Saturday, September 27, 2008

Who did I torture in a past life?

I'm just curious. Because some sort of cosmic pay-back is the only way I can explain having given birth to a child whose sleeping patterns have spent the past two and a half years taking a decade off of my life.

Since we traveled to L.A. in April prior to moving here, Ethan's bedtime had gotten progressively later and later. We assumed it was because when he was out here, he was going to bed three hours later than at home and his body just had just acclimated to it. So when we got back to Virginia, bedtime was closer to 10-10:30pm than we'd have liked it. We comforted ourself with the cautious optimism that when we moved to Los Angeles, that inner-clock would prevail and his bedtime would naturally adjust to 7-7:30pm.

Think of the hours of Husband and Sarah time! An Ethan asleep before 8 o'clock could mean up to THREE hours of uninterrupted Husband and Sarah time! We might even be able to conceive the next spawn to wreck our sleep for another two years with that kind of time to work with!! That could be six sit-coms, three dramas, a WHOLE movie, endless Wii time. Just the thought of it was enough to throw Husband and I into the upper stratosphere of joyful anticipation. We became blindingly certain in our hope that, yes, when we got to L.A., the child would go to bed early.

Except he didn't. Nope. 10:30pm in Virginia turned into 10:30 in Los Angeles. Sure, for a couple of days, while we were first in the hotel, he conked out pretty early, out of deference to the time change and the sheer exhaustion of absorbing the new environment. But it didn't last; within a few days of moving into our house, Ethan was fighting sleep with the same champion's spirit he has all along.

And while he was pulling his "you can't make me!" routine at night, he was perfecting the same fight around nap times. So, sometimes he got a nap. Sometimes he didn't. In a few short days of this "flip flopping", Husband and I noticed something we'd consider nothing short of miraculous happening. On days he napped, he was up until after 10pm. On days he didn't nap, suddenly, he was rubbing his eyes and amenable to the idea of going to bed by...wait for it...7pm.

This was unchartered territory. Previously, days without naps just meant a crankier Ethan until after 10pm. The idea that he would be ready for bed before sundown on a day that he hadn't given in to a late morning/early afternoon nap was unheard of. No, we'd think, not our kid. He's a night-owl; won't think of going to bed until the 10 o'clock news is on; he's got to check out the headlines you know, he's very informed. But here it was. Sleeping, soundly, peacefully--from 7pm until 8am. (cue the angels weeping and the sky opening in a chorus of harmonizing seraphim).

So it began. The elimination of the nap. At under two and half years old. Parts of me were concerned that it was too soon. Other parts of me, the parts that wanted to spend some quiet time with Husband and not sit by myself for hours and hours every night, wrapped duct tape around the concerned parts and told them to shut the hell up.

Ethan did really well; I worried about having two extra hours in the day during which I'd have to entertain him, but we did okay--we filled our hours with all kinds of activities (we even made a trip to Michaels' craft store, and that's a whole blog entry in and of itself), and play dates and then magically, it was 6pm and time for dinner and bedtime. Viola!!! Perfect! Finally! This is what we'd been waiting for for the past year and a half of Ethan's life! A child who is happy all day, goes to bed at a reasonable time and stays asleep for hours and hours at a stretch.

Had I not been blinded by the rapturous ecstasy of it all, I would have known it was too good to be true. I would have heard the muffled voice of the parts of me duct taped and shoved in a trunk trying to tell me that he wasn't entirely ready and he was going to crash and this was a bad, bad thing to do to my poor little man. It was nice while it lasted, which was about a week...

This week, as we barreled through on the no-nap schedule, Ethan was Major Meltdown. We did all right in the mornings, fresh off our thirteen hours of sleep. Morning activities and play dates were a huge success (which is a blessing because we had a playdate this week with Gwen Stefani's kid and if Ethan has thrown something at Kingston, I'd have died of mortification--who wants Gwen Stefani being pissed off at them? Not moi!)

But the afternoons? Exorcist-baby. The park? Disaster. Our whole playground drug-trade of match-box cars ceased to appease the "IT'S MINE!!!" mantra that has suddenly found it's way into Ethan's repertoire. We tried a play date at a new friend's house. A friend Ethan's been rambling on about for days. Five minutes into the play date, Ethan's head was spinning and he was screaming like a banshee. Friend offers a toy, Ethan freaks. Friend takes a toy, Ethan freaks. Friend makes noise, Ethan freaks. Sarah scoops up Ethan, apologizes profusely to friend and friend's mom, and takes her poor cranky baby home, all the while wishing she hadn't carried on about how great this "no nap" thing is to all her friends because now when Ethan is a lunatic, people say, "Hm. He didn't nap today, huh?" And I hang my head in bad-mommy shame as I skulk away and wonder what do I do now?

So here it is, Saturday afternoon and I sit in Panera, my life-sized iced green tea and iPhone (I'm waiting for you to call me, Tress) at my side. And where is my son? At home. Napping with Husband.


Leap Year Dad said...

Hmmm... This updates my theory. Originally, I thought it only applied to men who in their past may have been less then gentlemanly in their youth, would, when they had children of their own, would have daughters as a sort of cosmic payback. Perhaps the nap issues is only the predecessor for some sort of cosmic payback for some sort of infliction you had on young men in your past.

I'm just sayin'...

(BTW: TJ has one daughter... and Dave T. has three... Even more appropriate. We'll see what else, hopefully at the 20th HS reunion is coming. "Grosse Pointe Blank" or "Since You've Been Gone", we shall see)

(One more BTW: Make sure to teach your child 60's and 70's music with the "Me First and the Gimme Gimmies". "Sloop John B" with a Ramones bend. Most calming, and better than whistling songs, as I seem to remember you telling me your father (and I) did))
(Okay, maybe not: "leaving on a jet plane" needs a Tipper Gore Tag.) "...Me and Julio down by the school yard...", "I am a Rock")

Sarah said...

Gwen Stefani's kid?? So cool.

Also, 13 hours of sleep-- I'd give my left arm for that kind of shut-eye!

Becca said...

Cool, Gwen Stefani's kid!! You knew you couldn't just sneak that in there, right? We are very familiar with the no nap afternoon crank here too. Both me AND Charlie need that nap. Or it's not pretty.

Emi said...

ok you have to tell us how you wrangled a playdate with Gwen's little on......we are waiting..... :-) I guess with the sleep thing we have to take what we can get. S has slept for 5 hours in a row ----once---- since she was born almost a year ago. ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Heidi said...

I'll pass on Gwen (although OMG you've been in LA all of 5 minutes and you're already hanging out with REAL celebrities?!) but can you set me up on a playdate with Jennifer Garner? I kind of love her.

Regarding the sleeping, my 2.9 yr old still naps (despite my mom warning me that I stopped at age 2, poor mom!) and she doesn't go to sleep until 9:30, 10pm, some days... but we put her in bed at 8:30. She can talk to herself all night long for all I care. Here's hoping there might be some of that in your future! :)

You didn't just sneak Gwen into that post, you also snuck in a little comment about potential baby #2. I know I don't get a vote, but I vote yes anyway.

Monica said...

I find kids sleeping habits constantly change. Don't give up on the nap just yet. My son, Ethan, is 4 going on 5. My daughter is 2. Some days when Jordyn goes down for her nap, I tell Ethan it's his "quiet time". Most of the time he ends up falling asleep, and if he doesn't I let him come out after 30 min. That way, I at least get some time to myself. I guess that sounds selfish.

Tress said...

Got your message on Saturday. After I woke up from my nap. Sorry 'bout that!