Monday, February 6, 2012

Knitting the ravelled sleeve

Chloë's been having a hard time with sleep lately. She's been very clingy in general, and at naptime or bedtime she firstly doesn't want to go to bed at all, and secondly wants one more story, one more song, one more hug; and then it's "Mama I want hoo; I want hoo, Daddy!" and screaming (which inevitably leads to a request for a tissue, which we can't in conscience refuse) unless we handle it very, very carefully.

So we have been, in the hopes that she wouldn't disturb Maia (who's doing much better; the teeth haven't erupted, but they're very close) and that she'd get over whatever insecurity was causing it. Saturday night I spent more time in her bed than in mine. But it hasn't been helping, and she's been getting shorter and shorter of sleep because she just won't settle down on time and has started waking multiple times a night and earlier in the mornings.

So we agreed we needed to start toughening up again and if possible getting her to bed earlier. Yesterday at naptime I was trying to get her down first, since she'd woken at 6:15 and Maia at 8. We read a couple of stories, and then I tucked her in and told her to sleep well. "I want a song," she objected.

"One song," I said, and sat down with Maia in my arms, and sang her Dowa Do Hah Day, which is how she pronounces "Polly wolly doodle all the day."

I stood up and told her to have a good nap, and she started crying. "I want another song!"

"I already sang you a song," I said firmly. "Now it's time to sleep." But she dissolved into a screaming mess: "I want you Mama! I want another song! I want another story! I want--"

I put my face down to hers and yelled, "No!"

"I want a tissue!" she yelled back, startled.

I gave her the tissue, told her to sleep well a final time, and then left amid her screams. But by the time I'd gotten settled with Maia in the glider, she was quiet. She stayed quiet for the twenty minutes it took to get Maia nursed, changed, and in bed. When I left Maia's room I went into Chloë's to make sure she hadn't choked to death on her own tears. She was lying there, awake but quiet. "Are you okay?" I asked.

"Yes," she said.

"Okay. I love you," I told her, and gave her a kiss. She was silent as I walked out. Maia was still murmuring to herself, so I sat up a while before venturing to try to nap myself. Chloë didn't talk herself to sleep, as she normally does these days, but she was asleep when I checked on her again. I worried about the silence. It was what I wanted, but I was afraid I'd broken her heart.

But, as all the parents reading this must already know, she was fine when she got up from her nap, and she started up with the "I want you Mama"s again almost right away. At bedtime, she clung to me tearfully until I promised I'd come in and tell her Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which I introduced about a week ago and have had to tell every night since, and even then was reluctant to go with Eric to get her teeth brushed, even with the new Dora toothpaste. (It's pink. The SpongeBob sample stuff we got from the dentist was turquoise. This is the only reason I can find for preferring SpongeBob.) When I put Maia to bed and went in to her, I laid down rules beforehand: "I will tell you Goldilocks and sing you one song, and then you're going to be ready for sleep with no crying." I've tried this before and she's wheedled and carried on anyway, but this time she didn't argue when I said good-night, even though she's got a cold and was snuffly and obviously uncomfortable.

I made sure she was as cleared out as possible and gooped up with Vaseline and armed with a handkerchief, and then when she woke up extra snuffly around midnight I made Eric bring in some hot water to try to create some steam and rubbed some Vicks on her neck; but I didn't stay, and she didn't try to insist. I don't like that the authoritarian your-feelings-don't-matter route worked better than trying to be patient and considerate, but I guess authoritarian is what a two-year-old needs. Here's hoping she sleeps better with her boundaries re-established.

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