Bedtime tonight for the little dude did not go well. We made exactly the same mistake as I made yesterday – letting him get overtired. His naps at creche are always shorter than his naps at home, so he needs an earlier bedtime. On Wednesday and Thursday he was home with me and had great naps (yay) and this meant he got more time to play with his dad in the evening. We sort of forgot we needed to vary that tonight. So the little dude was overtired by bedtime, and also after a day of creche he didn’t want to go to bed, he wanted to stay up and hang with us. I left him protesting in his room to focus on other needs, just like with yesterday’s nap.
Aside: leaving a baby to cry himself to sleep felt so wrong to me, but leaving a two year old to call out “mummy dtome back one more dsing dsong bfor me one more dsing dsong mummy dsing one day a taniwha dsong mummy dtome baaaaaacccckkkkkk, mummmyyyyyyy, mummyyyyyyy, mummmmyyyy” feels different. I kinda want to go back in, especially when he stops calling out and starts grizzling or crying, but I don’t feel like I have to or like he needs me to. If there was no other stuff to do I’d sing endless songs, I’d lie down with him in his bed and stroke his hair until he fell asleep, like I do if he wakes in the night with a bad dream. It’s nice doing that. But there is other stuff to do – if only cuddling bub to sleep so that Mr Daddy had hands free to make dinner for us. And the little dude is old enough now to understand me when I say that it’s time for sleep , it’s not time for more song or stories. If he’s dissatisfied with that situation and responds by grump-crying, well, not such a bad thing for him to learn that sometimes he can’t get what he wants?
Anyway, I did feel bad though because it sucks as a parent when you make a wrong move and the kid plays up, and then you respond by being firm and kid gets upset, but if you’d lined it up better, kid would have been fine. Last night my mum was here when Mr Daddy got home, and he started out on an adult conversation about the working day and the little dude said “Nana byebye” – a clear signal he wanted his dad’s focus. My husband and mum kept talking for a while longer, and the little dude came up to me and hit bub on the head while bub was feeding. Mr Daddy immediately put the little dude in time out. But the trigger for the hitting bub was crystal clear, he expected attention when his dad got home and didn’t get it.
I’m not sure if my mind endorses my feeling bad in these situations or not. On a practical level, I like to set things up to avoid triggers for an upset because that makes my day nicer. But in terms of raising a kid who can get on well in the world, they do have to learn to cope with stressful situations without losing it, so maybe it’s fine that sometimes they have those experiences, even when they’re little. Or do I think that he’s too little to learn coping skills from negative experiences, such that it would be better if we never dropped the ball on the tired/hungry/hot/cold/overwhelmed/need attention signals? I dunno. Hopefully trying to pre-empt the meltdowns as far as possible but keeping calm and carrying on when things go pear shaped is a good mid-point.
Also, tonight, before the bedtime wrangle, it was the best. Bub was asleep when Mr Daddy first got home, and so the little dude got a nice bit of time with both parents. We played with his blocks, building towers for him to knock over. Then bub woke up as the bath was running, and after a feed I took bub into the bathroom and the little dude said “Benman dget in bath wif me and wif Daddy too?” so I got bub naked and his dad held him in the water for a while and I gave the little dude some cotton wool and said he could help wash B’s legs, and he did, and it was gorgeous (until little dude tipped out his watering can on bub’s neck, causing a lot of face splash, but that wasn’t ill-intentioned). I’m glad we got the blocks and the bath, it was so cosy and perfect, even if both those things delayed bedtime and contributed to the upset later.