Yesterday we packed the house and practically sold out the first ever Listen To Your Mother DC show. It was remarkable. Fourteen local writers had the audience laughing and sometimes, crying, for 90 minutes. I was so honored to be a part of the debut show and humbled by the packed house. We even started late because of the line out front to get into the theatre. One of the things I really liked about the show was it was generational – it powerfully opened with a piece by a grandmother who reminded us all that we are mother warriors. After the show, it was a pleasure to stop and talk with people who enjoyed our show and to hear more about why they enjoyed it. My conclusion – sometimes we all need a break from the kids to sit together and remember that we aren’t alone. Final thing – sometimes I feel like I am writing in a black hole – I just put it out there into cyberspace and there it goes – but reading in front of an audience and hearing their reaction – now I see why people love performing! What a thrill!!
Because I was pretty busy all weekend and had no time for blogging, instead today, here’s the piece I read yesterday, which was something I wrote on this blog and posted back in December. I call it Occupy Parents: Oppression by Toddler.
This fall it hit me – I am the 99%. There are no protestors out front, no camp, no drum circles, no one is fighting for my rights. I am oppressed, mistreated. Yet I do nothing. I suffer from Stockholm Syndrome.
I sympathize with my oppressor. I’m incapable of leaving the very person holding me captive. True, I’ve plotted my escape; Richard Branson’s Caribbean home, pre-fire of course, tops the list. But no one can help. Because they are captives too. This is upside down world where the 99 percent and the 1 percent live together simultaneously in harmony and in chaos.
I recognize the others when I am out during the day, it’s the only time of day I am typically released. I see their blood-shot, tired eyes and like myself, I see them traveling around town with their captors. It is rare to see a 99%er at night. We aren’t let out easily and truthfully, our eyes struggle to readjust in the darkness.
The working conditions of my oppressor are technically listed as a form of torture under the Geneva Convention. I googled it. She operates with the most criminally insane device: the unpredictable, the unknown. Could the day start at 3am? 4am? I don’t know. I start to believe that 5am would be a gift. And it’s not just when she wakes up, it’s her erratic behavior once she wakes up.
But I am not weak. I am not helpless. I know the 99 percent need to rise above. And in this twisted reality, the 99 percent are the ones who hold the keys to the front door, the car, the bank account, we know how to work the remote control. We provide the food and shelter to the one percenters. And yet we do not leave.
Ultimately, the question is simple: Why does a toddler abruptly go from sleeping through the night and waking after 6:30 to suddenly waking daily at 4:18 or 5:02 and then refusing to go back to sleep? And as anyone knows who has lived through this, an awake 3-year-old is an entirely different beast from a baby who wakes in the middle of the night for one simple reason: 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 that’s the catch, the rules change without warning under these working conditions. I was ambushed.
In my house, the upheaval began on a crisp fall day. And commenced what has turned out to be four consecutive months of torture. Though the question seems simple: why wake so early for no reason, unfortunately the answer remains deeply complex. The motivations of the one percent offer little understanding to us 99
percenters, though it is studied and evaluated in grave detail.
We wracked our sleep-deprived brains. Was it moving her to a big bed? Did she have to pee? Was she hungry? Is it her eczema? Wait wait, I know! Let’s buy
a bunny alarm clock that teaches her to stay in bed until the bunny wakes! Can an inanimate bunny teach this child something that I can’t? I
will pay anything if it is a magical bunny that can lure a toddler back to sleep. And when you are so tired, you start to believe it could happen.
How about taking away story time until she sleeps longer? How about no songs before bed? Maybe punishment will work because she loves those things. And
punishment can feel so good because it gives the false feeling of power. To the powerless.
But wait – don’t the “experts” say to reward good behavior.
Confusion is part of the torture.
So how about promising her candy if she stays in her room until the bunny wakes up? Will sugar only incentivize the already cruel tactics of this small dictator?
Do we negotiate with terrorists?
Doubt is part of the torture.
The truth is the 99 percent will negotiate and bribe with total disregard for future repercussions if it means sleeping until the sun comes up. Recall: we
believe in the possible power of a bunny alarm clock.
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 Newt Gingrich Except these kids don’t lie. They just don’t offer you any hint or help.
And then, one day, for me, it just ended. After four months of mind-numbing exhaustion, she just began sleeping until 6am. Back to wracking my brain for answers that will never come: Was it getting a bedtime snack? Was it going potty at 11pm? We will never know. But I am left with only the emotional scars and the fear of this: will it start again without warning or explanation? In the end, that bunny clock remains useless.
I offer you this tale as a warning and with sympathy, in case you, too, suffer from Stockholm Syndrome.
We are the 99% and so far – Occupy Parents is kicking my ass.
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