Hi, my name is Jen and I have a highly energetic, outgoing, freakishly strong, willful, big-emotion daughter. Yes, my relatives all will attest that she is JUST LIKE ME. They are not so secretly ecstatic that she is JUST LIKE ME, and they consider this payback. Retribution. My day of reckoning. Justice for the sheer hell I good-naturedly put them through while they babysat me through various stages of my life. Like, the time I INSISTED that I wanted ketchup on my ham sandwich, knowing full well the entire time that as soon as my aunt put the ketchup on my sandwich I would refuse to eat it. Because honestly, ketchup on ham is just gross. I just wanted to see if I could get her to do it. I did.
Or the time that I convinced my babysitter that I was sick and INSISTED that she call my parents at the bowling alley to make them come home. I wasn’t sick. I was just sick of her. After two calls to the bowling alley they came home at 11 p.m. — I was still up. I found out recently that I made them leave their bowling Christmas party. Whoops!
Or the time that I convinced my idiotic 16-year-old babysitter to take my parents’ customer’s car into town to get ice cream — a car that my parents were REPAIRING, mind you — while leaving a 10- and six-year-old at home. ALONE. I only confessed to that little crime about five years ago. I told my parents that it wasn’t my fault that my babysitter was such an idiot and that she would be so stupid as to listen to a 10-year-old!
Oh, and my mother and aunts would be HAPPY to REGALE you with tales of my varied and wide-ranging tactics to extend my bedtime. You know, the typical, “I need a drink,” “I have to go to the bathroom,” “Read me just one more story,” “I’m going to read to myself in bed,” etc., etc., etc.
Ah, but they do still love me, telling these stories while laughing about what I put them through. And laughing that I AM NOW GETTING PAYBACK.
Lately we have been going through a lot of changes that confirm Monkey’s complete transformation from baby to toddler. Chiefly, getting rid of the nuk and moving into a big girl bed. And it actually makes me a little sad that she’s growing up so fast. It just goes by SO FAST. Part of me was worried that I was forcing the change because the new baby is coming. I didn’t want Monkey to still have a nuk after the new baby came because I figured then she would have it until she was three! And, I need the crib for the new baby. But, honestly, I think she was ready. The nuk weaning went so much better and faster than I expected. We followed the advice of many mothers who have come before, and cut off the tip of the nuk so that it didn’t work properly. After a few days of telling her that it was broken but still giving it to her, she completely forgot to ask about it before bed. And since then, she hasn’t even mentioned it.
The big girl bed transition, on the other hand, has not gone as smoothly. I armed myself with a strategy — using the Supernanny tactic of silently and consistently putting the child back in bed over and over again. I talked with other moms and Monkey’s pediatrician who advised me that this tactic was most desirable. They also forewarned me that I might need a gate to keep Monkey in her room. This way, if she refused to stay in bed at least she couldn’t get out of the room. “Make her room one big crib,” is what her doctor said. So I bought a gate and made sure her room was safe and that the only “toys” in her room were books.
We talked to Monkey for several weeks about her “new room” as we were getting it ready. Painting, hanging new curtains, laying new carpet. Every time someone came over we had her show off her new room. We weren’t actually planning to move her into her big bed and new room until after Thanksgiving. This way she would be comfortably settled in her new room for about two months before the baby came. Then Monkey decided to take a flying leap out of her crib last week. Well, guess what? TRANSITION DATE MOVED UP!
So anyway, I had the strategy and the gate. The first night was too good to be true. Monkey only got out of bed for about 15 minutes before settling down and going to sleep. In my fantasy world, this is how the transition would go:
“Oh mom, you want me to lay here, in this bed, instead of in my confined-space crib? Fantastic. No problem. No mom, I won’t get up and get out of bed. I’ll stay right here with my head on the pillow and the blanket covering me. I wouldn’t DREAM of getting out of bed and coming out of my room 155 times per night over the course of two hours. And if you gated me in my room to prevent me from leaving, I certainly wouldn’t retaliate by pulling every single piece of clothing out of my drawers and destroying every single thing in my closet. That would just be unruly, mom. I would never do that.”
Unfortunately, my nightmare transition consisted of an epic battle with Monkey getting out of bed 155 times and throwing all her clothes out. AND GUESS WHAT? THAT’S PRETTY MUCH HOW IT’S GONE SINCE THE FIRST NIGHT!
Yep. Last night consisted of two hours, 100 times out of bed, me momentarily abandoning the tactic after an hour and a half and losing my cool and yelling, then feeling like a horrible mommy for yelling when I knew I wasn’t supposed to, and a lot of tears (MINE!). So tonight — ah yes, tonight. Tonight consisted of us putting up the gate nearly immediately after Monkey got out of bed five times in the first 60 seconds. She read books in her bed, played in her closet, pulled all the socks out of her sock drawer, and scattered her books around her room. All during the first hour and a half. But, I told my husband, at least we haven’t been standing in the hall, putting her back in bed 100 times, crying and swearing in frustration. At least she’s not hurting anything and she’ll eventually get tired and get in her bed and go to sleep. And then. Then she decided to CLIMB OVER THE GATE. She f&cking climbed over the gate!!! WTF! I mean, there is a reason I call her “monkey,” but seriously! Yep, the little shit climbed over the gate. My husband was soooo mad. And all I could think about was, “Man, this is payback,” while I tried not to laugh. My poor husband — he was a mild-mannered, meek child compared to me. He didn’t deserve this payback. Me, on the other hand …
While I’m in the heat of battle I’m going to TRY REALLY HARD, to remind myself that this won’t last forever, that every parent has gone through it, and that someday too soon I’m going to be reminiscing with Monkey about this hell she put me through.