Our little boy, while being an adorable, helpful, kind and loving boy one minute, can turn into a royal pain the rear when it comes to bed time. These past two days have been particularly trying, so much so that at times his antics turn comical. Part of me wants to laugh, except that I know that laughing will only exacerbate the issue and the is the last thing I need when at 9:15, our son is still not sleeping. We even tried two different tactics with him over the last two nights, myself putting him to bed one night and my wife the other. So without further delay, lets start with two nights ago.
Our son's normal bedtime, the time that we feel it is best to put him to bed, is around 7. Occasionally we will let him coast till 7:30, but that is normally about it. Two nights ago, we weren't letting him go past 7 because he seemed tired and we knew that if we let him go any longer, he might get so tired that he could catch his second wind and then never go to sleep. So up into bed we went, I the designated bedtime reader and singer, and after about half hour to forty five minutes, I left. He wasn't asleep, but I reached the point where if I laid there any longer singing songs, I would have fallen asleep and that would have been the end of me for the night. Almost as soon as I left, the issues started. The first one was that he decided to drink almost all the water we left him with and managed to spill some on himself and his bed. So up my wife went to change the sheets and his clothes. Next came the desire for mommy to come upstairs and wind his bear that sings "you are my sunshine". There were a few other attempts to get out of his room, stay awake, suck us into staying with him or doing something for him that was completely unnecessary at that time of night. Eventually, he was quiet for five minutes and I went outside to get some work done. Well, on one of my trips past a window, I saw him standing in the kitchen with my wife. I don't even remember what he wanted, but I had to carry him upstairs once again, and put him back in bed. We tried everything. Eventually, I stayed outside to watch the bats flit around, my wife went to bed, and when I finally made it to bed, our son was sleeping on my side of the bed. (Sidebar: we have a rule that if he comes into our room, he needs to sleep in his sleeping bag on the floor that we have permanently set up for him). So I picked him up, put him in his sleeping bag amidst his protests that "mommy said I could sleep in your bed". "No buddy, she didn't." Within five minutes, he had climbed back in bed next to my wife. I had not fallen asleep yet so I picked him up once again, and put him back in his sleeping bag. Then he started talking. I told him to be quiet. After that, I feel asleep only to wake up in the morning to find him sleeping in our bed. Damn it!
Fast forward to last night. Almost as soon as my arrived home with our kids, we started the discussion about what we were going to do for our son's bed time. Instead of pushing for a 7 o'clock bed time, we figured we would eat dinner and let him play outside a little bit more. So we ran with it. He didn't seem as tired, and we let him play outside till 8. It seemed long enough and we sure as hell weren't going to let him play outside any longer. It was my wife's turn to take him to bed so up she went, returning almost an hour later, and announced that she was going to bed. I was hoping for the best with our son and expected the worst. Well, I was throwing the ball to our dog Aspen, and I hear our mudroom door open inside, and then close. I go over to our open garage door and see our son standing there with his boots on. "Daddy, I have to go pee behind the shed." Really? Its after 9 and he is still not asleep and thinks that it is OK to get up, get his boots on, and go pee behind the shed when there is a bathroom right next to his bedroom. Needless to say, I sent him upstairs. I go back outside and no sooner had I started throwing the ball to Aspen again than I hear his head bang against a window above me. Sure enough, there he is, smiling and staring down at me. I simply look up at him, point, and he runs off. I was hoping he would run off to his room, but I knew he probably went right for our bed and onto my side. I finished up outside within another 10 minutes. After taking my boots off, my first destination was our bedroom to see if he actually was there. Surprise, surprise, he was. So I picked him up and despite the protests and myriad excuses that I got all the way back to his bedroom, I still plopped him down in his bed and told him to go to sleep. Instead of venturing very far, I sat down in our dining room (which happens to be right below his bedroom) and turned on our computer. No sooner had I logged in and brought up the Internet than I hear his little footsteps pattering across his floor and sure enough his door opens. I don't even get up, I just told him to get back into bed. "But daddy, I'm scared." My response, "It's OK, I'm downstairs and nothing will happen." Believe it or not, that was it and he actually stayed in his bed. What a process though. Two nights in a row he didn't fall asleep till after 9.
I don't even care that he didn't fall asleep till after 9, I just want him to stay in his room and in his bed for the night, not our bed. I can appreciate the fact that he might be scared, but he won't tell us what he is scared of most of the time. He will occasionally allude to something, but those times are different than the everyday excuse he tries to use to get into our bed. We have asked him what he is scared of only to be met by silence on most occasions. Hopefully within the next month he will start returning to a state of equilibrium as he nears his birthday, but I won't bet on any of it. Even if I was a gambling man, the odds or not in my favor and I know it. I will simply hope for the best and expect the worst. Luckily tonight, both my wife and I are heading out and we won't have to deal with bedtime. We will just have to deal with getting our son back to his own bed when we get home. Oh well, it could be worse I suppose. For now, short of putting a lock on the outside of his door (which I don't think I could do), we will try more tricks and see what works. It may just be a matter of one of sitting in the dining room catching him every time he tries to leave his room with some excuse or another. Even if it is to announce that he found a tiny piece of paper towel that needs to be thrown out. (That really did happen as well!)