It’s not always easy
Let me give you an example. I’m writing up this tale after having put the kids to bed. J is out tonight, so I’ve been flying solo. This is normally not a problem, but things have been rather topsy-turvy lately. Professional and social obligations have kept her away more than usual, the kids have both been a little under the weather, and our regular routines have been pretty much tossed out the window.
So bedtime was kind of rough. Not for N, of course. He always goes right to sleep.
His big brother, however, really didn’t want to go to bed. He tried every trick in the book, and managed to stretch the whole process out for about 45 minutes. After I left his room, he tried shouting “Hey!” to get me back in. I went back in and told him to go to sleep and that if he yelled again, he’d be in trouble.
About five minutes later, he started a new one, saying very quietly “daddy, I love you. I love you, daddy. Daddy?” He kept this up for what seemed like 3 hours – but was probably only 5 minutes.
You’re probably thinking that I’m a cold-hearted jerk at this point. The thing to remember is that C knows his room has a baby monitor. He knows that we hear whatever he says. He’s playing to an audience.
After he gave up on the “I love you”’s, he moved on to “Momma? Where’s momma? Momma?”
He’s pretty congested. Interspersed among these pitiful little cries were sniffles and coughs. They really added to the effect.
After concluding that his “Momma” pleas weren’t working, he moved on to asking for water. “Daddy! I need a glass of water!” cough, cough, cough. “Please, daddy! Plea-ea-ease?”
At least this one was easier to ignore.
He switched back to the daddy strategy after that: “Daddy, where are you daddy? Daddy, aren’t you there? Daddy? Daddy? I miss you daddy.”
Did I mention it’s not always easy? It gets worse.
After all that, he called out “Daddy, I need a tissue! I need a tissue, daddy!”
This one I couldn’t ignore. We’ve been trying to teach him to blow his nose, and to ask for a tissue whenever he needs one. I grabbed a couple kleenex and a cup of water and went in. After he blew his nose, he asked for a drink of water “to make his nose feel better”. I handed him the cup.
He laid back down and finally went to sleep.
How long did all this last? I first put him in bed at 8, and I looked at the clock as I was closing his door this last time. It was 9:45.
So, why is “daddy I need a tissue” worse than everything that came before? To put it simply, because I lost. This whole little emotional roller coaster was, in fact, a contest. He was trying to force me to come into his room. I was trying not to. If I was going to go in, I should have gone in at the first “daddy, I love you.”
I feel like the fish that fought the hook for an hour, but still ended up flopping around in the bottom of the boat.