Madeline: (Calling from upstairs.) I need a blanket on me!
Me:(Calling back.) There's one on your bed.
Madeline: But...I need it on me.
Me: So...put it on you!
Me: Put the blanket on you!
Me: Pull the blanket on your body!
Me: Madeline. pull. the. blanket. on. you!
Madeline: What?...What did you say?...What did you say, Mumma? What did you sayyyy?
Me: Okay, I'm coming.
Why do children fight sleep? Don't they realize that they will spend the majority of their lives exhausted and longing for a nap? If somebody showed up to work with a pillow demanding I take a nap, I'd kiss that sandman right on the mouth. Yet, our children take this precious gift of uninterrupted rest and throw it right back in our faces. It's one of life's cruel ironies. Sleep is wasted on the young.
When I was a very small child, I would sometimes hide under the dining room table in an effort to avoid bedtime. I remember feeling left out of all the fun when I was stuck upstairs while the grownups probably threw parties, ate snacks, and played with all my toys downstairs.
So, if this is what is going through your mind, Maddie Bear, let me assure you. You are not missing anything. After you go to bed, Mumma and Dada sit on the couch staring at several electronic devices at once just waiting for you to fall asleep so we can go to bed ourselves.
I've come to the conclusion that Madeline is never going to go down without a fight. She was not easy to put to sleep as a baby(see here and here), and she's not easy to put to sleep now. There was a brief period of time about a year ago where it seemed like we had passed this phase. She played us for the fools we are.
We've tried to make bedtime as cozy and inviting as possible. She's had baths, cuddly blankets, noise machines, books, and Mozart playing softly in the background. We've tried the opposite approach and made her room very quiet. We've tried moving bedtime earlier and pushing it back later. We've taken long afternoon naps and skipped afternoon naps. No matter what we do, one fact remains the same...it will take Madeline two hours to fall asleep.
What does she do during those two hours up in her room? Mostly, she talks to herself. As I'm typing this, I can hear her having an entire conversation upstairs.
"If you go on my head, that would be silly!" she's saying. Now, in a deeper voice, she's answering, "Giddy-up. If anything goes wrong just say 'Boogie-Boogie' okay?" I'm starting to think I should be worried.
Sometimes she sings instead of talks, or reads a book aloud, but she's very rarely quiet.
The talking thing isn't so bad, really. In fact, it's usually pretty funny. But now she's progressed from talking to herself to bugging us. She tries everything in her power to get us upstairs with her. Usually she asks to go potty, and since we're still working on avoiding accidents, she knows this is a sure way to get our attention. Sometimes she really does need to go, but more often than not, she spends five minutes talking to herself on the potty instead of talking to herself in bed.
Sometimes she switches tactics and takes her pajamas off, or begs for a drink of water, or throws a book on the floor loudly enough for me to wonder if she's caused bodily injury to herself. One night she cried herself to sleep because I wouldn't bring her an apple. Hmm, maybe crying herself to sleep is the way to go.
One may think, "So what? It takes the kid a long time to fall asleep. What's the big deal?" Well, other than the fact that it's annoying, Madeline really does need her sleep. She's VERY tired when I wake her up at 6 am every morning. In fact, she doesn't budge. Sometimes Eric comes in and drags her out of bed by her toes, which gets her up, but leaves her very grumpy. The teenage years will be hard.
We're also starting to worry about the impact this is about to have on the new baby. Will Madeline keep her up at night? Will the baby be an incessant bedtime talker too? This could get bad.
And for the record, bedtime started tonight at 7 pm. It is now 8:35, and Madeline is still not sleeping. About half-an-hour ago, she yawned loudly and angrily declared, "I'm not sleepy!" Then she played school with Olaf for a bit. I brought her to the potty once, nearly had a heart attack when she started whacking a book against the side of her bed, and am now listening to her sing, "Here is the church and here is the steeple."