his week mommy “broke bad” on her children. She decided that she was tired (literally) of sleepless nights and a life controlled by toddler fury. So she initiated sleep training. And stopped referring to herself in the third person.
So I “sleep trained” my kid. And it wasn’t the first time. There were others. And those were accompanied by books, DVDs and website wisdom. And to this day, I would like to shove some of those books and DVDs up a certain orifice of many a “sleep expert.” Okay. Stop it. Breathe.
Let me just say that currently (thank you Jesus, Allah, Buddha or whoever hooked me up) my baby sleeps well. Two naps a day and at last 10 hours a night. But, prior to last month, my sons (ages three and 13 months) were double teaming me during the night. It got so bad that I was hallucinating. And I was paranoid. (Note: No drugs involved. Except wine occasionally).
I was sure that the two boys were secretly communicating in an effort to coordinate their “wake-mom-up” schedule. (Never mind that the little one can’t talk — they have their nonverbal ways.) They worked more like Swiss than Italians. There was precision involved.
Once my younger son conceded and let his old lady lie down and rest, leaving just the older one to destroy my REM. Oedipus (not his real name) versus Mommy (not my real name either).
(Gunsmoke whistle). A sleep showdown ensued.
I talked little Oedi in to lying down with me in his beautiful bedroom full of all of his little kid things. We read all of his favorite books and one of mine. And then I sat next to his bed and told him to sleep.
He freaked like one of those “Just say no to Drugs” videos. You know the ones where you see the guy on PCP with superhuman strength? Yeah. Wow.
He was writhing and screaming and trying to escape from his Disney-clad sheets, which cost more than any 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton I had ever purchased. I did what any good mother would do. I called for backup.
“He is manipulating you!” My sister said from across the ocean. “When you were away for the night he went right to sleep for me without any problems.”
“What should I do?”
“Tell him if he gets out again you will shut the door.” That seemed a bit severe.
After two hours. I did just that. I shut the door. He went mad-ballistic. I wanted to do the same, but I am not a toddler.
“He turned off the lights,” Marco said after several minutes (I have no idea how many minutes, as I was in fetal position with my iPod and a glass of pinot grigio).
“Go in and turn them on… but get right back out! Don’t let him suck you in.” This was war. But we agreed that it was best for our son and for our relationship.
What I heard next, I cannot print. But the scream that accompanied it was primal.
Marco had opened the door to find what looked very much like a Manson family reunion. Oedi had cut his head and the blood was everywhere.
I located the cut and applied pressure.
“We have to get him stitched,” Marco said in Italian. His mother tongue always equaled panic.
Having had over 300 stitches in my own head, I had the stomach for stuff like this. During urgent moments at least one parent needs to remain calm and think systematically. “Get dressed,” I instructed in a monotone Italian. “When you are done dressing, you will take him and keep applying pressure. I will then put on my clothes, and wake the baby….” We got him to the ER ASAP. It was 1 a.m.
“What is a kid of his age doing up at this hour?” asked the triage nurse.
“We just got back from the U.S.” She looked at me with disdain.
“He is still on East Coast time.” She didn’t get it. “Jet Lag!” I explained.
It took five people to hold down my offspring (who was not on PCP – but was on EST) as a doctor stitched him. We were back home in 30 minutes and he fell asleep in my arms.
The drama was done for, so I had time to reflect.
I felt terribly. Like the worst mother on the planet. The one time I chose to really assert my parental power and my son ends up in the hospital! I was sure that I should be given some type of warning or demerit or a black mark from mommy hell. I was also sure that my sister had to share the blame. So I called her back and explained the whole sorded tale.
“That is really awful,” she said, “But he still needs to sleep in his own bed.”
At writing, the stitches have dissolved and my son is now sleeping on the couch.