She was screaming hysterically by then, her worst night in recent memory. She seemed too far gone to be rational. That was okay, so was I.
I dragged her out of bed and off to “her” room, or what I hope will be her room someday. Her crib (the one she never slept in) is in there, and Chris recently removed the side to turn it into a toddler bed of sorts. Avery likes to play in it. While I wasn’t eager to have her associate it with punishment, I was exhausted and well and truly done with her drama. I put her in the crib and told her she could return to our bed – and to her Daddy – when she calmed down, and not before then. She screamed, I stared her down. She screamed some more. I reminded her that when she was ready to calm down she could go back to bed. She calmed down… eventually, so I carried her back to bed. She tried to demand “row row” again, and I told her if she didn’t lay her head on the pillow and go to sleep I would carry her back to her bed. She started to scream, so I picked her up and headed in that direction. She stopped screaming by the time I had reached the living room. I asked if she was ready to put her head on the pillow and get some sleep, without screaming. She said yes. This time I was able to put her back in bed without incident, and she went right to sleep. It took me awhile, but I finally fell asleep too. I slept soundly until 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon. I had been awake with her for about an hour and a half.
I’m still calling it a victory. I made it clear to Avery that there would be no middle-of-the-night boat rides. Even more important, I made it obvious that her screaming wouldn’t change my mind, ever. No matter what. Parenting. Good grief.