Mazzy's rough transition to a toddler bed has been well documented. But it seems each time I write about it, it only gets worse. Every night, Mazzy gets more and more demanding, and my husband and I have resorted to any means necessary to appease THE QUEEN.
When exactly my soon-to-be three-year-old daughter started running the show, I'm not sure.
The Queen's nightly bedtime demands include...
2) "Leave the light on!!!!" (we compromise with the hall light, door open)
3) "More books!!!!!" (she "reads" in the dark)
4) "Fix the blanket!!!!" (god forbid Her Majesty's feet become uncovered)
5) "Mommy, sit there!!!" (her royal highness would like me to sit obediently by her bedside; if I tell her I have to feed Harlow, she says, "Sit there with the baby!!!")
6) "Tell me a story!!!" "Count sheep!!!" "Name the people I love!!!" (this is the "Court Jester" portion of the evening where I must entertain and amuse The Queen until she gets sleepy)
7) "Mommy, check on me!!!!!!"
The last one is her favorite. It started because a commenter suggested check-ins in ten minute intervals. She said her daughter always falls asleep before the second one.
Well, Mazzy operates a little differently. Saying I'll check in on her in ten minutes works brilliantly to get me out of the room. But then, Mazzy screams "Check on me!" before the ten minutes are up. And then after I check on her, she makes me promise to check in on her again. And this cycle continues for the next TWO HOURS.
The other part of our bedtime routine that has devolved into total chaos is THE BOOKS. After I read her three books while sitting in the chair and one more book while she is lying in bed, Mazzy has somehow finagled 5 minutes of "reading by herself" with the lights on. Then, when I come back, she wants a huge stack of books to "read" once the lights are off. When she is done "reading" her books, she asks for more books. And then, when she is done with those, she asks for more.
How many books does she go through a night? Oh, about SEVENTY. All of which, she unceremoniously tosses onto the floor when she is finished, so that in the morning, her room looks like a vandalized library.
The important thing to know is that my sister (aka Dr. B, the school psychologist) came over for dinner Tuesday night and witnessed my parental failures firsthand.
"You gotta nip this in the bud," she said.
"This isn't a bud. It's a full blown flower."
"Well, it's only going to get worse."
She said by continuing to check on Mazzy whenever she demanded it, I was rewarding negative behavior. And that negative reinforcement was probably effecting a lot more than bedtime.
AIN'T THAT THE TRUTH.
So, with a professional by my side and Mike out for a work dinner (isn't he always?), I stopped answering Mazzy's demands. The next time she yelled for me to check on her, I yelled back, "No more check-ins! You have to go to bed!" And when Mazzy continued to yell for me, I ignored her outright.
Unfortunately, my daughter is not one to take "silence" for an answer and continued to yell "Mommy, check on me!!!" well after Dr. B left for the evening.
For the next two hours, I sat by myself on the couch as Mazzy continuously screamed "Mommy, check on me!!!" There was crying. There was kicking on the wall. But thankfully, she did not come out of her room.
Finally, she exhausted herself and fell asleep. And I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
But it wasn't over yet...
The tough thing about trying to extinguish a behavior is that once you start, there is no going back. Earlier this evening, I was forced to follow through what I started the night before.
This time, I told Mazzy what was going down beforehand. I said, there would be one check-in after ten minutes and then that was it.
"Because you have to go to bed."
"Because that's the rule."
"Because Mommy says so."
During the promised check-in, Mazzy asked me to sit in the chair. I said, no, I love you and walked out.
Mazzy screamed for me to to come back in the room for about an hour. After no response, she switched tactics.
"Fix my feet!!!!"
"I need water!!!!"
Then, she turned to her last resort. She got out of bed and stood in her doorway.
Per Dr. B's orders, I walked over, picked her up and plopped her back in bed without a word and with as little eye contact as possible.
"MOMMY, SIT HERE!!!"
I walked back out.
She yelled for about twenty more minutes and then either gave up or passed out.
I have no idea what she will do tomorrow night but I know I will stick with what I've started. It's the only way to DEFEAT THE QUEEN.
In the meantime, I am really looking forward to cuddles with Her Majesty tomorrow morning.