For the last year and a half, Jodi and I have been sticking to the bedtime/naptime routines created for Olivia by the consultant we hired. As I've mentioned previously, this lady saved our sanity and brought back the sweet, sweet bliss that is a full night's sleep. Sure, there have been some setbacks. Some nights she's been woken up from teething pain, the onset of illness or because she knew Graham Norton would have some really good guests on his show. And don't even get me started about how many times we've tried to put her down for naps on the weekends and she'll refuse to take one. Actually, scratch that. I'm going to get started on naps because otherwise I'll have no segue and this post will go to shit. So here I go.
Naptime is generally between 1-3:30pm; a time that was set up by our daycare and we've done our best to comply with. We normally try to get her to expend as much energy in the morning as possible so she'll be tired for the nap. So we'll do things like go on walks, have her practice free throws, play at the playground or just do some good old fashioned spot welding. You'd think these things would work 100% of the time, but this is Olivia we're dealing with. So instead she just grows stronger and becomes an unstoppable threat that even the United Nations doesn't want to try and take on.
Last weekend we were at the playground and we met a grandmother and her 2 year old grandson, who Olivia quickly bonded with. This was a very welcome surprise because most of the time when we're at the playground Olivia gets shy if other kids come near her, so we end up watching our child watch other kids have fun (which is incredibly enthralling). Olivia and the boy were laughing and playing, much of which involved her growling and chasing after him repeatedly. Upon watching this I quickly pulled out my phone and called my bookie in Vegas: "Put me down for a cool Hamilton that Olivia goes down for her nap within 5 minutes. Yes, I know I owe you for that whole 'Olivia will eat carrots' wager and I will get you that money. But trust me, this a sure thing." We get her home and feed her lunch, during which she's already rubbing her eyes and looking tired. I read her a few books, turn on the white noise machine, put her down, tiptoe out of the room and close the door behind me thinking we've just scored a victory. Within seconds she's singing the only lyrics she knows to the 'Frozen' song 'Let It Go,' which, oddly enough, is just, "Let it go." Then she moves on to the other 'Frozen' song she knows: 'Do You Want to Build a Snowman.' But, of course, all she knows is, "I build a snowman." So she rotates between these two songs for the next 30 minutes until I finally feel like I need to go in and tell her to either quiet down or, at the very least, learn the rest of the lyrics to the songs. I explain that it's quiet time and she should get some rest. "No," she replies. "Well, allow me to retort," I say, and reiterate what I had previously mentioned. "No." I walk out of the room without another word and she begins crying like I had just told her that Elsa and Anna are not real, hate each other's guts, and killed and ate the snowman they built together. 5 minutes later she's passed out and ends up sleeping for the next two hours. Now I preface every naptime with tales of all the horrific things her favorite cartoon characters do in order to make her cry so she'll go to sleep faster. Then I kick back in my hammock, take a sip of the oversized margarita I've made that has her fresh, salty tears lining the rim of the glass and spend the next two hours pondering why my child prefers her mother over me.
