Posted on January 16th, 2011
According to the new parenting book I’m reading, it is fairly normal for a “spirited” kid to have odd sleeping hours. “Spirited” means all sorts of great things, but at 10:30 at night when my sleep is being disturbed, I consider it a euphemism for “major pain in the ass.” P is still awake, which sucks, but I did employ a few techniques from the book, which means she’s awake and not tantruming. (Last night was a multi-hour screamfest.) Baby steps.
Example: P hopped up on my bed and started running around in circles on it. Instead of saying, “Get down RIGHT NOW,” which was my first inclination, I said, “Wow, you really have a lot of energy right now. What would help you calm down?” She said, “Dot [stuffed dog] and my kangaroo. And I want you to carry me to bed.” Which I did, and she did stay put a while. (Yes, that is progress.) The whole point is to give the kids coping mechanisms, which is where most of my parenting resources go, anyway (that and fine motor control). I can always use more tricks.
I am enjoying this book, even though the science in it is somewhat dubious. I pretty much would be in favor of any book that uses illustrations of other parents handling their spirited children with less grace and patience than I do. (For all of my faults, I don’t yell except once in a blue moon, and I’m good at blaming the behavior, not the kid.) So I’m coming away from the book feeling like I’m a rock star mom. I also have figured out that M and I both fall into the realm of “spirited” adults, so P never had a fighting chance: genetics and environment. Poor kid.
This is what I have such a hard time expressing to people. I have a really bright, healthy kid, and I am so grateful for that. She can be so sweet, so empathetic, so loving. If you see us out having coffee, with her looking at her books and me reading mine, you think she’s an angel. But. But then she is pull-my-hair-out frustrating. Her temperament is a perfect mix of M’s and mine, and that makes her maddening. Stubborn. Moody. Sensitive. Intractable. Annoying. Clingy. Needy. If I do my job as a mom right, those characteristics will be turned into empathetic, kind, giving, principled, tenacious.
But on nights like this, when I am sitting her syncing her iPhone (hand-me-down from M) with the one episode of Dinosaur Train that she wants to watch (which she managed to delete – I don’t even know how to do that) in the hopes it’ll keep her still long enough to fall asleep so I can maybe get some, myself? I think, “Holy shit. She’s only 3. How am I going to make it until she goes to college?” The days may go fast, but the nights don’t.