The prelude to this post is that I have recently ruined my life by introducing my nearly 2 year old to a “big girl bed”. In non public forums I am referring to it by a slightly longer, less family-friendly name involving all the swear words.
After 3 days, 4 beds, gallons of tears and a fair amount of post-bedtime alcohol, the big girl bed is in pieces in the loft (not a pile of ashes in the back garden as I would like), the cot is standing empty in her bedroom, the new baby is in a co sleeper (with the co sleepy bit resolutely zipped up, as it shall stay) and The Queen is finally sleeping (of sorts) in a big girl bed (of sorts) – the enormous double bed in her room.
In theory I know that being nearly 2 is a confusing, scary, frustrating time and it’s my job to guide her smoothly through this transition year from baby to child with empathy, compassion and understanding. This afternoon I was feeling especially resolute (helped by the blissful silence of both kids being asleep in the back of the car as I drifted home through pretty Christmassy villages in the dark). I decided that tonight I would take some advice from an article I’d read the previous night at 4am whilst I winded the baby. It’s main message was that when you’re stressed, you should think “only love today”. That, and the old favourite, the phrase thrown out there like an agitation grenade by smug parents of older kids “it goes so fast, you won’t get this time again”. A phrase that frankly, when you’re watching peas get thrown across the kitchen by the handful and a screaming toddler running naked away from you when you were meant to be at a swimming lesson 5 minutes ago only warrants the answer “GOOD!”.
Anyway, in my resolute state, feeling loving and Christmassy, I decide yes, I will try it out this very night! I get both kids into the house and decide to treat myself to a trip to the loo whilst they were both calm. As soon as the baby was put down he began crying and the toddler tries to pry me off the loo to look inside it whilst repeatedly informing me that the baby is crying. As soon as the baby is fed, he switches from crying to screaming and the toddler starts asking for a snack (to those unfamiliar with it, a toddler asking for a snack goes like this: “snack mummy snack, snack, mummy get snack, mummy, mummy? MUMMY? Snack mummy! Mummy I need snack please! PLEASE! Snack mummy, SNACK please, I want snack, make snack now mummy, mummy make it snack, make it snack mummy!…”). It was to this soundtrack that I picked up a message from my husband informing me that his client wanted to stay for another drink so he’d miss the bedtime train. Bitterly sarcastic reply and soundclip of the little darlings losing their sh*t sent in reply to hubby, I make the damn snack and set toddler down in front of the safest show on earth, In The Night Garden. This buys me the respite I need to wind the baby, prepare 2 bedtime milks, pyjamas, bath and put the baby to bed. Just as the baby is off to sleep, the toddler is running upstairs in floods of terrified tears. Apparently in the night garden was “too scary”.
Toddler bath accomplished, story read, and still resolute in my “only love today” bedtime, I sit with the toddler in her enormous double bed as she turns straight over and falls peacefully asleep.
Of course that is NOT what f*cking happened.
We talked for 25 minutes about the “scary man” on “Iggle Piggle”. “Scary man go way!” “Scary man! Ooh too scary!” “Mummy say scary man, not real!” “Scary man” “I not watch Iggle Piggle any mo’!” “Go ‘way scary man!” “Ooh scary!” “Go ‘way!” “Not real scary man”. For F*CKS sake I am going to write to those BASTARDS at the BBC first thing in the morning.
Reassurances that mummy would rid the world of the scary man finally accepted, she laid down and closed her eyes. Brilliant.
What was NOT brilliant was that she then found a toy fire engine under her pillow. After repeated attempts to get comfortable whilst hugging a jagged fire engine, who is repeatedly assuring her that “a good fireman is never off duty” she hands it over. It is then that she remembers the scary man on ITNG. “Only love today” I remind myself and I decide to get into the bed with her to offer the ultimate scary man protection.
She then of course needed to decide the most comfortable position in which we should lie together. Would it be for her to hold my hand? No actually, hug, no, my hand on her back, actually no, spoons. No, hugging front to front, me sitting up? No, her sitting up? No, spoons again. No her hair draped entirely across my face. Actually no, her on her back with her doll on top of her with the covers EXACTLY positioned. No, still not right, hard headed doll thrown directly into my face, no covers. Actually covers. No covers. Covers. One leg out. Actually no, both legs out. During this ridiculous episode during which the only definite decision that had been made was that I should lying with no covers, I am silently repeating in my head “only love today”. Although the voice in my head is now crying. She finally decides on a position and goes silent for a good three minutes. It is at that moment that my husband decides to make his entrance by “creeping” up the stairs.
“DADDY! Daddy there! Daddy there mummy, daddy. Daddy on stairs, Daddy there. Mummy! Daddy there. Mummy? Daddy…”
“Time for sleep” is all that I trust myself to say at this point. Maybe it’s the ominous waver in my voice, but unbelievably she yields. And she has chosen a new position. Lying ON my head as though it were a pillow. Aaah, “you never get these f*cking moments again” I think to myself as she tries to exactly position our cheeks to her liking. She’s comfortable except for one small issue, which is my ear. Apparently it’s not the most comfortable to lie on. So let’s just move it, oh it won’t brush away. Let’s try again, no. Ok how about doll on mummy’s head, then me. Yes that’s better.
At this point I am thinking many things. Shall we play a game?
Which do you think I was thinking? Tick all that apply:
a) This experiment has worked well, maybe I will do this again tomorrow!
b) I will never get this time again
c) Only love today ❤️
d) F*ck this f*cking SHIT
She eventually went to sleep. I moved. She got me in a head lock. After 5 minutes I moved again “NO MUMMY!”. I jumped out and sat next to the bed going “shhhhhhh”. 5 more minutes and I moved again half way to standing. She was still asleep. My ankle cracked, her eyes opened. I sat down again.
The call of the alcohol downstairs and the image of my husband reclining comfortably in front of the TV eating crisps spurred me on. Yes reader, in desperation I slithered to the floor and commando crawled out of the room.
So, no, I will not be trying this method again.
And if anyone in the near future decides to tell me that I will “never get this time again”, I will simply smile and package it up in my box. “The box”. The box marked repressed rage. That’s the British way. It’s totally safe. Totally. Just a word of advice. If you ever see a sensible looking family car with 2 child seats in the back, for the love of God, don’t ever cut them up. And if you do, just drive away.
Drive away and don’t look back.