Tuesday, December 23, 2008


We are fighting sleep in this family. Well really only one of us is fighting sleep. She has gotten good at it. No more moments like this:

Nay, rather moments when I am falling asleep serenaded by Patty Cake and questioned about breakfast and smooches and reading the next day. In my dreams I am winning and I am competent to know how to win. In real life, the scenario goes something like this.

Me: Abigail, I expect you to go to sleep. Elmo and your dolls are very tired and they need you to help them sleep. I love you. Good night.

Abigail: Ok, I love you too. Good night. . . . Mommy (shouted from the bedroom) will you set the timer to give me smooches? ( A method developed to keep her in bed and not screaming a month ago. It was supposed to be phased out by now by adding minutes to the time. We are up to 45.)

I answer in the affirmative as I trudge to the microwave to set the timer for 45 minutes. Maybe, I have trained a long good night with this timer. I realize now as I type.

Little feet pad to the living room.

Me: Why are you up?

Abigail: Can I have some water?

Me: Get some from the bathroom in your cup?

The timer goes off and I walk to Abigail's room. She is in her bed with Elmo.

Me: Chris, come here. He comes to see the child. Why is your hair wet?

Abigail: I wanted to.

How did your hair get wet.

Because, I did it.

Making a mental note to not let children get their own water from the bathroom.
Me: Abigail, you must go to sleep.

Abigail: But I don't want to.

You must. I expect you to go to sleep. Now lie down. If you get out of bed once more you will get a spanking. Could the threat, no, promise of a spanking keep her in bed. I have my doubts, but am running out of options.

Back on the couch,

Mommy. . . Mommy.
Chris goes to see what is wrong. I think he fears for someone's life at this point. He returns reporting that she was concerned about the condition of the timer. It was running; he reassured her.

Preparing for bed, Chris and I check in for one last time. It has been quiet and I assume sleeping will greet me. I am wrong.

She looks up from her bed, keys in hand. Keys that were not near bed when last we were there.

Me: Abigail, where did you get the keys?

Abigail: I just wanted them.

Where did you get them?

I needed to pway with them.

Abigail, where did you get the keys? Could I be getting a little testy now?

From over there. She points across the room.

I ask, What did I say would happen if you got out of bed?

Two spanks.

Yep, I'll meet you at the chair. Because giving spanks on her toy littered bed is just too hard.

Abigail saunters over to the chair while I mumble something about this being entirely ineffective if she doesn't care to receive the spanking. Chris leaves us to it.

Trying to be all James-Dobson-correct-your-kid right, I started to outline the problem, Abigail, Mommy told you to stay in bed. Did you obey or disobey?

Disobey. She answers confidently and unapologetically.

Then you will get two spanks. I punctuated two by holding up two fingers.

Completely undaunted, Abigail takes my two fingers in one hand and says without a hint of fussing, begging, or pleading,
Mommy, be nice. (Go ahead, laugh, I know you want to. Feel no pity for me. Enjoy it.)

Chris dropped to the floor laughting hysterically, and I was left to start all over.

She went to bed with her two spanks unfazed. I went to bed wondering if the past three years have been a ruse to lull me into a false sense that my child was more compliant than strong-willed.

She started chattering, loudly. Abigail, stop talking and go to sleep. I implored. Then feeling guilty I added, Good night.

Before resuming her chatter in a lowered voice, she responded, You have good night too.


  1. LOL! Okay. I'm NOT laughing at you, it's just that... okay well, maybe I'm laughing at you a little but I think mostly at her. :)

    We've been there, we've been there for YEARS. Every night one or all three of my kids is going to drag it out. Every night we have issues. I hear tell that our neighbor and hubby's good friend doesn't have issues. He says good night--AND THEY ALL GO TO SLEEP.

    I'm not convinced that sort of thing actually happens.

    Seems to me though that spankings (which I am not against) are really that effective with her. Same way with my middle child, now 5. Perhaps the threat of taking away the timed extra smooches or some other consequence might be more effective?

    And I didn't tell you that you've "trained a long goodnight" - you said it yourself. ;)

  2. Oops - that should have read that spankings AREN'T really effective with her.

    But since I'm here, I'd like to add, I think most days we have more success with Daddy spankings or consequences. It's sad. But true.

  3. Have you thought that maybe she didn't use the sink to get her hair wet but another source of water in the bathroom?