Monday, May 5, 2008

When They Just Make You Crazy

My teeth hurt.

It's not because I need dental work.

It's because I have two three-year-olds who won't go to bed.

It matters not to them that they are overtired, exhausted, and one of them is sick. They just want to prolong their time awake, at whatever the cost to Late Blooming Mom's (and Dad's) sanity.

Or so it seems.

It's not fear of the dark that's keeping them up (they have a night light). It's not fear of abandonment. They know damn well we are in the next room if they need us. It's all about control -- them, over us.

It's at the point where one or the other parent has to stay in the room, laying between the cribs to make sure they keep quiet and stay in bed.

This only exasperates me or my husband, and leads to us having precious little time for each other, or to ourselves, after bedtime.

We've pulled out the threats -- no TV the next day, none at all -- and we've made good on the threats twice already. They're good for a night, then fall right back into their bad habits the next night.

No wonder my teeth hurt.

As I wrote in this space once before, as I child, I fought bedtime so hard that my own mom put me out in the hallway of our New York City apartment building with my blanket and my stuffed rabbit. I've been determined to avoid inflicting such trauma on my own kids; I know it was traumatic because forty-plus years later, I can still remember it.

But I can sure as hell see where she was coming from.

We have a bedtime routine. We limit the number of books we read. We cuddle to the same three songs on the same CD after books. Then we walk them to their beds, and put on the CD they associate with sleeping that they've heard practically since birth.

Some nights it works.

Some nights, they make me insane. Tonight is one of those nights.

So to all those other parents out there who may, this very night, be gritting their hurting teeth and wanting to slam doors and scream and tear out their last non-gray hairs, I say, I hear you, brothers and sisters.

Wanna meet for a drink?

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