Sunday, December 28, 2008

Calling Rip Van Winkle

My 2-1/2 year old daughter has a mortal enemy who goes by the name of Sleep, nicknamed Bedtime. It is still the hope of her mother and I that she manages to get a decent nap and a full night’s rest each day. We’ve done ample reading on how critical sleep is to the development of a young child’s mind, and have seen much evidence of how important it is to pleasantness of mood. Since we both work, our daughter (who I'll call Queen Diva from here on out) is in fulltime daycare Monday through Friday and naptime is out of our hands. Often she naps there for about an hour, and far too frequently she doesn’t nap at all. On rare occasion she’s out for a good two hours, which is about the best we can hope for. Our naptime hopes are a little more ambitious on weekends when responsibility shifts back to us, but the results are not greatly improved. Queen Diva pseudo-regularly gives us about an hour and a half to ourselves at midday, a period during which remarkably little can be accomplished. Just as we’re nearing a state somewhere in the vicinity of relaxation, we hear her enthusiastic battle cry – I’m Awake! Double duty is shared with her daycare provider regarding daytime naps, but when it comes to putting Queen Diva to sleep for the night the ball is entirely in our court. We have heard fantastical rumors of toddlers who go down without a fight. We’ve even been witnesses to this seemingly miraculous event and marveled at the good fortune of those parents. When it comes to our own little one however, to quote the dapper Michael Buffer - “Let’s get ready to rumbleeeeeeeee.” My wife and I have come up with every strategy under the sun. Sometimes several days in a row go by when the struggle is less than epic and we foolishly believe we’re on to something. Then our good luck streak cruelly ends and it is back to the drawing board. Evenings can be quite stressful as result. We do our best to be patient, maintaining calmness of demeanor and consistency of habit, creating a sense of security while also promoting independence because when it comes to going to sleep, no one can do it for our daughter but herself. But more often than not, no matter how tired she appears to be (ironically the more exhausted she is the more hyper her behavior), Queen Diva is not ready to fall asleep until she’s ready to fall asleep. Since she is inevitably put to bed (crib to be precise because the attempt to switch her to a bed, even though it was a pink Disney princess model, failed miserably) earlier than her body declares itself prepared for slumber, we are treated to a symphony of complaint and distress. Yet we remain optimists, for what choice do we have? Our silver lining is that unlike the naps that sometimes never come, at night even though she tries to drag it out indefinitely, eventually she will succumb. When silence finally arrives we declare that tomorrow she’ll get enough exercise during the day to wear down her endlessly energetic self. Tomorrow a good daytime nap will translate to trouble free bedtime at night. Tomorrow she won’t be able to trick us into a false alarm bathroom run. Tomorrow that “cry it out” theory will actually work. Tomorrow she’ll decide that resisting sleep with all her might is simply not worth the hassle. But you won’t find me putting any money on tomorrow looking much different than today. The day after that is anyone's guess. ------

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    1. I love how you conduct your posts, some of the stuff I read I already knew, but other I didn't. I susbscribed to you through RSS to keep track of your latest updates.