It’s Not All Mary Poppins


Babygirl was fried this morning. Completely, utterly, absolutely fried. Her brown eyes were underscored with blue, her normally sunny disposition cloud-covered and drizzly. Every little thing set her off into a blur of tears. After three soggy outbursts in her first five minutes through the door, I looked into her sorrowful face.

“Babygirl, lovie, you are one tired little cookie. You need a sleep.”

“No! No want to sleep!”

“Come on, love.” I scoop her into my arms. “Time for a lie-down.”


We walk up the stairs, and I speak soothingly into the baby curls. “You’ll lie down, and you’ll have a snooze, and you’ll feel so much better! So much better.”

She’s still whimpering a little when we get to the bedroom, but we’ve been through this enough times over the past year and a half that she knows the inevitable when she sees it. When I lay her down in the bed, she’s quiet. A hug, a kiss on the forehead, her soos, and I’m gone.

Mondays are often tough on the tots. A busy weekend filled with visits and errands and activity, different than the Monday through Friday routine. In BG’s case, all this busy-ness is accompanied by too little sleep. She often needs a longer nap on Mondays. She doesn’t generally go down within five minutes of arrival, but it’s not unheard of. In fact, it’s getting more common, not less. Lately her parents have not been putting her down for naps on the weekend. (“She won’t sleep anyway. Why fight it?”) Coupled with her tendency to get up before five in the mornings, and weekend schedules that have her up to 8:30 or later in the evenings, this little miss is going on far less sleep than she needs.

I listen outside the door. Silence. She sleeps for four and a half hours.

She wakes at 12:45, just as the other children head up for their naps. She is a new child.

Sunny, sunny, sunny. Spontaneous bursts of laughter bubble from her, apropos of nothing, far as I can make out. She plays as I do dishes, she plays as I put away craft supplies, she plays as I sweep the floors, she plays as I catch up on my emails. I am busy, she is busy. She plays and chatters and chortles away, a steady stream of toddler chirpiness. She is so relaxed and just plain happy, and I am overwhelmed with affection … and exasperation and sadness.

She could be like this All.The.Time. All that is holding her back is inadequate sleep. All she needs is to get her afternoon nap, and get to bed at a reasonable hour, every day of the week. And it isn’t happening for her, and she is suffering.

It makes me sad.

She’s a strong-willed, feisty little thing. At this point, there is almost no way her parents are going to get her into regular sleep patterns without a struggle. It’ll mean crying. She’s over two, and has entrenched patterns which need to be changed. Her parents can’t bear the crying — and so she suffers. Not short-term, not for a few hours over a few weeks, but long-term. For months, for years.

(And yes, I’ve spoken with the parents, on several occasions, at length and in detail. There comes a time when to continue is to nag and alienate.)

Poor, weary baby.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | parenting, sleep | 15 Comments