Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Oh $#!* Moment

The first time I held Westley, I knew that he was the only thing that would ever be able to really scare me would be my child. Life could deal me a nerve-wracking hand, but he would do the things that would make me feel truly paralyzed with deep, heart-stopping dread: the oh shit moment.
Westley has given me a couple of true oh shit moments since his birth: the day he tumbled into my parents' coffee table and cutting his forehead dangerously close to his eye comes to mind. But I'd never experienced a full-body sinking feeling like I did a few nights ago, when, while sitting quietly in the living room after putting Westley down in his crib, I heard his bedroom door rattle open.

Westley ran down the hall in his footy pajamas and into the living room, stopping to do a little happy-dance in the middle of the rug. Rob and I gaped at our son, and then at each other. I felt my chest tighten. He's wide-awake...and out of his bed.

Westley can climb out of his crib.

(Oh, shit. Oh shitshitshit-motherfuckingshit-fuckfuck-shit.)

This was not an oh shit moment I was expecting to have. Falls? Of course. Repeating words I didn't especially want him to say? That I'd considered. But a two-year-old who is tall enough and strong enough to climb out of his crib unassisted? I'm completely unprepared to deal with this and freaked out.

Of course, there's nothing we can do to keep him in his crib that doesn't involve chicken wire or strapping him down. The already-difficult nighttime routine hasn't been the same since he discovered this new "trick." And I'm at the end of my rope.

Never gonna sleep again / Gifted climber won't be "cribbin'"

Last night, Westley must have climbed out of his crib ten times--at least!--and each time I put him back without discussion apart from a gentle, "No. It's time to sleep, Westley." I tucked him in and left. I held him and rocked him. I stayed and pretended to sleep on the floor next to him. I sang to him. And each time, after I left, he climbed out of his bed.

Finally, I surrendered. I put him in his crib, tucked him in, and sat down in the chair next to his bed. Rob sat on the floor with the kitty. I rooted myself to the chair, determined to sit there all night if I had to. I sang every song I could think of that was even vaguely lullaby-like. Somehow I settled into singing protest songs from the '60s, the only music I heard as a child.

Westley had been quiet and still for a while before Rob and I told him again that we loved him, wished him sweet dreams, and left the room. In the kitchen, we strained to hear: cries of "Mom-mee, mom-mee," the thump of his feet hitting the floor, his little hands fiddling with the doorknob.

The house was silent. Rob took a bottle of pinot and two glasses to the living room.

We sank into the couch...two and a half hours after first telling our son good-night.

Since Westley discovered that he can get out of his crib, bedtime has been a nightmare. Last night was the apotheosis of oh shit. I did everything I know how to do. I somehow managed to stay calm, but nothing I tried seemed to help my little boy. And I'm already feeling waves of oh shit thinking about bedtime tonight. All I can do is tie a knot in the end of my rope and hang on.



allieinsavannah said...

A family I nannied for in Chicago experienced the same thing with their 2 1/2 year old. She was so fast and tricky and they were not getting any sleep! They finally purchased a crib tent and it worked like a charm. Made her feel like she was camping and also kept her in her crib because she couldn't figure out how to unzip it. They could finally sleep through the night!!.....

Stesha said...

Now that's one "Oh Shit" moment I'm not looking forward to. We've already discovered that BOTH of our twins can crawl up the stairs. That's an "Oh Shit" and "Watch them like a damn hawk" moment!

Hugs and Mocha,

Jennifer said...

I agree with Allie...I've heard good things about crib tents. Seems like a cruel thing but actually works. The other bit of advice I've heard is just to put the matress on the floor and baby gate the doorway (with 2 stacked gates if necessary). Just turn his room into a crib and let him figure it out. Eventually he'll fall asleep. Right? :) Haha, you know this Mama-gig throws us for a loop every few weeks...just when we think we are on top of our game. Good luck! I dread the day...