It currently feels like we are fighting a losing battle with entropy.
- This morning I was running late getting out the door to go to work. I bent down to pick up my work bag, and the sleeve of my nice button-down shirt tore. The fabric just disintegrated, and suddenly there was a 4-inch-long tear. I’ve had the shirt for years, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, but still, 😦
- Every evening Tadpole walks in the door and kicks off his shoes in the living room or dining room. This would not be a problem except for the fact that each shoe is full of mulch from the playground at school. Like, completely full—I’m not sure how there’s even room for his feet in there, given how much mulch he dumps out. I try to get the bits up with the dust buster, but usually forget to do that until after they have been tracked all over the house.
- The green growing plants in our yard are lovely and getting bigger all the time, but unfortunately, the majority of them are weeds. There are two places where a bushy weed is as high as the first-floor windows. So even when I’m inside, I’m aware of the steady creep of chores-that-need-doing outside.
- We discovered a water stain on the dining room ceiling last week, which means we have some sort of leak in the upstairs bathroom. Wheee….
In case I didn’t feel out of control enough, Tad has discovered the freedom that his “big boy bed” gives him and is really feeling his oats. He has given up on napping altogether when he is home (though he has gone back to napping at school). We took some of the most tempting toys out of his room for naptime and bedtime, and his solution has been to hang out in the hallway and play with them. Sunday night he was up until at least 9pm (despite having been put to bed at 7:30), and he spent the intervening hour and a half standing at the top of the stairs and calling down to us. He started with, “What are you doing?”, “What are you watching, Momma?”, “Are you having a snack, Mommy?”, “I’m hungry.” When that didn’t get the desired response, he turned on the hallway light and spent the next hour calling, “don’t turn the light off!” every 3 seconds (even though we were studiously ignoring him and had made no attempts to turn off the light).
After the Sunday night fiasco, Roo called our lovely pediatrician. Dr W called her back Monday afternoon after Roo had picked up Tad, so not only did Dr. W give us advice, she and Tad chatted on the phone for a few minutes. Roo reports that the conversation was adorable, and I love how fond Tad and Dr W are of each other.
The new plan is being called “the five-minute game” and is kind of a modified version of modified-cry-it-out. Only Tad isn’t crying at all, he’s more sitting in his room cheerfully chattering away and not going to sleep. Anyway, the first step was to put up a baby gate in the doorway of Tad’s room. I think it will only be a few days before he figures out how to open it and we will then be officially screwed. But until that happens, we’re supposed to tuck him in and tell him that we’ll come to check on him in five minutes, IF he is in his bed. After that it’s ten minutes, then fifteen, then twenty, etc. If he is not in bed, we call up and tell him that we can’t come to check on him until he’s in his bed. He can have books in his bed, but no toys. So far it hasn’t gotten him to sleep any earlier, but it has helped with parental frustration tolerance. At least he is in his room (and mostly in his bed) instead of standing at the top of the stairs, and I know that I can ignore him between “checks”. My hope is that once we get him into the habit of staying in his bed he will go back to falling asleep at a more reasonable hour. In the meantime, the late bed times make wrestling him into his clothes and out the door in the morning pretty rough these days.
One of the hardest things for me about parenthood is having every aspect of my life so impacted by this little being who I cannot control. I can encourage. I can create optimal conditions for something to happen. I can impose consequences when he doen’t do important things, or promise rewards when he cooperates. But in the end, I cannot make him eat if he refuses, and I can’t make him sleep if he would prefer to sit on his bed singing songs at the top of his lungs. It’s pretty difficult to get him dressed if he decides to be uncooperative, especially as he gets bigger. I can threaten to leave places if he makes a scene, but I can’t actually prevent him from making weird noises at the restuarant table.
Plus, as soon as we are in a nice routine with strategies for getting him to do what we want/need him to most of the time, along comes a new developmental stage and a new set of challenges for all of us. We were in a lovely routine for a while there, and it felt like I was mostly getting enough sleep, enough time with Roo, and enough time to myself. But most of that non-Tadpole time was weekend nap time and time after he went to bed on weeknights. With this new getting-out-of-bed phase, that time has suddenly vanished. I know that this is how things go as a parent (though I had tricked myself into thinking “ah, we’re finally past the sleep deprivation stage and things should be easier from here on out.”). We’ll find a new routine and a new normal, and Roo and I will negotiate ways to get our needs met. But in the meantime I’m trying to keep from feeling like everything in my life is falling apart.