There is a battle being waged in my house. Right now, at this moment - 4:16 a.m., the day after Christmas.
Now I live with little kids, and the rest of you who live with little kids already know that you could engage in a battle throughout the day over any number of minutia - like how many times it is acceptable to wear the same shirt in a week, or whether or not socks are merely an accessory when it's thirty degrees outside. Brushing teeth, eating meals, following directions ... little kids put an enormous amount of energy into becoming masters of their own little universes, and the fact that my son often shows up for church (and everywhere else) in the same monster truck t-shirt illustrates how I feel about such battles. Most of the time, in most situations, I choose not to take on a little kid with his mind made up. When I do, I'm almost guaranteed to end up acting like a little kid, too.
But this, friends? Is the hill I am willing to die on.
This is a battle over sleep. And, by extension, the sanity of our home.
(Kendra, you just THOUGHT it ended when they got older).
Silas has learned to climb out of his crib. Most kids choose bedtime as their battleground when they master this skill, and spend the evenings climbing out, and out, and out again. Neither of my children have ever done this. I have no explanation as to why, unless it is just exhaustion and the fact that all of us - including my kids - seem to welcome bedtime around here. No, Silas goes right to sleep at bedtime, without a peep. We thought we had somehow dodged the bullet with toddlers and sleep. We were wrong. Because Silas has decided four a.m. is the best time to wake up and begin his day. In fact, he's pretty well made up his mind that four a.m. is the best time to begin his brother's day, too. Which means that too many mornings in a row, I have been awakened by squeals over who had what toy first. At four a.m.
This is not acceptable.
Unfortunately, I originally reinforced his plan by bringing him out with me at 4 a.m. and snuggling up on the couch - a vain attempt to try to get him back to sleep, and to keep him from waking up his brother. It didn't work, by the way. He would snuggle up with me, but then he would want apple juice and cartoons and ... we were up. So then I made it my quest to discover why he was waking up so early. I have tried humidifiers, I've tried bed time snacks. I've tried Motrin (maybe he's teething) and even Benadryl (he has had a cold, and does wake up coughing sometimes). We've tried more pajamas, less pajamas, wearing socks to bed, opening their door for better ventilation, closing their door for less noise, closing vents ... you name it, we've tried it. The past month (that feels like a year) has been devoted to trying to get Silas to sleep until dawn. No luck.
And then Christmas Eve night it occurred to me - maybe he has always naturally rolled over and gone back to sleep at that time of night. But because of his newfound freedom, he just won't stay in bed anymore. Maybe there's nothing in his environment that is waking him up but his own will.
Yesterday morning I drew the line in the sand.
It only took three times of putting him back to bed yesterday to get him to stay (though of course he never went back to sleep - but his brother slept until 5:05, which feels like a serious accomplishment around here). Today, after the second time he did not climb back out - but now he has been crying for me in his bed for the past 45 minutes. I've been to him once, held him briefly and covered him back up. But it's night-night time (hear that Silas? It's still night-night time!) and no matter what his opinion is, he needs sleep more than he needs me to hold him right now. And as much as I hate the sound of my kids crying at 4:45 a.m., I hate even more the effects of an overtired toddler living with his sleep-deprived brother and over pregnant and overtired mother. We've seen too many cartoons, eaten too many random meals (last night it was bean burritos and shredded wheat - do YOU want to go to the grocery store with sleep-deprived children?), stumbled through too many days. We can't do it anymore.
It's bedtime. I mean it.
Wish me luck.