I'm not going to say bedtime is a good time. Anyone who has ever parented a toddler or pre-schooler will know that is a pile of crap.
But with all the madness that comes with trying to establish a bedtime routine, there have always been a few constants in our house. Once she's settled into bed with her PJs on and a snack in hand, Mommy reads a story or two, Grandma reads a story or two (my mother-in-law lives with us) then it's Daddy's turn. I do a story, I switch her sun/moon clock to night mode, turn off her light, pull up her blankets, sing her a song and kiss her good night.
There have been deviations here and there (sometimes someone isn't around for their part in the routine) and the end isn't always the end ("but I need a drink of water," "but I need to go potty") but it was a pretty constant routine for us for most of my daughter's life. And it was a routine I really enjoyed. I even went so far as to record myself doing my stories and songs for my wife to play when I travelled for work, though that was more of a flop than anything.
"What song are we singing tonight, kiddo?"
"No song, Daddy."
"Can I give you your kiss good night?"
"No thanks, Daddy."
Maybe it's a phase. Or maybe it's a natural part of her maturation. But damn it, I miss my song and kiss.
As the door swung open, a pair of expectant eyes peeked over the edge of the blanket that otherwise covered the child in the bed. Upon seeing me, those eyes began to turn sad.
"I was calling for Mommy."
"I know kiddo but we're going to let Mommy rest."
The blanket lowered and a sad face emerged. A sad face clearly on the precipice of greater emotion.
"But I want Mommy..." the tears started. A slight sob escaped her lips. "I want Mommy..."
"What do you need Mommy for, sweetie?"
The crying intensified.
"I want Mommy to get me dressed!"
As I made my move towards the bed the sadness turned to panic and anger.
"I WANT MOMMY TO GET ME DRESSED!"
"I know love, but we're going to let Mommy sleep in today. Do you want toast and eggs?"
But at this point, the promise of her preferred breakfast can do nothing to stop the freak out. As I lifted her from her bed and laid her on the floor to start peeling off her pyjamas and nighttime training pants the rage set in. Legs began to flail. One kick caught me squarely in the nether regions. I struggled through and got her dressed, then scooped her up and held her to my chest as I carried her downstairs.
The rage turned to desperate, heaving sobs as we sat down together in the living room. Inconsolable crying echoed around the living room until suddenly, as quickly as it started, it was done.
"Daddy, do you want to play play-doh with me?"
The kid has always been more of a Mommy's girl than a Daddy's girl but lately it's reached epic proportions. The meltdown described above is, sadly, par for the course whenever I try to get her out of bed. She's broken down in tears because Daddy brought her a snack that she asked Mommy for. It's frustrating for me but it borders on torture for my poor wife. One day last week the kid actually tried to physically stop my wife from leaving the room.
To use the washroom.
It used to be kind of cute. Hell, we even used it to our advantage. Rather than "it's time to go up and get ready for bed" we'd bust out "do you want Daddy to get you ready for bed or Mommy?" It was inevitably Mommy, of course, but at least it meant she went with something bordering on enthusiasm.
But now it's a mess. The kid has stopped wanting to do things she used to enjoy — gymnastics class, for example — if Mommy's not there. Even skating lessons, which is something she and I together since my wife can't skate as well as I can, is only acceptable if Mommy is watching (and even then it's a stretch).
My wife is, understandably, reaching the end of her rope. But at this point, even if she did hit rock bottom, odds are the kid would be right there beside her. Everyone says it's a phase. Anyone know how long that phase lasts?
After the roaring success (or something) of the first installment of Talking To Toddlers, I figured there was no better time to head back into the studio (our living room) and record a second installment than Valentine's Day. I mean, kids are pretty much just great big balls of love, right? Or, as is the case right now at least, love and snot. Sorry about the sniffles that punctuate the interview. Turns out, the feast of St. Valentine is far more complex for a toddler.
Oh and a quick FYI: Henry is our dog. Daphne is a stuffed dog.