Tuesday, January 21, 2014
The One Thing All Parents Can Count On
This went on for months. I'm not kidding. Months! Everyone kept saying it was a phase and it would pass, but I always thought a phase lasted, I don't know, a couple of weeks. We tried reasoning with them. We tried bribing them. I yelled...a lot. One afternoon, I even ended up on the floor in tears after I ran in to find them peeing off the side of their cribs onto the carpet, their discarded poop diapers smeared on their sheets. Again, not kidding.
Ultimately, we discovered that nothing was really going to get through to our (then) 19-month-olds, so we resorted to duct tape. Yes, duct tape. We literally sealed their diapers on before naps and bedtime. We even turned their pajamas backwards so they couldn't unzip them. They tried, oh, they tried to Houdini their way out, but ultimately realized their arms weren't long enough...and that they were no match for industrial adhesive. Soon after, they just lost interest. Just like that--their nudist naptime antics had finally come to an end.
Or, at least, that brand of antics. A couple of months ago, out of nowhere, my boys climbed out of their cribs. They did it several times in a row until one boy wound up on the floor screaming, "My back, ouch, my back." I would have kept them in cribs until, say, college, but with a risk of bodily injury, clearly our days of containment were over. So, now we were dealing with a whole new kind of crazy at naptime. After ripping the baby monitors off the wall, breaking a lamp, pulling knobs off of their dresser, and knocking over their nightstand, we realized we basically had to strip that room down to nothing. Of course, they still seem to find ways to create mischief--somehow pulling clothes out of their child-locked dresser, scaling said-dresser, climbing on top of the couch to reach stuffed animals on a very high shelf. And since they trashed the baby monitor, I have no way of knowing exactly how they're making all of this happen. Unless they're magic babies. Maybe they're magic babies.
Anyway, I thought this would be yet another phase. Maybe it would take, oh, a few weeks for the novelty to die down. But no, not really. Now with damn near nothing in that room to hold their interest, they're making up games to play during naptime. They run from one end of the room to the other. They jump on the couch to hide from dragons. They lift up the shades and say hi to people walking by. For a period of time, they were ultimately falling asleep...it just took about forty-five minutes. I'd find them crashed out like drunken frat boys, one kid face down on a chair with his feet hanging off of the side, the other on the floor, his giant stuffed gorilla pulled on top of him. When I would get them up, I almost wanted to go in like some Mommy cop, shining a flashlight in their faces, nudging them with my toe, "Soooomeone had a rough afternoon, huh? Maybe if you'd gone to sleep when you were supposed to instead of running around like a coupla hooligans."
We were away for the holidays and between the time change, all of the excitement, and a new room to destroy like rock stars, their naps just completely disappeared. For two weeks, I tried to put them down. I went in there and scolded and threatened until I just gave up on their naps altogether. Were they done with naps for good? Was this the end of that two-hour afternoon break for both boys and me? Noooooooooo, I mentally screamed. Once we got home, things went back to normal for, hmmm, maybe a split second and then, just like that, went all screwy again. I'm afraid to admit it, but I think our days of naptime bliss may be coming to an end.
Way back when they were babies, I remember sitting in a Mommy and Me class, full of exhausted new moms consistently confused about sleep and eating and desperate to know, "What happened? What now? How do I get baby to eat more, sleep more, cry less? When can we have that secret code that'll help us figure out these damn infants? Because you know that we know that you know it, oh wise Mommy teacher." Week after week, we came at her with questions, wanting to know, exactly, exactly what to do.
Then, one day, she told us the secret code: The one thing you can count on with kids is that you can't count on anything. It all keeps changing and once you think you've figured it out, they throw everything out of whack again. Sometimes it goes back to normal, sometimes it's a new normal, but the changes will keep coming.
These last couple of months, I've tried to keep those wise words in mind, just as I did last year when I was buying duct tape and carpet cleaner in bulk. With toddlers, everything is a phase and we as parents are powerless to their continuous evolution. Their habits are always in flux--nothing is forever, good or bad. Either way, we have no choice but to just keep rolling with the punches, take some deep breaths and adapt. I have no idea what's next with my mischievous little angels, and I'm pretty sure I won't really be prepared. Sure, it would be nice to have all of the answers, but as any seasoned parent will probably tell you, "Hahahahahahahaha."