Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Battle for Bedtime

We are currently engaged in a monumental battle with our oldest son, one that will leave scars for all time – on me. Although not yet three years old, Sam has decided that the rules of bedtime no longer apply to his little person. Oh, how wrong he is.

My father says it’s Karma, and laughs a little to loudly for my comfort. In some dark corner of my mind, I suspect he’s right. He now revels in telling the story of me hiding behind the stairwell door to see what was going on whilst I was supposedly sleeping soundly. I apparently tried this so many times my mother actually locked me in my room. Things were done differently back then. I also remember creeping downstairs and hiding behind the couch in what I thought was a masterful attempt to watch Hill Street Blues. At least I had good taste as a child.

For the last two weeks, Sam has been asked, told, ordered, begged, goaded, and threatened. You name it, we’ve tried it. We take away his security blanket if he gets up. This occurs not once, but three times, as he carries Red, Blue, and Yellow. I capitalize because these are their official names. We’ve tried removing his stuffed animals. He has gone without Polar Bear, Brown Dog, Porcupine, Dirty Dog, Cat, and Buffalo, but still doesn’t listen. I’ve made deals and promises, everything short of a bloody handshake. None of it has had any lasting effect. Still, we know it’s just a phase (insert prayer here), and he will grow out of it.

Yesterday at nap time, however, it seemed for a while that Sam finally gained the upper hand. At the end of her rope, Leah took the yellow blanket and actually told Sam that the garbage man would take it away forever if he didn’t go to sleep. Nice try, Mommy, but no. Now, Yellow sits on the front stairs, suffocating in a Glad Handy-Tie Bag.

When I arrived home from work, everyone was on the living room floor playing nicely. Sam related what happened to Yellow without a bit of remorse. I decided that night I would try to reason with my two year old son. Ludicrous, but what the hell, it sure couldn’t hurt. At bedtime last night, like a vampire from his coffin, Sam was out of bed instantly. Into his room I marched, like a confident father (ha!).

“Get in bed.” Repeated 20 times, with no measurable success.

“Sam, are you going to get in bed?”
“Ok, then I’m taking your bed away. You can sleep on the floor”

A pause . . . do I see a crack in the armor?

“No, don’t take my pillows”
“I’m taking everything. You don’t want to get in bed. I’m taking your bed and sheets and pillows away.”
“No, I don’t want to sleep on the floor.”
“Then get in your bed and stay there.”

At this moment, he looked at me with eyes that, if they could, would have said, “Nice move, Bobby Fisher. You’ve won this round.”

Then he climbed into bed and was quiet for the rest of the night.

Who needs an MBA class in Negotiations? Just try living with a toddler.