Friday, January 9, 2009

Late Night Shenanigans

Ever wonder how many times someone can repeat the same sentence, over and over, until you're broken?

I don't. Not anymore.

Because last night, for an agonizing three hours (according to my husband, I lost all track of space and time) I heard the phrase "I wanna go down-tares." Over, and over, and over again.

It started out like it always does, well at least like it has the last three nights. Liam goes to bed fine, out like a light before we can even leave the room. He sleeps peacefully until around 12:30am, and then we hear his sweet whimper coming from the door outside his room. He's standing there calling for mommy, waiting for a response.

Nate usually springs out of bed first. But that does no good, Liam was clear on this, he wanted mommy. I drag myself out of bed, and begin the hopeful negotiation.

"I wanna go down-tares," he'll say.

"Now Liam," I will always respond. "Do you remember what mommy and daddy said? We said that when you wake up in the night, and it's still night-night time, you have to go back to bed."

I'm going to clarify for you, that response does not work. It is a desperate attempt, on my part, to diffuse a situation before it becomes a tantrum. But, the moment the words escape my lips, it's all over. The tantrum begins, and there is no going back.

This is the point where, on previous occasions, I give in. It's late, I'm only half awake, and I know that if we go downstairs and watch five minutes of whatever on TV, Liam will willingly go back to bed. This is the easy way out, in the moment. But you can guess what happens over time. It becomes a habit. Clearly.

So last night, I dug my heels in the ground. We were not going downstairs. I didn't care what it took.

I tried some cool negotiations before the tantrum really revved up. I used that often called-upon line noted above. I tried to reason. I tried to be stern. But it didn't work. So, I put Liam in bed (if you can call it that, he'd popped back up again before I could straighten myself out), and took my spot on the floor, in front of the door. I turned off the light, and did not respond to the repeated cry, the desperate attempt to go downstairs.

When the cry started to lull, I started to throw in alternatives, "Liam, if you get in bed right now, we can read the hide-and-seek book."

"No, that's dangerous," he cried.

"How about the Llama Llama book?"

"That's dangerous, too."

"Oh My, Oh My Dinosaurs?"

Sniff, "dangerous."

And the repeated demand that we make our way downstairs resumed. I hung my head, and stayed silent through it again. For a while. And then I tried my tactics again, "Hey Liam, how about if we go fill up your elephant (his humidifier) together."

"OK, dat sounds like a greeeat idea," he responded, finally distracted from his incessant request.

"OK, we'll go fill up your elephant, and when we get back, we'll get back in bed and go night-night!" I chimed in.

"NO!" The word molded into a cry as, you guessed it, "I wanna go down-tares," followed.

Again, I rested my head against the back of the door and waited, patiently. At one point, I asked Liam if he'd bring a blanket over for mommy, because I was cold. He suggested that there are blankets downstairs (that kid is too smart for his own good).

I asked him to set a good example for Quin by going back to bed. Didn't work.

I told him Grandma and Grandpa sure would be happy if he went back to bed. Didn't work.

I told him I would be so proud if he went back to bed. Didn't work.

I tried to tell him that Monkey (his favorite stuffed animal) was talking to me, and told me he was tired and wanted to go back to bed. And, shockingly, that didn't work either.

Finally, I suggested we get a toy out of his closet that he could play with in bed. He thought that was a great idea, as well, and we went to his closet. Unfortunately, none of the previously boxed up toys in the closet did it for him either, except for a small red wagon resting on a shelf which, of course, he insisted he take downstairs.

At this point, I gave up. Time to tag in another player. It was Daddy's turn. I crawled into bed and listened over the monitor as Daddy tried many of the same ploys I did. He threw in ideas about how getting lots of sleep could help Liam throw better snowballs (such a Daddy thing to say), and also tried the pleading method, "Liam, everyone else is asleep, we're all tired, we should go night-night."

Finally, about 45 minutes after I tagged out, Liam was back in bed, peacefully. At some point, he just gave up. He asked Daddy to read him a book, which Nate did despite not having his glasses on (an impressive feat), and then he crawled into bed.

It was 3:30am when Nate crawled back into bed. I hadn't looked at the clock when the episode began, so I asked him what time Liam woke up. He responded with 12:30am. My jaw fell. It was like I lived in some alternate universe for two hours where time didn't exist, reason was null and void, standard fall-backs to get your kid to comply were total failures. The need to go downstairs was paramount and unyielding.

I'll tell you this much, my kid is nothing if not strong willed. I wonder where he got that from? (Please note the sarcasm in my words.) But maybe, just maybe, he figured out last night that he won't get what he wants, so he may as well just give up before he begins. I'm holding on to a shred of hope here, people, don't dash it for me.


Anonymous said...

Very funny-only because it is not me, although I did go through similar situations!