Aren’t kids great at prolonging bedtime? For not having complete control over their bodily functions, they certainly are masterminds of manipulation and cunning. I was shocked at how early my second daughter began honing her abilities to delay being put in her crib.
We have a nightly ritual of reading stories, rocking, and singing our lullaby before Sophie is tucked into her crib, alongside her sidekicks: Night-night Bunny, Fat Cat, and Moose. Lately she has begun exerting her will to avoid succumbing to sleepiness and push back the moment of crib-deposit, and she seems to have a specific strategy in place.
- The first line of defense is always squirming. Physical resistance is terribly annoying, and there’s nothing I like less than trying to rock a writhing baby. (That’s a lie. Everything that pertains to potty-training, reality shows about fishing, and too-small swimsuits are much worse.) The best way to combat this is to do the fake-get-up move. Once she realizes you’re only going to put her in the crib sooner, she settles back down.
- Confirming the location of all her lovies. This is a crucial tactic that borders on being obsessive-compulsive. At this point, Sophie must guarantee that a) all her companions are within grabbing distance, and b) her blankie is tucked adequately around her. “Wear it!” she barks, as I obediently drape her blanket around her back. She makes a self-satisfied noise, and I arrange her animals around her. The moment at which I sit down in the rocker, holding my child, her blanket, and all three “friends”, is one of my least graceful parts of the day. I look ridiculous.
- Listing all members of her extended family. “Papa!” she chirps happily. “Dammy!” (To clarify- this is Grammy. I can see why you might be confused, judging from her past vocabulary exploits.) One must verbally acknowledge each family member, or Sophie becomes enraged. At first I thought I could ignore her chants of, “Daddy! Daddy!” but this only causes her to repeat it more forcefully, “DADDY!” until you acquiesce. “Uh-huh. Daddy. Papa. Izzy.” Sigh.
- Being silly. Sophie has reached the age where she grasps being “funny”, and she has become a bit of a clown, especially at strategic moments. During this stage of stalling, she will often fake burp, or stuff Night-night Bunny down her shirt, punctuated by the announcement, “Funny!”
- Stream of consciousness. This personal favorite of mine involves Sophie lifting her head periodically to point out, “Bears. Two bears. One two.” followed by, “Emma seeping. Michael seeping.” and then adding, “Sophie pooped. Mommy funny. Daddy big.” It’s hard for me to intervene when she goes all Faulkner on me, because I find it very entertaining.
- Increased affection. This is the phase where Sophie begins to kiss me over and over, with her sticky, sweet lips. I can’t resist this. I adore the hugs and kisses, although after the 18th puckery kiss, I’ve got to call it a night.
After all these effective stall tactics, we finally arrive at:
- Surrender. Sophie knows I’m going to win this eventually, so at some point, after exhausting all her tricks, she rests her head on my shoulder, and quietly gives up. This maneuver is most definitely not a guarantee that she won’t resort to screaming hysterically minutes after being placed in her crib… but it’s a start.
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