The Good News
The sleep must happen project is officially a success.
I actually just put E. down for her nap and she only cried for a few minutes. The past few nights have been heavenly. Last night she didn’t really cry at all, maybe a wimper or whine when I laid her down, but by the time I go out of her room, she was out.
Occasionally, she wakes up and cries for a few minutes in the middle of the night, but she is able to go back to sleep. Phew. This sleep thing was a killer for me. Maybe if we had just buckled down in the beginning, just maybe we wouldn’t be here; I don’t know.
But then I would never have had these sweet moments:All in all, it was a good decision. Everybody sleeps better and I get more work done, without having to stay up until 2am. And we still bring her to bed with us to cuddle in the morning if we want to sleep a little longer.
The Bad News
Appppaaaarrrenly, we can expect a relapse in this positive behavior. Brian started his Master’s this semester and is taking a behavior something or other class. His professor is some sort of well-known expert genius. (He really is. He is only like thirty and has been published something like 19 times.) Brian constantly talks about this class and all he is learning.
Last night, his professor was talking about how he follows families with children ages 2-5 around wal-mart. He observes how they behave. I know, it sounds kind of crazy, but hysterical at the same time. Based on his observations (and I am guessing they aren’t limited to wal-mart) when kids are acting out to get something their behaviors have a certain pattern.
The example: So you are in the grocery store with your little one, we’ll say Suzy. Little Suzy says she wants some kind of sugary, chocolate-coated cereal. Mom says no. When they go to get the milk, the milk reminds Suzy of said-chocolate cereal and she asks again. Mom says no. When they pass the plastic spoons on the way to get paper towels, Suzy thinks about sugary mess of a cereal she wants and asks again. Mom says no, again, irritation building each time she is asked. The request (or demand) and refusal continue to escalate until the parent gives in or the child meets their apex of throwing a fit for what they want. According to Brian’s professor this can manifest in such acts as running down the cereal aisle screaming and pulling all the cereal of the shelves. (the professor actually witnessed this. the mom, she just continued to shop, ignoring cereal-zilla) Once little Suzy meets her apex and still doesn’t get what she is demanding, she doesn’t know what else to do and so she stops.
The application: When we tried to establish the first time Elizabeth would cry until one of us came into the room and rocked her. As we grew more firm in our resolve to not bend to her crying, her crying became more hysterical. She used to start crying and then intensify the longer she had to wait. But once she figured out that when she cried harder and more hysterically we would come in, she skipped the normal crying all together. As soon as we laid her down she was start screaming and to avoid listening to the hellish cries we would obviously give in. So in the first nights of operation “sleep must happen” she would immediately go into her most intense cry. Once we were able to restrain ourselves from rushing to her hysterical side, she would calm down because her big guns didn’t work. Thus we were able to successfully establish our bed time routine.
But. . . .according the the professor, for some reason children have a spike in their behavior, as a last stitch effort.
Back to the example: As little Suzy and her mother are leaving the store, and mommy has been able to weather the tantrum, the home stretch looks clear. But for whatever reason, Suzy, throws one more, gigantic and horrifying fit in a final attempt to attain her much desired chocolate-y mess of a cereal. This spike in fit throwing can be as intense as the apex from earlier. I could try to give an example of what Suzy would try for the cereal, but I don’t even want to think about it.
The application: Brian has deduced that we may experience the same kind of reaction with E. Whether it is in the next few days or in the following weeks, we can expect Elizabeth to make one last attempt to rebel against her nightly routine. Her rebellion will probably be as insane if not worse than her previous apex. This just means Brian, and mostly me, will have to put on our grown-up pants and weather the storm.
I’m just praying this so-called expert is wrong. . .
-Sarah, One Curly Mama