On Sunday night Max, my two-year-old, refused to go to sleep. He stayed in his bed but would bang his feet on the wall, toss around, and eventually sit up and start jumping. We tried scolding him, re-tucking him, anything…but the kid wouldn’t give up the fight. At about 1 AM I gave him one last long re-tucking with snuggles, stories, and kisses and I don’t know if he went to sleep or if I passed out and don’t remember him fussing anymore, but the next thing I knew I was dragging my tired butt to work Monday morning. When I cam home it was more of the same…a fussy two-year-old. He’s a good boy but he is in constant motion…like a shark that will die if he holds still, and his latest trick is skipping his naps causing him to be massively overtired when bedtime rolls around…my only time with him during the week.
In the past few weeks he has had trouble sleeping. Some of it is him trying to get attention, some of it is he is just getting older, and some of it is he is having dreams and nightmares. A few nights back he shot up in the middle of the night and shouted “NOOOOOO!!!” at the top of his lungs. When I went in he was still clearly asleep but swiping at some imaginary foe. Kate found him one night convinced there was something attacking him from behind the Chinese paper lantern. I was getting freaked out because his new imaginary friend is named “Mr. Monster.” Max will randomly at parts of the day say, “Hello Mr. Monster!” I asked him where Mr. Monster was and he told me, “He’s inside the walls.” Great…I have a haunted house…that’ll go awesome with my anxiety. Refusing to believe my two-year-old has an imaginary friend I probed to see what object in the house was Mr. Monster. “What color is Mr. Monster?” I asked. “Ummmm…he’s black…and blue.” Okay, I asked, “Is he big or small?” Max answered, “Yeah.” Great…so there’s some haunted bruise living in my walls who is either big or small. Now I can’t sleep. A few nights ago we determined that Max is afraid of the dark and prefers it when we leave the hallway light on at night so the light comes through the crack under the door. So glad he can talk…easy fix and something I can relate to. I was deathly afraid of the dark as a kid and remember thinking Cookie Monster was going to eat me when my parents turned off the lights.
Monday night we struggled to fall asleep again but finally he fell asleep (or stayed quiet in his room) long enough for Mommy and Daddy to relax on the couch for two hours before going to bed…which was magical. Dodge, our newborn 1-month-old, is also fussing but he’s easier to hush with the ole boob-in-the-face trick. Works better when Mom does it. After finally convincing Dodge that we would feed him again when he wakes up he passed out around Midnight. I went to Max’s room to tuck re-tuck as I do every night, I wasn’t quiet because the kid could sleep through a tornado once he’s out so I was surprised to see his eyes wide open when I opened his door. “Why are you up? I asked Max. He replied, “I have an ouchy.” I sat down on his bed, skeptical. Max emulates every ouchy he sees so I wasn’t buying the story from the little boy who cried “wolf.” I re-tucked him and went to kiss his forehead and that was when I realized he was burning hot. We took his temperature and it was a little over 100 so not too bad. I asked him, “Where is it ouchy?” He pointed to his neck. I stood corrected…Max had a cold.
After some Infant’s Tylenol and kisses I pulled him into bed with us. He kicked me in the groin for about 30 minutes straight till I asked, “Max, would you like to go back to your bed?” “Yeah!” He said, and hopped out of my bed and ran to his room where he tucked himself in. The next day the doctor said it looked like just a cold but we’re not risking anything with travel booked to Atlanta for the Final Four this Friday so we are keeping a close eye on him and pumping him full of liquids. Last night he fought the good fight again and woke up twice with some tears and wailing but we let him sort himself out (no fever). He didn’t call for our help and we didn’t offer it…he went back to bed on his own.
Aside from the cold I think I know what is going on. Max goes through his night-night routine and in the old days he would play by himself alone in bed for about 30-45 minutes then fall sleep. That was pre-Dodge. Post-Dodge he stays up and plays in bed longer and skips his naps 30% of the time. I think he does his routine, lays down, and hears Mommy and Daddy with Dodge (crying and comforting) and feels like he is missing out on our attention. As a two-year-old the logical solution is to break the rules since that gets our attention and draws one of us upstairs. One of us goes up and scolds him for jumping on the bed and he stays quiet for a short period of time then tries again. My solution was to punish him more which Kate rejected saying it would eventually end in a stalemate and suggested we try ignoring him. It seems to be working. He vies for our attention with bad behavior and we don’t give it to him, he gets frustrated, gives up (eventually), then uses his words.
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