the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Poker face

My friend called yesterday in a mild panic to tell me that her daughter who is two days older than Leta had figured out how to climb out of her crib. She and I read the same children’s sleep book, and I asked her if she had gone back to see what it said about situations like this. She said the advice was a little crazy, that she should lock the door and if the kid gets out of the crib to let her fall asleep on the floor. And also? That she shouldn’t worry if the kid falls while hoisting her body over the railing because the risk of injury is negligible. A scientific expert is suggesting that babies can bounce.

I don’t remember that chapter of the book, but it doesn’t really matter because I’m ignoring the possibility that Leta will ever need to sleep in a bed without bars. However, I’m afraid that if we don’t transition her from the crib into a regular bed soon that we will be facing a battle we could have otherwise avoided. A few months ago we began putting Leta into two-minute time-outs in a small chair against a wall in the living room. I was worried, knowing very well the magnitude of her will in the past (see: that one time she went 30 hours without eating just to prove a point), that she would realize that she could just get up out of the chair and walk away. And the first time we did it she did exactly that, hopped out of the chair, walked over to the book she had thrown across the room, picked it up and looked at me like, do you have any other orders that I can willfully disregard?

I put her right back in the chair, though, and continued to do so when she got up for a second and third time. It was after the third time that her lip began quivering with the realization that, oh my god, this woman is serious, life is a prison. Since that first episode she has never moved an inch when we put her into a time-out, and afterward she won’t even look in the direction of whatever it is that got her in trouble in the first place. She is very much like Chuck this way, and whenever we find a stuffed animal with a missing limb — a duck with no beak, a bunny with no cotton tail, an octopus with only three remaining tentacles — all we have to do is show it to him and he will incriminate himself by collapsing on the floor with his ears glued to the back of his head, his eyes darting wildly around the room to look at something, anything other than the amputee, his entire body full of dread that I will put that toy on his head and take a picture of it to show thousands of people.

I like to believe that we got in our bluff early with Leta, and that maybe if we put her into a regular bed soon she will remain in it until we give her an indication that it’s okay to get out. Not likely, I know, and it will require a bit of work on our part, but she is taking our disciplinary routine so seriously that yesterday she put the cow figurine from Noah’s Ark into a time-out on Elmo’s potty.

“TWO MINUTES!” she screamed while pointing an angry finger into the cow’s face. “SIT THERE FOR TWO MINUTES!”

Those delinquent, biblical cows are always causing trouble.

It didn’t move, of course, and she stood a few feet away with her arms crossed over her chest knowing that it had to stay put because she said so. I think I have just pulled off the ultimate parental coup in that my child now believes that BECAUSE I SAID SO requires no further explanation.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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