Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Of course you have, but I don’t care because this is my blog and I do what I want.
Does that sound like the voice of someone who had a nice, peaceful evening last night? No. No, it does not. Instead, it is the voice of a mom who has been routinely tortured by her adorably geared up three-year-old whose excitement over Christmas has reached such a fever pitch that he can’t calm himself down to go the F*** to sleep.
I know that parental whining about toddler bedtime is about as tired as I am at this very moment, but mostly it’s because we are trying to wrap our heads around why, why, why for the love of God, why is this happening and why does it keep happening, and why don’t we have that kid from Monsters, Inc. who giggles a little and then passes out so quickly you think she might have narcolepsy?
My son’s skills at evading bedtime are about as calculated and manipulative as an evil genius. We have tried to adapt, initiating different bedtime routines to throw him off the scent, but little by little, minute by minute, he stretches and negotiates until finally you realize you’re back in the same pattern of laying next to him trying to play dead while he whispers to himself in the language of Mordor and then crawls over your back to ask: “What you doin’, Mama?”
Me: Nothing, go to sleep.
Lucas: I want some water.
Me: You just had water. You had two glasses of water. All done water.
Lucas: No because I need it.
Me: Go to sleep.
Lucas: shbash shash bash sasha bah hardlach
Me: …. (pretending to play dead again)
Lucas: I need to go pee-pees.
Lucas: Mama. Mama. Maaaaaamaaaaaaa.
Lucas tosses and turns for about five minutes and is relatively quiet. I hear him chewing on the edge of his pillowcase, but he hasn’t peeped up. I become hopeful that maybe he’ll doze off soon. I open one eye like Popeye to see if he’s finally knocked out.
He’s a millionth of a millimeter away from my face, just staring at me.
Lucas: Hi, Mama!
Me: LUCAS! Go. To. Sleep!
This pattern continues, by the way, for two hours and 20 minutes. Now do you wonder why I, and the parents of millions of toddlers, are losing our minds?
I want to know how our parents did it. Because they make it sound like they just left us in our rooms and, maybe we didn’t fall asleep right away, but we played to ourselves or babbled and eventually passed out on our own. Maybe a few nights we had nightmares and crawled into our parents’ bed. But did mom lay next to me for hours every night? I don’t think so. How can I be that mom?
Did our parents go through this and just keep their mouths shut? Or have toddlers somehow morphed into the dominant minds of our time, bending our weak Gen X/Millennial brains to do their bidding so that one day they can rule us all and in the darkness, bind us? Toddlers are to parents what North Korean hackers are to Sony. They get us by invoking the words “I’m scared” or “Don’t go, Mama” or “I need Mama,” and we give in, even though we swore we wouldn’t let the terrorists win.
Maybe we WERE like this when we were little, but our parents just forgot. They wiped it from their brains so as not to experience symptoms of PTSD. Either way, I know that— unlike the Balrog in the Mines of Moria—this too shall pass.