I know you all have heard, a veritable transcript of many a parent in the midst of their child’s bedtime idiocy.
The very clip fell into my hands on the first eve of a new bedtime routine. At no other point could I have related more. Unless that point is now. Several weeks later.
But let’s flash back a moment. In June, I took my first, very much earned and needed, trip away from all of my boys to spend a blissful weekend at a lake house in Tennessee with ten girlfriends, many of whom I hadn’t even seen since before I had Luke, almost 3 years ago. The weekend was a mirror of the good ol’ college days… full of vivacious laughter, too much beer, gossip and reminiscence of a time when Hootie and the Blowfish dominated the air waves, everyone wondered if Ross and Rachel would end up together, and Drink & Drown was every Wednesday night at Mainstreet.
With the precision of an anesthesiologist arriving just when you’re about to tussle with your husband in that “tranquil” birthing suite; I welcomed Sunday relaxed and ready to return to my family. I’m sure I must’ve had some thoughts that their sleep would be disrupted with the brief change in our home. I didn’t realize it was going to be a lasting change. Night after night following my return, my 2 ½ year old refused bed. He screamed and cried and kicked behind his secured door. Then suddenly, one night it hit me; he wants freedom. It occurred to me that my daytime-potty-trained son was becoming too independent to not have the freedom at night.
Easy enough. I’ve smuggly watched this one hundred times on Supernanny. I was better than all of those moms. I’ve got this under control, I thought. I shared my master plan with my husband: tonight, we set him free. If he comes out, we simply put him back in his bed without a word. He’ll get bored and we’ll win.
Excitedly, I share with my big boy that we have officially removed his safety lock.
“Honey, when you have to go potty, just come on out and we’ll make sure you go and then you just go right back to bed.”
He seized the opportunity. The freedom. Immediately. And five minutes later, he did again. And again. Each time, I did as I had studied and without a word, I returned him to his bed. Before I knew it, almost two hours had gone by and I had lost my “me time” for that night.
This continued. Night after frustrating night, I felt myself losing. I was no longer in control. He was flat out manipulating me and my husband knew it. Why wasn’t this working, I questioned my process wishing that Brit nanny was sitting with me, coaching me. But she wasn’t. I couldn’t process the situation any longer.
I talked to my friends. I talked to my mom. Even now, I don’t exactly have an answer. But we have found a compromise. He gets three chances (and that is way too many chances!) to use the potty from the time we start our bedtime stories. By the third chance, he gets to use the potty but the gate on his door. For over a week now, he’s just been playing the game. He will repeat our deal verbatim.
“Three times and I get the gate.” He recites.
“Yes, son. But you don’t want the gate up. You just want to stay in your room after the second time.” I smile, encouragingly.
He’s playing the game. He will reach the third potty break and say, “Okay, that was three.” He hops back into bed, I have to tuck him in, put the gate up and then…finally…quiet.
I may not be able to actually use the F-word to enhance my wishes at bedtime, but you know as I picture my cushy couch and that empty wine glass awaiting me in the next room; I sure am thinking it.