I know that I have been a little obsessed with sleep lately, but that is mostly because I was not getting a whole lot of it. I liken it to the forbidden fruit. Great, now I’m craving apples and a nap. Fortunately, things seem to be moving in the right direction for us in the sleep department. Finally.
As you know, I had tried almost everything to get Kid E to stay in bed. His most recent major complaint was that the night “is a very, very, very long time” and he was “getting bored with it.” Whenever I took the positive reinforcement route and said that I just knew he was going to have a good night, he would assure me that he planned to “try (his) best,” which of course was code for “see you at 3 a.m.” This kid plays dirty and is wicked smart, so I finally decided that I was going to have to fight fire with fire.
I played the Santa Claus card.
Inspiration hit me last week when the Target Holiday Toy Sale catalog arrived in the mail. Kid E started going through it page by page and he told me he wanted everything. Except for the pink pages because, apparently, he is a very manly four-year-old. He pointed to each and every boy toy in the book and said, “…and I want this and this and this. OH! And I want this too. This is so so so cool.” Even when I pointed out that we had one of the toys, just in a different color (not pink), he insisted that he needed it. He was already becoming brainwashed by commercials and catalogs.
I started to remind him that Christmas is supposed to be about giving and not just gimme! gimme! gimme! and then I had a brilliant idea.
“That’s a great wish list that you’ve got going there so far. We’ll have to be sure to write it all down and send it in a letter to Santa at the North Pole,” I began. I noticed his eyes lighting up so I sold it even harder,”… and we can ask him about his reindeer and the elves and if he is ready for his long trip on Christmas Eve. And then we can tell him how big you are getting and how good you have been lately. We can tell him that you have been sleeping through the night and…”
Kid E’s face fell. I knew that I had him. I just had to bring it on home.
“Oh no,” I said. “That won’t work, will it? Since you keep getting out of bed, either at bedtime or in the middle of the night, we can’t really tell Santa that you have been very good this year, can we? And do you know what Santa brings for little kids who aren’t very good? No toys. No games. No treats.”
Kid E had heard something from someone before. “Coal. Santa brings coal to bad kids, right?” he said with despair.
I had told the older kids the coal story for years. I even have a bag of coal that I keep in with the Christmas decorations so they run across it every year when we break out the boxes. The story goes that Sheepdog was really bad one year (he was eighteen and the dummy went out and got an earring and a tattoo), so Santa brought him nothing but coal that Christmas. The moral of that story: don’t be an idiot teenager. But I was now dealing with a toddler and I needed more firepower.
I held a steady face and continued, “Sometimes Santa does not even bring coal. Sometimes for the bad little kids he brings just socks. Socks and underwear. And not even the fun underwear with Nemo or Buzz Lightyear or skulls and crossbones on them. He just brings tighty whiteys and tube socks. And they’re not even wrapped.”
When I looked into Kid E’s horrified, big eyes, I saw fear like I have never seen before. I had a twinge of guilt for causing him such panic, but I quickly remembered that he had brought it upon himself and I was slowly turning into a zombie. The madness had to end. I needed to sleep through the night.
Now, every night after Sheepdog reads him a book and tucks him into his comfy bed, I tiptoe in to kiss him and say goodnight and before I leave the room I whisper softly, “Socks and underpants, little man. Stay in bed. I love you.”
Mmm-mmm-mmm, this is a very good apple.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…