Last week, Sunny’s teacher sent us an e-mail saying that our darling was refusing—at high volume—to do her work in class because she was “too tired,” and had been held in from recess for several days in a row to complete her assignments, which she said she didn’t mind, because again, “too tired.”
Was this something that we’d experienced at home?
While some of this is a I-Hate-Homework phase she learned from her older sister, it didn’t much surprise us that Sunny was tired during the day because she is a determined little night owl who believe with all her heart that naps are for babies.
We could make her go to bed on time. We could even cajole/bribe/threaten her into staying in her own bed all night, with limited success.
But we couldn’t get her to drop off before ten p.m.
There were subtle signs that this wasn’t the ideal situation, and most of those can be described as three-hour, epic, screaming, weekend meltdowns, often triggered by asking her to do some terrible, overwhelming task, like moving her socks from the living room floor to the hamper in her bedroom, setting the table, or putting on her own shoes.
I e-mailed the teacher to tell her that we were all in the same boat, but that we would be taking steps to get Sunny to settle down at a more reasonable hour and see if that helped.
And then I dusted off my parenting books, perused some parenting blogs and found us some steps.
So, Sunny now has an earlier bedtime—something that tickles her older sister no end—and a Bedtime Song, which she chose herself, because empowering your children this way means they won’t have an excuse to stay up for forty minutes complaining about it.
If you’d told me before I had kids that I would eventually allow one of them to pick a bedtime song by a group called the Bare Naked Ladies . . . okay, yeah, I would have been fine with that, because I’ve always liked them, but my point is, I’d probably be okay with a song by the Sadistic Cannibal Hippo Warts as long as it was guaranteed to put her to—no, let’s rephrase that—soothe her to sleep within twenty minutes.
But since guilt is not something I actually enjoy, I’m glad she chose this one:
We’re currently playing it over and over and dear God over on my laptop*—with the door closed so Mommy doesn’t drop where she stands by the third repetition––until Sunny’s asleep, or at least too far gone to object to us turning it off. Over the past four nights,** it’s taken less and less time to get her there and eventually, we hope to be able to play it once or twice with the same effect.
I also thought I’d make her a special sleep blanket, because it wouldn’t hurt to have another signal that it’s time she started peddling the ol’ REM cycle, plus fleece was on sale at the fabric store. So we went and looked at a display full of pastel bolts with sheep and flowers and cuddly pandas and sleepy kittens.
Naturally, she bypassed them all and went straight for this:
It just screams sleep, doesn’t it? But that’s what she wanted, empowering kids is important (see above), and it was less than three bucks a yard. So I caved.***
The woman who measured out two yards of the stuff for us told me that her daughter would love a throw like this for her college dorm room. I replied that it was supposed to be a nap blanket for my six-year old, and she grinned said her daughter would probably appreciate that, too.
We had a discussion about tying the edges versus hemming them—I was all for tying, since tying means cutting a fringe and, well, tying it, while hemming would mean pinning every few inches and dragging out the sewing machine and buying pink thread and unraveling a bobbin and filling a bobbin and paying attention to what I was doing, and one of the best things about fleece is that hemming is optional.
And then Sunny bounced up with matching two-inch ribbon . . .
So I spent the afternoon ironing lengths of the ribbon in half with my hair straightening wand and folding it around the raw ends of the fleece and jabbing myself with pins and sewing it down as a sort of ruffle for added texture^ and trying not to go blind.
And then I had a short nap.
When I woke up, I did a kid count and found Sunny in her bed, warm in her new bright pink, tiger-striped cocoon, letting the geese take her away . . .
*I have (legally) downloaded backups of this song on every electronic device we own, possibly including the TV remote.
**Although the second night, I went in to check on her and she sat up and said, “Mommy! It’s played seven times!” I know, honey. Head on your pillow, please.
***I sometimes wonder how many posts one can pull up on this blog using that sentence in a search, or what the number would say about my parenting style. Never mind.
^And because I couldn’t be fussed to make sure the ribbon edges lined up perfectly. But it turned out like I did it on purpose, so as far as anyone who doesn’t read this blog knows, I did.