Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Things that Go Bump in the Night (and Afternoon)

The trouble started, ironically enough, around the Ides of March. I put the Grape down for his nap and jumped in the shower. I emerged, warm and clean, and was wrapping myself in a towel when I heard a door open.

First thought: There is an INTRUDER in the house.

Second thought: That useless dog isn't barking.

Third, fourth and fifth thoughts (concurrent): I am naked. My phone is downstairs on the kitchen counter. [Expletive, expletive, expletive!!!]

The bathroom door swung open. There stood the Grape, in his pajamas, clutching the big stuffed dog from his bed. "Hi, Mamma," he said, in the most casual conversational tone I've ever heard him deploy.

My heart rate shot back down to normal. I scooped up the Grape, returned him to the crib, folded my arms across my chest and said, "Show me."

The little monkey hoisted himself out, if not gracefully, then efficiently, and landed on the floor in a heap. I noted with a mix of amusement and pride that he padded the floor with stuffed animals before launching himself.

Sixth and seventh thoughts: This nap was only twenty minutes old. My life as I know it is over.

I decided to haul out the travel crib. I figured he couldn't climb out because he wouldn't be able to get any purchase on the mesh sides.

Wrong. Minutes later, the Grape face planted onto the hardwood. No good.

Still in my towel, I called R. and shared the sad news: we need a big kid bed and we need it now. The store down the corner obliged. Crib was dispatched. Toddler bed was assembled and presented as a Major Big Deal. The Grape glowed with pleasure. He climbed in happily that first night.

And stayed put for almost two minutes. I wrung my hands and tried not to hyperventilate. I pictured the Grape up all night, emptying closets, playing with toys long forgotten, raiding the cookie jar.

R. told him big boys stay in their beds. I rolled my eyes.

But it worked. He slept like a champ that night. And has more or less been okay with getting in bed and staying there at night.

Naps are another story. The Grape's position is straightforward: bye bye, crib means bye bye, nap. He punctuates this opinion with his favorite new saying, "I don't have to," and stays put in bed from approximately 2 p.m. until 2:01 p.m.

My position is incompatible with his: No nap means that by dinner time (when it's too early to go to bed for the night and too late to cat nap), the Grape is a barely functional, blubbering, sobbing, fragile mess who walks into walls, trips over his shadow and refuses to eat. He screams, simultaneously, that he wants to stay home and he wants to go to the park. Lots of fun, right?

Meanwhile, I'm frazzled and fried. If he doesn't nap, I get nothing done.

Case in point: I responded to an email from my publicist yesterday afternoon while the Grape was boycotting his nap. I told her, basically: I red that book, and also I liked the read cover.

Which was sub ideal. At best.

Other parents have advised that we shut the Grape in his room for afternoon quiet time. "He'll get bored and go to sleep."

As if.

I've tried bribes. (If you take a nap, I'll buy you an ice cream.) I've tried threats. (If you don't stay in bed and take a nap, I'm taking away your cars.) I've tried looking him in the eye and repeating R.'s stern directive that big boys stay in bed.

The Grape mocks me. He literally laughs in my face. Something in his biological wiring tells him I'm not a serious threat to his newfound liberty.

Short of bringing back the crib, kitted out with one of those crib tent things that transforms it into something resembling a dog crate, I'm not sure what to do but wait him out. Pray he becomes exhausted enough to nap at least once or twice a week.

Or I could beg R. to stop in at home every afternoon around 2 so he can repeat whatever Jedi mind trick he did that first crib-free night.


  1. I feel like I've lost a little freedom every time my little guy figured out a "jail break" to the baby containment units. When we converted to the toddler bed, we removed most things from his room and put up a baby gate on his door. Some days he plays for two hours and never sleeps. Sounds like he and Little Grape are comparing notes on these non-nap days. Other days, like today, he played for 20 minutes and fell asleep in the floor. Good luck.

    1. Baby Containment Units. BCUs. Sounds like a euphemism a state might use for solitary confinement or some other type of imprisonment.