Addy used to be such a great sleeper. She took two naps a day until she was two. She'd always comply with bedtime and then drop right off, to sleep- nary a peep from her room once the door was closed, even if people came over or I was vacuuming two rooms away. Sometimes she'd announce on her own when she was sleepy before it was even bedtime, grab her blankie and trot off to bed, leaving us shaking our heads and thinking how LUCKY we were. (It almost made up for the fact that three nights out of four, she was eating a pb and j for dinner after an hour of futile attempts to shovel vegetables and proteins down her throat.)
But lo, it is no longer so. She is not napping reliably whatsoever, not even with the bribes of the portable DVD player in her room to let Dora soothe her off to sleep. She won't even accept the idea of a quiet time, and if I lock the child gate on her door to force her to play in there, she just stands and yells for me until a, I am yelling right back or b, her brother has been woken from HIS nap, which... is the end of the world, essentially.
But the real horror isn't even naptime. I mean, she is close to four years old. I am resignedly aware of the fact that she just might not generally NEED a rest time anymore, even if her mama still does. No, the real horror is bedtime, when she is popping up out of bed about every ten minutes from eight thirty to ten thirty every night with various urgent problems requiring our help. The requests are creative, I gotta give her that. It's never the same one twice: she needs the potty, a drink of water, a drink of milk, a snack, a hug, an episode of Blue's Clues, another story, a Hello Kitty band-aid, to kiss Fonzie good night, to call Aunt Rachel, to go the playground, to go to WORK, to snuggle with Mama, etc.
I know it's a normal kid thing, inventing excuses to stay up if you don't feel tired the second your head hits the pillow. But by about the third time I've walked her back to bed, I can feel myself starting to Lose. It. I just want to go get something done without kid-interruptions for the first time all day, but no! The interruptions just keep coming, except that they're MORE frustrating because they involve retucking her into bed a kazillion times. I've said that I'm not doing the whole tucking and kissing routine after the second time, but I keep slipping up and doing it anyways because otherwise she stands there and wails with increasing urgency, "But MOM! But MOM! I need KISS! I need TUCK!" and not only does the guilt slay me, but also, if she wakes Eli up: end of the world, as aforementioned.
Tonight was really bad. I think she got up about ten times before I seriously lost it. I heard my voice mid-rant and it was really not pleasant. Thankfully, she didn't seem wounded by my fury or the low, snarly quality of my tone; alarmed perhaps, because she did at least STAY in bed that time (so far,) but not teary eyed and shocked by the sudden appearance of Mean Mommy.
I was wounded, though. I hate turning into that Mom, the one hissing at her kids in a voice just as mean and threatening as she can make it, trying to control their behavior by scaring or shocking them or hurting their feelings. I mean, a little shock value is ok. But I never want my kids to feel afraid of ME. Afraid of the consequences of bad behavior, sure (Losing Blue's Clue's for the day! Oh the horrors!) but not afraid of me, personally.
Also, it's a tricky situation to navigate, the bedtime misdemeanors, when your usual discipline is a time out. In this case, a time out would still be getting to stay UP longer, so I think it's slightly inappropriate. Is it just all about consistency, just sending her back, or taking her back, to bed over and over and OVER until eventually she gives up? Or is there some trick I'm missing?
Also, don't you just hate it when the last thing you've said (growled) to your kid for the night is, "Get BACK in bed and STAY there! I do not want to see you up again, young lady!" What a crappy feeling.