Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In training

M found out today that he is receiving an award in March, and that it will be presented at a cocktail reception. He commented that he'd rather decline the award than attend the reception, but we decided that might be a little tacky, and then he pointed out that I should plan on attending with him.

Oh.

So we're in training. Six months to get our girls babysitter-ready. Let's evaluate where we are now:

L goes to sleep well. She never, ever, never stays asleep well. She can be put back down to sleep exactly once by M. The second time she wakes up she will calm down ONLY by nursing. She can usually be put back down to sleep in her crib the second time by nursing. If she wakes up a third time (or if the second time comes when I feel too tired to keep myself awake) she just comes to bed with us, and nurses throughout the night. She sleeps great, then. In principle, I hate this system. In realistic terms, I get a decent amount of not-so-inconvenient sleep this way, and she sleeps terrifically. So I guess I don't hate it all that much.

Agenda item #1 on the training schedule: either acquiring detachable, portable breasts; or weaning; or teeth popping through to limit sleep disruptions; or general sleep training; or something. We'll call this part the Endurance Training.

E is not so simple as her younger sister. She will not let anybody except me take her up to bed. If I'm not home (which is rare), she'll grudgingly go up with M, but then she'll sleep miserably all night. Even before we would arrive at the sleep component of the night, E would surely scream her head off at the notion of us leaving the house without her (read: leaving her behind).

Agenda item #2: identifying the perfect babysitter. This will be someone whom E already trusts, and who has a car to get here without relying on the vagaries of public transportation in the suburbs. Additionally, this will require several nights out before the date in March, during which E will scream and scream and not go to sleep, but for which we can leave for brief periods, hopefully desensitizing her to the horror of the notion of Mommy and Daddy doing something fun without her. Label this Strength Training, because oh, dear god, please give me strength.

Not to be outdone by a baby, though, E has sleep issues of her own. Have I mentioned how for several nights last week one of us would run upstairs for something to find her asleep on the hallway carpet? There was a perfectly rational explanation for that, and M dragged it out of her a little after 10 on Saturday night, when she was refusing altogether to get into her bed, when the girl who had skipped a nap still wasn't asleep. Apparently, E had been having nightmares about germs. Because she was in her bed when she dreamed about the germs, that let the germs get in her bed. So she didn't want to be in her bed. But the hallway floor was safe. Why, you ask? The girls' bathroom is across the hall from E's bedroom door. Everyone knows that there are germs in bathrooms. But since you wash your hands when you're done using the potty, the germs stay in the bathroom. Germs can't get into the hallway. The hallway is safe. And that is why for three nights in a row our elder daughter relocated to the berber carpet.

I had plans to go out with a girlfriend Saturday night, and M assured me I should still go. We had finally gotten E asleep, L had only awoken once, and he would be fine. Saturday night was the beginning of our training regimen, even though we didn't know it at the time. We were practicing the finer elements of the Mental Game. It's not over until the fat lady sings, always run not just to first base but through it, that sort of thing. We did not have our Mental Game on very well at all, because when I got home at 1:45 am, M was sitting on the couch watching a Laurie Berkner DVD with E, while L was playing at standing up with the edge of the coffee table. You can believe it was straight to the family bed that night. The Mental Game might be our weakest point right now.

I had an old linen spray that I bought years ago that smells like lavender. I brought it into E's room, and made a prominent show of spraying her door frame and all over her bed. The nice smell will scare the germs away, I told her. She was inspired by this notion of taking the upper hand away from the germs. Let's SCARE THEM, Mama!! She grabbed her most menacing stuffed animals: her batik elephant, the new shark she got at the aquarium last week, the tiger Aunt Beverly gave her when she was born. Then we also gathered the Power of Purple: purple poodle, purple turtle, Purple Girl. And, of course, we needed Baby Doll and Dora. E stood her watchdogs against the guardrail at the end of her bed, and there they've been since. We've re-sprayed the lavender, but so far she's been able to return to peaceful, germ-free bed sleep.

September 2, 2008

Still life with unblinking sentries

The germ issue, it seems, has been successfully resolved. But there will be something else. There will always be something else. The trick is to be nimble. Nobody could anticipate bad germ dreams, but the linen spray and the yellow bed Beefeaters are emblematic of the kind of creativity we've already been practicing since E was born. Label this: Agility Training.

It's time for rally caps. We've got a cocktail reception to attend and a social life to rebuild. So we're in training. Game Day is coming. Pin It