(What Would The Internet Do?)
So I write that advice column, right? And I love it and the questions I get asked never fail to challenge me and/or sock me right in the feels. But it's funny because the questions tend to come in topic-waves — suddenly and inexplicably, everybody's asking stuff about cloth diapers. Then I get a run of mother-in-law problems. Then a bunch of special needs parenting questions roll in. Currently, we seem to be elbow-deep in toddler food-related issues (i.e. the not eating of it, usually) and naps. Oh my God, NAPS. Everybody is asking about naps because everybody's babies have all decided to stop taking naps. It's a worldwide epidemic/uprising out there right now.
Meanwhile, I'm wondering who the hell is going to answer MY nap-related question, because da fuq if I know what I'm doing right now either.
About a month ago, we changed Ike's school schedule — for a variety of reasons, mostly because we were concerned about his speech development. He had a satisfactory number of individual words, but wasn't really combining them and he was really hard to understand. He was also starting to toe walk and get overly picky about textures. Yeeeeeahhhh. Jason thought we needed to get him evaluated by Early Intervention, but My Gut told me that he was on the wrong side of borderline to qualify for anything. And that upping his school attendance to five days a week — thus giving him more time with his peers and more exposure to all the sensory-themed Montessori materials — was worth a try before getting too worked up about it.
Was it EVER, you guys. Ike's language has exploded over the past few weeks. I haven't seen him toe walk and all the other little sensory quirks seem to be fading away just as quickly. He's eating better, trying new things, and TELLING me about all the new things. Most of all, he's happy and social and just...thriving there. He suddenly knows all his colors and is starting to count and can recognize his name in print and says please and thank you and WHO KNEW THERE WERE SCHOOLS THAT WILL CIVILIZE YOUR TWO-YEAR-OLD FOR YOU?
(I always waited until my other boys were closer to three years old before sending them to preschool. I feel retroactively cheated.)
ANYWAY. The change in Ike's school schedule was a change for everyone, since it meant saying goodbye to our lovely part-time babysitter and the flexibility she brought with her. Kids have a day off? Someone not feeling well and needs to be picked up? Someone not napping? No problem. For me, anyway. I could at least count on a set number of hours to work on the days she was here, no matter what the kids were up to. Not so much, anymore.
Now, Ike's nap is of the utmost importance. We live or die by the nap. And if you've stopped by this blog with any regularity this month and been all, "Why the fuck isn't she updating this damn thing anymore?" YOU KNOW WHO TO BLAME.
The first week or so, the big Nap Challenge was keeping him awake during the car ride home. I'd pick him up at noon and the effort of the morning's Montessori-ing had clearly wiped him out. But if he fell asleep in the car — even for the final 20 damn seconds as I pulled up to our house — that mean NO NAP once we got inside. The edge was off and so was he.
So I learned to open all the windows and screech pop songs at him at the top of my lungs (MAYBE I'M GOING DEAF, MAYBE I'M GOING BLIND, HELLO CAR NEXT TO ME LOOKING AT ME LIKE I'M OUT OF MY MI-I-I-I-I-I-I-ND). I'd bring interesting non-toy items with me like old TV remotes or empty waffle boxes for him to contemplate. I'd stuff my bag with a variety of small stuffed animals and throw them at him whenever he started to nod off.
(How's that for parenting advice? Need to keep your baby awake in the car? Just give him some trash to chew on and throw shit at his face! Works every time!)
But then he adjusted, more or less, and swung in the opposite direction, the I'm Not Tired At All direction. He'd stay awake in the car, awake during lunch, and then very, very profoundly awake during the entire block of time traditionally known as "nap time."
Fine, I told him. I have played this game and danced this dance. I'm a goddamn Internet parenting advice columnist person. You do not have to sleep but BY GOD you are going to stay in your room, in your bed, for some quiet time. Here are some books to gnaw on like a hamster; I'll be in my office.
So that went on for awhile (what, did you think I was getting to the POINT of this entry already, or something?), until the lack of sleep finally caught up with him. He still fights the nap for most of the afternoon, but now he consistently caves and falls asleep later in the day. Like at 3:30, on our way to pick up Ezra. Or at 4:30, smack dab in the middle of snacktime, face-first in a bowl of Goldfish crackers.
Okay, you think, that's no big deal. Just let him get a little snooze and wake him up for dinner, right?
So it turns out Ike doesn't really "do" the "little snooze" thing. He's not "into" the "power nap." When he goes down, he wants to SLEEP. It's never been unusual for his afternoon nap to be four or five hours long. This is AWESOME if the nap starts on time, like 12:30/1:00 — I have the whole afternoon to work and then he's up and awake on his own before dinner, with a reasonable block of time to go before a 7:30/8:00 p.m. bedtime.
The "awake on his own" thing is a big deal, though. If I wake Ike up from a nap before he's ready, he's...hmm, how to delicately phrase this without sounding horrificially unkind towards my youngest sweetest precious baby?
Fine, he's an asshole. A cranky, hysterical, inconsolable asshole.
He'll wander around the kitchen while I make dinner, sobbing for snacks that I can't give him (or that I do give him, only to have them suddenly be WRONNNNGGG and NOOOOO). He won't touch his dinner, at all, not even one bite, and then after dinner he continues the aimless wandering of misery and woe, shrieking for whatever toy his brothers have in their possession until we're all finally like, "OKAY EARLY BEDTIME FOR IKE THANKS FOR JOINING US."
Yesterday I had to take Noah to an appointment after school, and Ike predictably fell asleep in the car on our way back around 4:30. I carried him inside like a sack of potatoes and plopped him in the crib.
And then I didn't wake him up. Dinner time rolled around and I just...couldn't deal with another meal disrupted by the Toddler Hound of the Baskervilles. A meal he wouldn't even eat anyway.
(Ezra, upon realizing that we had no intention of bringing Ike down to eat, started to cry. "Ike's going to DIE!" he wailed.)
He slept until 7:30. A.M., that is. Fifteen straight hours. He still had his damn shoes on when I got him up this morning.
He ate a good breakfast but didn't seem particularly ravenous. He ate a VERY good lunch and was in an excellent mood after school — soooo much more like himself, frankly, than the nighttime crankpot we've been dealing with lately. We cuddled and read books and I put him down for a nap. Then I spent my afternoon writing this screed-mess of an entry while he bounced up and down in the crib and sang songs to himself and hurled toys and books at his door. (I'm guessing.) (Hoping, anyway, that those noises were just toys and books and not some Paranormal Activity-like shit going down in there.)
So now it's just about time to put him in the car and start collecting his brothers from their schools, and I know what's going to happen. He'll fall asleep. And I'll have the choice of:
1) Bust out the STAY AWAKE car moves, or wake him up immediately in hopes of avoiding the bad mood (but possibly depriving him of sleep that he clearly desperately needs, because even an early bedtime won't make up for the loss of a four/five-hour nap),
2) Let him sleep for a little while and THEN wake him up and face his I AM NOT AN EARLY EVENING PERSON wrath, or
3) Let him sleep for another 15/16 hours straight while praying to the baby flying spaghetti monster that his diaper can go the distance (so he's not waking up soaking wet in the middle of the night and coincidentally ready to party/eat dinner).
So, Internet: What would you do?