Monday, October 20, 2008

Night Terror

We are just back from visiting the family in Newcastle and potentially the most appalling nights' sleep ever.

Not just us, the motherperson and the fatherperson, but also grandparents, two aunties and three little New Zealand cousins. And not just the one night, but three, although to give Tricky his due he made sure that the nights got progressively worse.

Last week, after a couple of harrowing nights where Tricky had managed to throw himself out of the cot several times in an hour, C rolled up his sleeves and transformed the cot into a Big Boy Bed.

Cue much delighted shrieking from Small Brown Toddler and insisting that it was bedtime at 3 in the afternoon.

Mine Big Boy Bed! Mine have seeping! Mine seeping now! Doodnight!
On that first night he curled up in his big boy bed with a grin. C and I put an arm around each other's waist and simpered at each other. So adorable. So sweet.

Too easy.

He must have been chortling into his gingham doona cover.

One night and one night only of uninterrupted sleep. The next and the next and the next saw Tricky imitating a jack-in-the-box and us re-enacting a scene from Groundhog Day, probably one that hit the cutting room floor.

We had been advised that the best thing to do was to take him by the hand and firmly lead him back to bed without speaking or making eye-contact.

This worked well the first time. I led him back to bed and he obediently climbed back in. I did the same thing about 4 minutes later. Then C did it a couple of times. We were both aware that we were trying to instill good sleeping habits in our child, essential healthgiving skills that would ensure the wellbeing of all, and also we were gagging to watch the next episode of The Wire (series 2) in bed (with headphones).

C and I were quite calm and grownup about the leading back, taking it in turns, tipping each other off as we spotted him approaching our computers, muttering out of the side of our mouths like a couple of bad ventriloquists.

Ooh, here he comes, I can see him in the window.
Is he looking at us?
Who's he heading for?
Ok, both ignore him and then when he gets close enough I'll grab his hand and take him back.

But Tricky seemed to think that the silent treatment wasn't really working and on about the fourth or fifth curtain call he decided we needed a good prompt.

Come on, Mummy, he said, as he grabbed my hand and led me back to the bedroom.
Time for bed. Tricky's big boy bed. Seepy time. Det into bed. Shhhhh!

There was no Wire that night. Instead, C and I, finally, beaten, turned off the lights and got into bed only to hear the ominous patter of little feet, followed quickly by the rabid scrabbling of little paws.

And yes I got out of bed and led him back to his Big Boy Bed. And again and again. But at some point in the night, half asleep, I got confused and put him into our bed and so The Toddler won, at least until about four in the morning when I awoke to find his feet jammed into my stomach and I picked him up and carried him back to where he belonged.

Which leads us to our little holiday in Newcastle to meet lovely little cousins/nephews/niece and to see Aunty AJ again and Aunty K and newest Tiny Niece and, bonus: Aunty T down from Byron Bay. Aphwa and Poppy's house was full and so Tricky had to sleep in his travel cot in the same room with us and so the nightmare began again. Except this time, although he could climb out of the travel cot he couldn't get back in and it was hot and the walls were thin...


Last night, the worst of all, Tricky woke (in travel cot) suddenly, at 11pm, and started screaming about...oh look who knows. There was something about Mummy and Big Bed and quite a lot of Water and I think there was something about the Global Financial Crisis...but really, when you are wrenched from your sleep by a howling monster of a toddler who arches and kicks in your arms and then tries to hit you across the face and then when given a sippy cup of water throws it on the floor because you haven't held it to his lips as he expressly told you listen when I am screaming, how many times do I have to tell you my hands do not touch the loathsome sippy cup and then finally when you do hold it to his lips he bites down and uses his teeth to rip the lid off ensuring he and you will be doused in water and now he really will scream because I am wet dammit, change my trousers this instant!

I am sort of laughing about it now but in that moment, knowing that everyone, adults and kids alike had also been rudely woken and were lying there, wondering what the hell was happening, and water dripped through my pyjamas and my child howled and bucked and kicked and slapped, I felt like some evil fairy had slipped through the window and replaced my darling little bubba boy with some horrendous mythical monster.

I shouted at C through gritted, I Have Had Enough, teeth and he leapt up and grabbed Tricky and dragged him out into the loungeroom where I would find them ten minutes later curled together on the sofa, Tricky's eyes large and dark as he silently drank cup after cup of water.

But before then, I got up and turned on the light to get a towel and dry myself and the bed off, and I saw my angry face in the mirror and my ugly clenched-jaw scowl, and who, I wondered, was the real monster now?


MsPrufrock said...

See, this proves that P will never sleep in a Big Girl Bed. It's never going to happen. I am terrified of this, because my patience, she is limited.

Also, interrupting The Wire? That might possibly be the naughtiest behaviour a child could ever carry out. Yep, I'm pretty sure it is.

Yo-yo Mama said...

The "Big Boy Bed" is the pan pipe of toddlerhood. While this won't help you when you are traveling, we actually put a gate in the bedroom doorway to cage our runaway sleeper.

Betty F said...

Oh that sounds awful! I always missed the cribs when the kids got bigger.. They NEVER slept through anymore. Good luck

Anonymous said...

Lordy how ghastly... I suppose the sleep issues last for years.

Em said...

This is why Miss M has to stay in a crib until she is . . . 12?

So sorry your sleep was disrupted. We had a similar experience when we traveled in August. I couldn't wait to get home.

Maggie May said...

Oh how I remember nights like that!
I am afraid to say that the kids spent many a night in our bed! They grew out of it quite quickly!

Sleep is so precious. But the water thing, oh the water thing..........!

OvaGirl said...

It seems like we only just got the sleep thing sorted which makes this all that much more painful. I just hate what i turn into...

lucky #2 said...

We haven't even attemped a big girl bed for MiniMe yet. This really reminds me why I am NOT looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

Oh Ovagirl, I am with you on the (m)other monster thing. My husband sometimes has to turn away from our misbehaving toddler and tell me to get a grip. I see that angry face and clenched jaw look a lot in the mirror. Sometimes I can't help taking my toddler's behaviour personally, as though my darling two-year-old has the mental processes of a malignant adult and is doing it deliberately to cause me maximum aggravation and upset. I hate myself for my crazy reactions, but find it so hard to be calm all the time. I try to tell myself what I am going through is more common than I know, but I still think I'm the biggest witch out there.

OvaGirl said...

Oh anonymous...I am so with you on this, right down to the husband surprise/bewilderment at my non-coping burst of anger. It is hidious and upsetting and above all... happens to loads of women, I talk about this with my friends and we all have moments of losing it. I think it seems like we're the only one who can't cope but we're not. I do think being tired makes it a lot worse and wears our tolerance much thinner than it would normally be...