Friday, January 7, 2011

Potty Times, Nap Times...Good Times

Every day, at least six times a day, I hear my preschooler bellow through the house in a most obnoxious way.

"I'M DOOOONE!" she hollers.

She's in the bathroom, and it is never a convenient moment. "Of course you are," I mumble under my breath before yelling back, "I'LL BE THERE IN A MINUTE! I'm in the middle of something here!"

And it's true. I am always in the middle of changing a diaper, fixing a meal, switching laundry, loading dishes, or feeding a baby. Eventually, I must suspend my work, however, and trudge down the hall to take care of her Royal Princess of the Porcelain Palace.

And my littlest, Danny Sammy, won't sleep like he should right now. According to pediatric sleep experts, he is supposed to need 14 hours of sleep, more than half of the 24 hours in a day. Hah! I am convinced this is a fib invented by pediatricians to keep us desperate for their advice. It is a fib just slightly better than the one circulated by doctors about potty training: the one in which they tell you to simply put your toddler or preschooler in a T-shirt and cotton underpants and let them rove your home diaper-free while giving them only water to drink. Your child will have a few accidents (just a few) before figuring out that they really don't like being wet, and the kid will use the potty henceforth (at which point rainbows should magically appear in your home while Beethoven's Fifth Symphony plays).

Let me tell you what really happens, because I've tried this "shotgun" method on three different children, and baby, it backfires. You put your kid in the shirt and special underpants, you give them water even though they're whining for juice, and then you watch and wait for them to cry about being wet. After about an hour, you start splashing through the puddles. That's right. Because they could care less that they're pee-peeing all over the house like miscreant little puppies. I tried this method for two days straight with my oldest, and I cleaned up roughly enough pee-pee to start a koi pond in the backyard.

And the sleep myth is just the same. Has to be, because if babies really needed that much sleep...I mean if they really did...wouldn't they be fact, begging to go down for nap/bedtime? Getting you up four to six times a night, wouldn't they just nurse or take the bottle, touch your face and hair and then go peacefully back in their cribs as if to say, Just checking to make sure you're still here Mama. But this is not the way it is for me and my Danny Sammy. He wakes up, has his nurse, pops off in irritation and begins to behave like the Incredible Hulk - arcing his back, thrashing his arms around and growling deep in his throat as if he were going to suddenly burst out of his footie sleeper and start sporting green skin before jumping through the window to go rip a neighbor's car apart. He behaves like this for well over an hour every night while I attempt to bounce, rock, nurse or lie down with him.

And nap times. Huh. Well, I could get him down for a decent nap, I suppose, if I could suspend all sudden noise in our home and had a soundproof plexiglass box in which to put my preschooler with rations of juice and crackers and enough finger paint and play dough to keep her amused for two hours. But these things are impossible...unless you know where I can find a child-friendly plexiglass box? (No? Well, I was just kidding!) And no matter what I do for Ella Belle - turn on the television, give her cookies and muffins, provide her with pounds of play dough or modeling clay, she will without a doubt end up in the hall outside Danny Sam's room with boredom on her mind and a smirk on her face as she slowly increases the amount of noise she's making. I stare pointedly at her and push my finger hard against my mouth, trying my darndest to channel enough miming energy to drive her from the vicinity of the designated baby nap area, but I'm helpless to stop the inevitable. If I yell at her to go away or be quiet, I'll be disturbing Danny Sam myself and only feel more angst-ridden when he aborts his nurse and twists his head with wide-open eyes to examine the activities of big sister.

I know I'm supposed to thank God for the precious time I get to spend with my little ones, and I do! I do! I do! I do! I doooo! Even when I'm trying to push my fingers through my eyelids in frustration. But sometimes a stay-at-home Mom lives on the edge - the edge of sanity, that is. For instance, when, after many minutes of orchestrating ridiculous maneuvers and making plenty of goofy noises and faces, you find yourself pointing at your baby and cackling because you managed to trick him into taking a bite of baby food, know the pressure has gotten to you, my friend.

But, thank God, it's worth it. It's worth it when your baby crawls up to you as you're sitting on the ground and lays his head on your lap and smiles. It's worth it when, after months of jealousy and insecurity in relation to baby Danny, Ella makes her little brother giggle in the car on the way home and then says confidently, "Mama, Daniel's my friend."

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