When bedtime rolls around we know for sure that Olivia will eventually fall asleep, but we don't always know when that will actually happen. The bedtime ritual has remained the same since we started it, for the most part, but the difficulty in execution these days tends to depend on which of us is putting her down for the night. When I do it, Olivia might request an extra book or two before we end with 'Goodnight Moon.' Then I put her down and either wonder how many songs there will be before she quiets or marvel at how tired she must have been because of the complete silence coming from her room. If it's Jodi's turn, then a number of things may happen to try and prolong the inevitable:
- she wants to drink water (which we always provide), or she completely refuses it
- she wants the water, then refuses the water, and finally yells at Jodi for denying her the water she originally asked for
- she makes Jodi sit on the bed while Olivia reads the books in the reading chair
- she needs to excuse herself to bring me her water bottle or some random piece of lint that she must throw away so she can sleep in peace
- while Jodi reads 'Goodnight Moon' Olivia will shout, "Shh! No talking!," after each line
- Olivia will demand that certain stuffed animals (each night varies) must be tucked into the full-sized bed we have in her room using specific blankets and covering specific parts of their bodies
- Olivia will demand that Jodi lay down in the room with her and that they both go to sleep together
Once the light is turned off and Jodi puts O in the crib, it's hit or miss whether she'll throw a fuss and start crying. We're pros at dealing with this kind of stuff and know exactly how to handle it from there until she's finally asleep. But these days Olivia is throwing us for a loop by doing something we aren't prepared for yet: she's trying to break out of her crib. It began with her angrily refusing to lay down and throwing a leg up over the top rail of her crib in an attempt to jump out. We've had to go back into her room a number of times to help her back in and try to calm her down so she can rest. She's come to realize that she isn't tall enough to climb over, so she's moved on to more clever things. We've found makeshift rope fashioned out of the linens in her crib, a tunnel in the wall behind her poster of Raquel Welch and a false head constructed out of dried macaroni and papier mache. I'm also starting to wonder whether the full torso tattoo she just got is merely a cool piece of body art or an elaborate blueprint of our apartment building that she'll use to escape one day.
It appears that it is time to start thinking about the next phase of sleep training by modifying her crib with a toddler conversion rail, followed by ground effects, a spoiler and some sick ass rims. I can't wait to talk to other parents and brag about how my child's crib is faster and more furious than theirs. The conversion rail is what will allow Olivia to enter and exit the crib at her leisure, which will in turn give her more incentive to not go to sleep when we need her to. To be fair, Olivia sleeps on a cot every week at daycare and we haven't heard any stories or complaints from them (outside of their normal reports about her temperament). So if she can do it there, why can't she do it at home? If the experience from our July trip to Indiana is any indication, it's going to be a long and bumpy road.
We were staying at my parent's house and it was Jodi's turn to put Olivia to bed. We had brought our pack n' play for her to sleep in, however my parents had bought a toddler bed for her and we decided to give it a try based on her sleeping arrangement at daycare. Jodi got her all tucked in, turned on the white noise machine and joined us for some chill time. We had noticed that there wasn't any singing coming from Olivia's room, so Jodi decided to go check on her. It turned out that Olivia had gotten out of bed, turned off the white noise machine, turned on the light and was sitting in the middle of the room dropping a deuce (thankfully in her diaper and not on the floor). Jodi got her changed and then tried to get her back in bed but O wasn't having it, so we decided to put her in the pack n' play. The top bar on it is slightly lower than her crib, so Olivia was able to throw a leg over pretty easily. Then we just stood there and watched our child cry at us to let her out while she struggled to either free her leg or tip the whole damn thing over. We ended up standing outside of her door for 20 minutes, listening to her cry and willing her to calm down and get some rest (which she finally did). From that moment on we knew that the pack n' play just wasn't going to cut it any more, which meant the crib was soon to follow.
I have to say I'm both nervous and excited about Olivia learning and adapting to things like sleeping in a bed and potty training, which I take for granted in my adult life. I can't say that I'm looking forward to going back to nights of less sleep so that I can try to convince my child how awesome sleeping in a comfy bed can be. I foresee lots of herding her back into bed, waiting patiently outside her room to listen for sounds of her playing instead of sleeping and wondering if there is a toddler equivalent to the invisible fencing they use to keep dogs in yards. I also don't want to start any bad habits by letting her sleep in bed with us. When we got our first dog Molly, I made Jodi swear that we wouldn't let her sleep in bed with us. Cut to her first night with us and Molly is giving me the 'I don't know if I can trust you but I bet I could a lot more if you let me sleep in your bed' eyes and it was a wrap. Every night after that was filled with dog hair, paws kicking into our backs and early morning wake ups to feed and/or let her outside to pee. At least Olivia isn't as hairy, and I wonder if we could train her to potty outside. Hmmm....