My oppressor is cruel.
My oppressor changes the rules without warning.
I now suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. I totally sympathize with my oppressor. I don’t want to leave the very person holding me captive and forcing her cruel regime upon my once peaceful home. True, I’ve plotted my escape route. I’ve considered signaling friends or neighbors – hoping someone would read my distress signals and send help. Smoke signals? Courier Pigeons? Will they help?
I’ve approached law enforcement. I’ve pleaded with them with my eyes. My tired, blood-shot, puffy swollen eyes. But I am powerless.
Her working conditions are a form of torture. Could the day start at 4am? Maybe she’ll awaken me several times before 5am? Maybe she’ll stand screaming on the stairs, risking waking the older child in the house? The uncertainty awaiting me in the wee hours of the next day is the psychological torture that accompanies the physical torture of starting your day in the middle of the night.
I’ve tried everything. I am bigger. I have more life experience. I hold the keys to the bank account, the car, hell, the front door. I provide shelter and food. And yet I can’t seem to escape these unfair working conditions.
Why does a toddler go from sleeping through the night and awaking after 6:30am to suddenly waking daily at 4:18AM or 5:02AM and then refusing to go back to sleep? And as anyone knows who has lived through this form of torture, an awake 3-year-old is entirely different from a baby who wakes in the middle of the night because a baby can’t march into your room, flip on the overhead lights, pull off your covers and shout “MOMMY WAKE UP!”
If they could, none of us would have them. Ever.
And so randomly in September began my months long imprisonment under the brutal regime of an almost 3-year-old. Was it moving her to a big bed, we wondered? Later it seemed taking away the pacifier only compounded our situation but these were all events that need to happen in the life of a person transitioning from babyhood to bigger kid-hood. Did she have to pee? Was she hungry? Is it her eczema? Should we buy this bunny clock and teach her to stay in her room until the bunny wakes? Does she sleep too late in the afternoon? Go to bed too early?
What about putting her on the potty at 11pm? How about taking away story time with mommy until she sleeps longer? How about no songs before bed? Maybe punishment will work because she loves those things.
But wait – don’t the “experts” say to reward good behavior. So how about this – how about promising her candy if she stays in her room until the bunny wakes up? What kid isn’t incentivized by a piece of candy? And what sleep deprived parent gives a crap about the repercussions of rewarding a kid with a piece of candy when they haven’t slept past 4AM in months? At that point, I am willing to confess to any crime I am charged with if it allows me to sleep longer.
Have you been there?
Can you feel me?
Are you squinting your eyes in deep suspicion of that cute little sweet 8-month-old you have? Cause you should if you’re not. These small dictators give no warning and no explanation for their treatment of the parental units. And you can drive yourself INSANE trying to trouble shoot and problem solve with a child who has the attention span of a gnat and an ability to ignore your direct questions more skillfully than Herman Cain. Except these kids don’t lie. They just don’t offer you any hint or help. I’d pay anything for one of her fellow toddlers to out her secrets to any paper in this country and expose her to the world – if it would give me the answer I need to help her sleep longer. The toddler-tell all would rise to the top of the Amazon and NYT best-seller list in 24-hours. Right?
And the emotional price tag on parents facing so many consecutive weeks and months in these brutal regimes is impossible to quantify. I wouldn’t say we’re through it chez moi but it’s been an entire week since me and 4am have met eye-to-blood-shot-eye, so perhaps we are turning a small corner? Or maybe it’s the Stockholm Syndrome denial rearing its head?
I can tell you that the bunny alarm clock didn’t do squat for brow-beating my toddler into staying in bed or in her room until the bunny wakes. But super fun fact: it’s been sport for her older sister who LOVES nothing more than to lecture her about staying asleep until the bunny wakes up and offering up her daily reminders that SHE slept until the bunny woke up. Santa’s imminent arrival feeds her lectures and warnings even more now.
I can tell you that taking away story time, taking away songs, worrying about nap times and promising candy all did nothing. Did applying her steroid cream for eczema on her skin that didn’t even really look that dry help? Who knows. I’m willing to try anything.
I do think ditching the pacifier added to our problem but it needed to happen. I do think putting her on the potty at 11pm has helped because she doesn’t seem to want to use her overnight diaper and eagerly gets on the potty at 5am. Clearly the only thing that can help with that is time and her bladder size increasing. Does anyone sell a pill to help with that?
I do think that offering her a bed time snack has also helped because like most 3-year-olds, she isn’t interested in sitting at the table for long during a meal, so supplementing her with some yogurt and apples right before bed time has been my latest trick. I tell you all of this in case you, too, are living in an oppressive regime and no one is receiving your bat signals.
So what can we do, people, because we are the 99% here and so far – Occupy Parents is kicking my ass.
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