For those of you who haven’t seen the giant bags under my eyes and the giant yawns that happen throughout the day, you might not know how insanely tired I am. You might not be aware that, since August 2014, Matt and I have alternated nights putting Noah to bed which consists of multiple elaborate steps involving anywhere from 5 to 10 readings of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, a wide variety of requests for different (and very specific) toys located throughout the house, different beverages and snacks, and numerous trips to the bathroom where he may or may not need to pee.
Early on in this “adventure,” Matt and I both were able to outlast the kid and tip-toe out of his room some time before midnight (only to be beckoned back at 2:30am on the nose every time because he woke up in a panic because we weren’t there). We would end up going back in there and, instead of trying to figure out how to get him back to sleep and sneak out again, it just became easier to curl up and try to get at least a few more hours of sleep. As the months went by and nothing we tried worked, eventually the lack of sleep prevailed and we didn’t even try to get him to sleep in his room alone. We even moved a second mattress in so that we didn’t have to share a single twin bed with a twisty and wiggly 3 year old.
For the past 7 months, Matt and I have pretty much been working on auto-pilot because we have been so sleep-deprived. We snap at people and at each other over silly issues. Instead of talking to each other when we do have a moment alone (which is rare) we totally zone out and use as little energy as possible. And on the random nights when we could have probably convinced Noah to sleep in his room by himself, we were just too tired to even try to figure out how to go about doing something different so we just figured out whose turn it was and said goodnight.
Then one day, I got a call from a friend saying that she was getting rid of a really nice twin bed frame and she wanted to know if I wanted it for Noah. [We tried the whole twin bed frame thing in September but it was my bed frame from childhood- which was metal. Noah spent all night getting up and rummaging for toys to bang against it to see what kind of noise it made. That bed frame went back into storage with a quickness and we just put the box spring and mattress on the floor.]
We brought the bed frame home from my friend’s house and showed it to Noah.
Noah: “Mommy, I love it!!”
Me: “Do you know what this is?”
Noah: “Yeah, it’s a big boy bed!”
Me: “And, did you know that big boys who sleep in big boy beds sleep in their room by themselves?”
Noah: “Well, let’s just leave it in the garage then. I’m still little.”
So, all of the wind was knocked out of my sails until one day that same week, Noah started asking for a unicorn. Out of nowhere, he began asking us to get him a toy unicorn 3 or 4 times a day. I don’t know where this request came from but he wouldn’t give it up. So, because (as noted earlier) I am exhausted, I went out to the fancy toy store and bought a really cool unicorn figurine. I brought it home and, instead of giving it to him, I tucked it away with a plan.
The next morning:
Noah: “Hey mommy. Can I have a unicorn?”
Me: “You know, big boys who sleep in their rooms by themselves get unicorns.”
Matt: “Oh yeah! I heard that too. Don’t you have a big boy bed in the garage?”
Noah: [In a very whiney voice.] “Yeah. But I think regular boys get unicorns too.”
Well, we kept this conversation going for several days until Saturday rolled around. We put the bed together and let Noah use the allen wrench to tighten the screws. We didn’t let him take a nap so that he would be extra sleepy at bedtime. And, when bedtime approached, we made our way up to the big boy bed. We read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, had a few snacks and some milk, and, before I knew it, he was asleep.
I snuck out of the room more slowly than I have ever snuck before. I dared not to even tell Matt that Noah was asleep because I didn’t want to jinx it. We looked at each other with all of the passion and excitement of newlyweds. And then we immediately curled up in bed and got the best night sleep EVER!
The next morning, the first words that Noah said when he woke up were, “Can I have my unicorn now?” I have never been so excited to give someone a toy in all my life. The next night, it took a little more convincing but, eventually, he was sound asleep in his big boy bed and I was able to sneak out. This morning, Matt looked at me and said, “Do you realize this is the first time we have slept in the same bed for 2 consecutive nights?” In a really sad and desperate way, that is the sexiest thing he has said to me in 7 months. Cross your fingers for us.
There must be a small alarm that goes off inside 2 year olds a few months before they turn 3. I am pretty sure that this alarm sends some kind of signal to the brain that says, “Hey you! Figure out everything you can possibly do to be an asshole today!” Noah’s alarm went off yesterday.
