Monday, May 01, 2006

Nap Time Rebellion

Ian moved into his new room about two months ago, allowing his baby sister to have the nursery. He was so excited about the new big bed covered with trucks, trains and planes, that he didn't miss his old room at all. He happily slept in his bed every night and naptime, only falling out a couple of times. I couldn't get over how easy the transition went. Easy, that is, until he realized he could climb out whenever he wanted.

I'm a firm believer that toddlers need "rituals." Through every day routines, they know what will happen next and understand what is expected of them. This gives them a sense of security. Our naptime ritual is to have a snack, milk, read a book, snuggle and say, "Sweet dreams." Going through all these motions helps Ian unwind and accept the fact that it is time for a nap. He may spend some time chattering away once he's lying down, but there haven't been tears or fits in a loooooooong time. Naturally a child is going to test the rules. That's how they learn. So it wasn't too big a surprise when Ian decided that he could get out of his bed and play instead of sleep.

I was downstairs playing with Laurel, when suddenly I heard the pitter patter (truly more like heavy, drunken thuds) of tiny (ha, not since he was 3 months old) feet above me. I could not only tell he was out of bed, but also that he had stomped into the master bedroom. Busted!

I ran up, swept him into my arms, carried him into his room and laid him back in bed. Quietly I said, "Naptime, Ian. Sweet dreams," and off I went back downstairs. Something caught my eye as I left. He had a twinkle that foretold me of what was to come. I decided to wait just outside his room for a few minutes to see what would happen. As I peeked around the wall, I could see him sitting up, legs dangling off the edge of the bed, a huge smile on his face. Slowly he slid off the bed and then bolted towards the door, right into my arms. Busted!

Again, I placed him back into his bed, quietly said, "Naptime, Ian. Sweet dreams," walked out, but waited just outside his door. I didn't even have a chance to turn around before I heard him stomping across his room towards me, giggling. Oh no, it had turned into a game for him! I didn't want to admit it, but I had succumbed to being one of those scenes from the nanny shows on T.V.! (Nothing against the nanny shows. I love them, and have found some good advice from them.)

We kept dancing this way for over 20 minutes. Downstairs, I could hear Laurel crying. I had to think fast. If I caved now and let Ian stay awake, he would just assume later that his dear, loving mama would cave again. I couldn't just let him roam freely upstairs. I thought briefly about putting Laurel in the front baby carrier and repeatedly putting him back into his bed every time he got up, but then realized I didn't have the energy to see it out. Finally, I came up with a solution. I picked him up on his last attempt for freedom, carried him into the nursery and put him in his old crib. I quickly removed Laurel's mobile and bird play center, quietly, but out of breath said, "Naptime, Ian. Sweet dreams," and walked downstairs to attend to Laurel's needs.

Downstairs, I could hear him giggling at first. Then it got quiet. About ten seconds later, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!" Crying ensued for about ten minutes. I did go check on him to make sure he didn't try to climb out and fall or get a limb stuck in the rails. When I peeked into the nursery, he was standing in the crib, looking at his reflection in the mirror on the opposite wall and sobbing. I felt so guilty for what I had done and started questioning my parenting skills. Rationalizing, I told myself that he was in a safe place, and indeed was tired and needed his nap. I went back downstairs to Laurel and cringed with each overhead sob. It seemed like an eternity, but in reality it only took him ten minutes to fall asleep.

The next day, Ian tried to pull the same stunt. I actually was expecting it and immediately placed him in the crib. This time there was only five minutes of sobbing. The day after that he stayed in his bed. In fact, to this day (yes, I know, I have just jinxed myself), he stays in his bed and eventually falls asleep. Hopefully, I have won this battle. As for the war, who knows?


Mary P. said...

Well done, thinking on your feet like that! He was probably truly disappointed that you outsmarted him and put an end to this wonderful new game he'd come up with for the two of you, but we all know - well, everyone but Ian knows - that he can have playtime any other time, but he needs naptime AT NAPTIME.

Very clever!

Stella said...

Okay, I have to admit that I actually laughed out loud when I read this. Sorry! I totally remember days like this.

Too bad Ian and I can't switch places...He could go to work for me and I would be more than happy to take naps for him.

Seriously...really...I would!