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Thursday, 16 February 2012

About last night

The dishwasher vomits out its Finish tablet and I listen to it swishing into full flow for a few moments before I realise that the yelling, crying, 'La La'* and gentle sobbing from upstairs has finally stopped. I wonder whether she's exhausted herself or just given up. My shoulders relax.

I hate leaving her to cry. It's a last resort. But when a regular as clockwork 7pm bedtime becomes a two and a half hour marathon of delay tactics and me ping-ponging up and down the stairs the only option is to use actions that explain the words she can't take in - I love you but I'm not coming back upstairs this time. Go to sleep.

It's out of character, this night time dance. DD's usually such a good sleeper. Twelve hours at least. But wait, before you scoff, it wasn't always like this. She didn't really sleep much at all for the first six months. OH and I wore a groove in the floor and lost our voices from singing 'Row your boat' over and over and over again. In the end sheer lack of sleep was seriously affecting our sanity so we held our breaths (and held hands) and left her to cry it out. After the first few truly awful, upsetting, painful nights listening with our ears pressed at the door, she got it. It was like she'd been waiting for this moment.

'Oh, ok, so you're not coming back in no matter how much I yell? I may as well go to sleep then. Yawn...zzzz'

She was like a new baby. And after months of little or no sleep we were like new parents. Sanity was restored. We remembered how to smile.

So why has the sleep thief reappeared now? DD's not obviously scared of anything, or sick, or too hot, or too cold, or too anything. Is it this week's commando training? And by 'commando' I mean sans nappy? It's certainly true that with potty training a la Gina Ford in full swing my new little big girl is delicately balanced between clinging limpet-like to my hip and wanting nothing to do with me. Things are going well so far, I think. There are lots of ticks in the right boxes and thankfully we chose a forgiving carpet colour for the 'other' boxes. It's too soon to blow any sort of trumpet and I'm not ordering the balloon release until at least next week, but I'm still so proud of my little miss. She's growing up. But perhaps more than learning where and when to 'go', that's the really hard part for her? Perhaps that's the part that's making her refuse to enter the land of nod.

Tonight as I pad upstairs trying (and failing) to avoid the creaking floor boards as usual, I don't have the answers. I'm just drawn back to those early months, tasting my guilt as I listen at the door, hearing the gentle snorting snores and wishing my darling daughter a peaceful sleep full of magical dreams.

(* DD is convinced we're all Teletubbies. She's cast herself as Po, I'm La La, OH is Tinkywinky and various soft toys play the part of Dipsy according to their availability. It's a veritable pantomime over here.)

Image: Boaz Yiftach /


  1. ! My princess is three and a half and still goes through cycles of good and bad sleep routines- we are also in a 'bad' right now!

    You've probably hit the nil on the head- potty training.

    On a seperate note well done for sticking with it and holding to your guns, it'll be worth it!!!

  2. Oh *hug*s to you both!

    I wimped out on the crying it out stage, and used to sit in his room and read.  He used to get one story, then that was it, no eye contact or talking, just me sitting and reading.  I read an awful lot of books!

    She'll get it though.  Growing up and taking responsibility for your own self and realising you are not connected to the amazing mummy creature is a startling thing, I am sure of it!

  3. Thanks Sarah, it's hard when they regress a bit but I know it's one step back and two forward :-)

  4. Feeling your pain / tiredness!  Remembering controlled crying (the 2 and half hour mark often reached) battled through night-terrors (got punched in the face, bloodied nose, wouldn't have though a two-year old could do that!) and then years of changing wet bed clothes (came to an end with medication and a VERY loud alarm thanks to the child incontinence team)...and now have a gorgeous nine year old who needs less sleep than me.  Praise God he loves reading!  I did the book thing that Sarah Cook did too, with a cuppa, and I quite enjoyed that, it was a bit of me time.

  5. Oh my goodness Emma I've got it easy so far clearly!