As My Lovely Wife and I try to sleep, our fitful dreams are ruined by either piercing screams or the sense of no longer being alone in our sacred bed chamber.
Jellybean walks among us, and she will not rest until everyone is awake.
I was against the idea from the start, of converting Jellybean’s crib into a Big Girl Bed. When you’ve got a child who’s already mastered the art of opening doors and flipping on light switches, why give her any more freedom than necessary? Keep her in the cage – I mean, the crib.
Jellybean has always been a good sleeper – mainly because she couldn’t get out of bed. But now all that’s changed, and I’m growing grumpier by the day because of it.
The first few nights were easy. Jellybean was so excited to hop into her Big Girl Bed and snuggle under her covers with an army of baby dolls that the thought of getting up never crossed her mind. But it wasn’t two nights later, after patting ourselves on the back for the successful transition, that My Lovely Wife and I were torn from sleep by a screaming child.
We were up and sprinting toward the living room before the sheets hit the mattress. Terrified that Jellybean had been caught in a bear trap or was being devoured by the Boogie Man, instead we found her standing in front of her closed bedroom door, sobbing.
“What’s the matter?” My Lovely Wife asked, still breathing hard.
“My blanket’s stuck in the door,” Jellybean answered. “I don’t wanna sleep anymore.”
And that was just the beginning. The next week was pretty much the same. If it wasn’t the high-pitched shrieking, Jellybean would just waddle into the bedroom and stare at us until one of us awoke and ushered her back to bed.
Every night, I half expect to wake up to Jellybean writing “REDRUM” in Crayon while brandishing a butcher knife. Like I don’t have enough Stephen King-inspired nightmares as it is.
But who could blame her? We started this transition when the time changed. She’s used to going to bed when it’s dark and getting up when it’s dark. No wonder she’s confused.
So we came up with a little mantra: “When the 8 becomes a 6.”
It’s what we say just before putting little Jellybean in bed (the first time). After reading a series of books and singing this infuriating lullaby My Lovely Wife invented, we point to the digital clock on her bookshelf and say, “When the 8 becomes a 6, that’s when you can get out of bed and come in Mommy and Daddy’s room.”
Brilliant. It worked. For about a week.
Now, Jellybean gets up when the 8 is a 12, when the 8 is a 2, when the 8 is a 4 but rarely waits until the 8 is a 6. It’s like having a newborn all over again, but at least you can ignore a newborn, believing they’ll eventually put themselves back to sleep.
Not so much with a toddler who not only knows how to walk and talk but can also poke you in the eye whenever you pretend she’s a figment in a dream and refuse to acknowledge her presence.
I’m trying to be patient. I’m trying to be understanding. But I’m too dang tired to be rational. If I don’t get a good night’s sleep soon, I’ll be the one carving creepy messages in Crayon.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.