Yesterday morning started off like every other morning. We got Noah up, got him dressed, he wasn’t really in the mood to eat his usual breakfast so I decided to treat him to a mommy-son breakfast date at Chic-fil-a. They even gave him a balloon because he was being so sweet. We get to pre-school and I discover that Tuesday is “Water Play Day” and of course, I forgot to put him in his bathing suit. No big deal. He has extra clothes. He can just get wet. No harm, no foul.
I go to work. It is an incredibly long day (one of those no-time-for-lunch-because-everyone-has-a-crisis-that-only-you-can-solve kind of days). I am actually really excited to pick Noah up from school because I know he will be excited to see me.
When I get to school, Noah is beaming with cuteness, dancing around and showing me all of the cool stuff he did that day. His teacher tells me that tomorrow is “Decorate a T-Shirt Day” and reminds me that I need to bring in a plain white t-shirt. Well, I already feel like a crappy mother after forgetting the bathing suit this morning so I say, “Oh yeah! I got one the other day for him.”
Of course I did not get him a plain white t-shirt. What the hell is “Decorate a T-Shirt Day” anyway?
Regardless… When I get to the car, I ask Noah if he wants to go to Old Navy and get a t-shirt. He is very excited about it and is even more excited when we get to the car and he sees his red Chic-fil-a balloon from this morning. We get to Old Navy, he turns on the charm. He is talking to people, asking really cute questions, just hamming it up. We go to check out and, while I am paying, he sees a big basket of red, white, and blue soccer balls in a clearance bin at the front of the store.
Noah: “Hey mom! Can I have a soccer ball?”
Me: “No babe. I already paid. You have a soccer ball at home you can play with.”
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! 3-year-old asshole alarm goes off.
Noah screams at the top of his lungs. He throws his body on the floor. He kicks and yells, “I don’t want to go home! I don’t like you! I want a soccer ball!”
There is a line of people staring and judging. Now, I am the mother that forgot the bathing suit for water play, had to buy the plain white t-shirt last minute, and I am letting my child writhe around on the floor of Old Navy all in a span of less than 12 hours.
I take a deep breath. I decide I am not going to speak. But I am going to take control.
I throw my purse over my shoulder. I pick him up in a way that one might carry a large pile of lumber, and I walk calmly out of the store. Meanwhile, Noah is kicking me in the ribs, pulling my hair, slapping every bit of me that he can reach, and continuing to scream “I don’t want to go home! I don’t like you!”
In the parking lot, he kicks his shoes off right in front of a very large pick-up truck. I manage to shift Noah to one side like a swing dancer where his knees are bent over my right arm and his head and hands are dangling free. I pick up the shoes, wave an apology to the pick-up truck driver, and swing him back up like a pile of lumber.
I have to force him in to the car seat while he slaps my face and pulls my hair (still screaming mean things to me the whole time). I get in to the driver’s seat and pull out of the parking lot. The entire drive home he kicks the back of my seat (now he is screaming, “I don’t want to be in the car! I don’t like your car mommy!”) and he decides he wants to try and escape. He grabs the door handle and pulls it over and over again until I think it is going to break off (thank goodness for child-locks!).
I finally speak and tell him, in a very calm voice, that he is not allowed to pull the door handle because it might break. Well this pisses him off even more. Now, he’s going to pull out the big guns. He starts biting his arms as hard as he can and then screaming about how much his arms hurt.
[No, I will not crack.]
We finally get home, I pull into the driveway, I unbuckle his car seat and he refuses to get out of the car. Fine. I leave the door open and I check the mail, put the garbage cans away, put my bags in the garage, and straighten up a bit. I look back at the car and he is struggling to try and get out of his car seat by himself (it was actually kind of funny to watch).
I finally do the countdown. “I am going to count to 5. If I get to 5 and you are not out of the car, I am going to drag you out of the car and you get no TV tonight.” I can see his wheels turning. He’s trying to decide if he wants to call my bluff. He decides. He chose poorly.
I count all the way to 5 (hoping and praying that he gives in because I really do not want to deal with an asshole who can’t watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates. It’s been too long of a day). I grab him up, take him inside, kicking and screaming.
He spends the next 30 minutes in the laundry room. Every few seconds, he opens the door, throws something at me, and then slams the door 3 or 4 times to prove his point. Then, the noise stops. I get nervous because screaming is usually always better than silence in the case of a 2-year-old. He comes out of the laundry room and, in his sweetest voice says, “Mommy, I need to poop.”
Now, I’m his best friend.