Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Good Night's Sleep

I did not expect to get much sleep last night.  For the first time, our son went to bed in an actual bed.  Kyle has been a big fan of this bed since it arrived two weeks ago... except at bedtime.  Each night, we read him a story, had him lie down for prayers, and gave him a good-night kiss.  Just as all that finished up, he would suddenly see the bed as a toddler-eating monster and, using his inherited survival skills, would slide off it immediately.

"No bed," he said as he scrambled to the floor each night. "Crib! Crib!"  Then he did the opposite of what I would expect of a kid his age: he climbed onto the rail of his crib to get in.  After several days of this, we were starting to wonder if Kyle was going to fight the bed for months, perhaps through the birth of our second child.  I envisioned us trying to put our new baby in the crib as Kyle conducts a sit-in protest, complete with picket signs, which basically would be sheets of paper scribbled with crayon.  There would be no way to read them, but the message would be clear: NO BED.  Kyle could possibly stage a hunger strike, too, but, considering how picky he is, I doubt we'd notice a difference.  I hope, after last night's breakthrough, we will avoid this scenario.

The evening didn't start off too promising.  Even though we tried to make the bed much like the crib by removing the pillow and comforter, the little guy wasn't fooled.  He wiggled himself off the bed immediately, calling for the crib.  We put him back in, and he tried to get out.  We put him back in again, and he tried to get out again.  Finally, we put him back in, said good-night, and left before he could climb out.  Jennifer had read advice from the SUPER NANNY (the superhero who can leap toy piles in a single bound; arch nemesis of Lex Pooper) stating that the best way to handle this sort of thing is to remain calm, put the child in bed, and not make eye contact.  So, as we were doing this, Jennifer wished the window sweet dreams, and I gave Kyle a good-night kiss while staring at the ceiling.  We almost smacked into each other as we tried to shut the door and avoid our son.

We could tell things were changing once he reopened his bedroom door.  Instead of demanding that we put him in the crib, Kyle just cackled and then tried to get back into the bed.  This happened again and again and again.  I started wondering if I'd have to eat dinner by his doorway.  But then Kyle grew tired of it, and started crying - not for the crib, but for us to tuck him in!  Jennifer did that, left his room, and then we stood there quietly, waiting for more noise.  We heard nothing.

It worked!  It worked!  Hooray!  We finally were able to get Kyle to try something new!  And it didn't take six months for him to do it!  Jennifer and I probably would have thrown a loud party, had our objective not been to get the little guy to sleep.  Once we settled down, we heard some thumping noises.  Kyle was probably hitting his foot against the wall, but it was enough to make us wonder if we'd sleep through the night, knowing that, even with the toddler rail, there was a chance our little guy could plop out of bed, perhaps head-first.  We put some stuffed animals on the floor by his bed in hopes they would cushion any fall.  Nothing like a little peace of mind.

We initially thought that Kyle's first night in a real bed would keep us awake, jumping at any noise we hear through the baby monitor.  Fortunately, since we are parents of a toddler, we carry unusually high sleep deficits.  Unless Kyle is sick, only serious noises can jolt us out of bed once our eyes close.  Jennifer and I slept until the alarm this morning, and Kyle kept snoozing until after seven o'clock.  He seemed to have a good night's sleep, too.

Now, I am by no means declaring victory here.  I did that once with a turkey sandwich, and Kyle has been fighting meats ever since.  We still might have a battle on our hands. Yet it was nice to see that it can be done, and perhaps our son will not request a room with a crib when he heads to college.  We'll see how things go tonight.

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