Monday, November 21, 2011

Sleep Training

A few weeks ago we transitioned Johnny to a toddler bed.  This was against my wishes, as I had hoped to keep him confined to the crib at night for possibly the first five, er, seven, er, nine-odd years of his life.  It seemed like a safe and happy place for him to be.  Until it stopped being happy for him.  A couple of months ago, he stopped liking the crib.  And when I say "stopped liking," I mean "began to view the crib as his mortal enemy."  Short of punting him into it from across the room, we really couldn't get the spider monkey into the thing.  And if we did, the screaming ensued.  And not that kind of "Oh, just let him cry for five minutes and he'll stop," kind of screaming.  We'd had that before.  This took screaming to a whole new level.  Like, if he were a rock band, he'd be KISS and Manowar in the same small room.

So we tried a few things, mostly including the following: 1) fretting about it, 2) blaming each other, and 3) letting him sleep in our bed.

Finally, I suggested we take the rail off his bed and convert it to the toddler bed, even though I WAS NOT READY.  We didn't know what else to do, save someday letting a teenager sleep in our bed.  I saw no end to our situation.  Action was necessary.

And, miraculously, it worked.  He loved the "big boy bed" and immediately set to putting Elmo and Monkey to "night night" several times a day.  I determined that for a few nights one of us should stay in the room with him until he fell asleep, just to make sure he didn't get out of bed.  That worked just great, and after five minutes or so, we'd tiptoe out, and he'd be snoring.

We patted ourselves on the back, as we are wont to do.

Then I decided it was time for him to go to bed on his own, mostly because he went to my mom's for a weekend and she did it.  If she could do it, so could I.  And it worked for me several times.  More back patting.  It did not work for my husband, and I chalked it up to my superior parenting and crafty manipulation of his routine.

Last night, he did not want to go to bed for Daddy.  No amount of sitting in the chair and waiting for him to fall asleep would do the trick.  This is what I heard, at least.  I was sick as a dog on the couch in the basement, and was physically unable to go up there and intervene on my poor husband's behalf.  So, my husband caved, and put him in our bed, and I grunted a "Whatever," from my sick bed.  I was too exhausted from a day of meticulously expelling all fluids from my body to care.

Tonight, Daddy went out.  I took it as my cue to get things righted in the bed department.  I would show the both of them.  I'd show Daddy that it just takes a firm word and a kiss goodnight.  I'd show Johnny that Mama Means Business, but be loving and comforting all the while.  I AM GOOD AT THIS SHIT.

I started at 7:15 with three books.  Then I said "night night," and I patted him and kissed him and told him I loved him, and I headed out the door.  And he screamed.  I peeked my head in and said "night night" again - and he screamed and got out of bed.  So I tried the old chair routine.  For almost an hour.  More screaming.

I remembered the SuperNanny, and how she taught parents to wordlessly put their kids back in bed.  Hell, it was worth a shot.

I put him in bed, said goodnight with a kiss, and walked out the door.  He screamed and got out of bed.  Without a word, I went in, took his hand, and walked him back to bed.  Rinse and repeat at least seven times.

The last time, he stayed in bed.  And he cried.  But not just sobs.  He cried "Mama! MAMA!" for twenty five minutes.  I sat in the hall and wept.  But he went to sleep.

If this does not get easier tomorrow, I am resigning myself to the awkward scenario of having my teenage son in my bed, because I can't do it again.  He'll just get to sleep with me as long as he wants, and I will give up all semblance of rest, authority, and dignity.  IT WILL BE WORTH IT.


kallipalooza said...

If you had a Kindle Fire that 25 min would fly by. I did a lot of deep breathing sitting just outside her door during that time. Things aren't really all that much better 2 years later, by the way.

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