Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bedtime, part XXXIV

First, the good news: Melissa is getting better at going to sleep. Sometimes she lets her mom or I nurse or bounce her to sleep and that is that. When she does not she usually only yells for 5-10 minutes instead of 30-60.

Now, the way we got to that point is, Daddy decided that he was not going to go console his daughter while she yelled and pounded on the door for that 60 minutes. (Mama concurred with the decision but Daddy was doing the dirty work at this particular time.) This was hard, because she seemed genuinely distressed, but enough was enough, and, being a smart girl, she could tell that the pattern was, "if I bang on the door long enough, Daddy will come back." Not the right lesson to teach in this case. Her stubbornness was leading to sleep-deprived crankiness on her part and ours.

In preparation for battle, since having your daughter yell and bang on the door for you when she's supposed to be going to bed sucks even more than just yelling in her crib, we lowered the crib bottom as far as it would go to prevent her from climbing out. The top rail comes to her neck.

She climbed out anyway.

The first time she did this, I figured she was using our bed mattress as a step up in her climb to freedom, so I moved her crib away from the bed and left her there while I cleaned up the baby puke by the door. (Yes, she's still literally puking with rage if she works herself up enough.) Then I heard a clunk and more yells from the floor by the crib. In her rage, or the darkness, or both, she didn't notice that the bed wasn't there anymore and climbed over anyway.

We moved the crib back by the bed since we didn't want her to get hurt. After much banging on the door and wailing, she grew silent. When I dared check on her, she had climbed back into her crib and gone to sleep there.

A few days later I thought I'd give the crib trick another try when I was trying to get her to take a nap. Bang bang bang at the door, with screaming. It was daytime, so she could easily see when I pushed the crib away from the bed. Maybe she'd be intimidated by the memory of last time.

She was not. Bang bang bang again.

Obviously it wasn't working, but I was curious to see how she managed it, so I put her back in the crib one more time and watched through a crack in the door: she starts in the corner, pulls herself up a bit, gets an ankle over the rail -- it helps to be baby-flexible, because this is neck-level, remember -- and levers herself on to the top of the rail. Then she slips over, holding on with her hands so she's hanging by the rail, then lets herself drop to the floor.

Pretty sophisticated for 16 months if you ask me. Her mother's genes bred true.

(She uses the same leg trick to lever herself up onto our smaller rocking horse. I have that one on film: pretty impressive, if you're like me and the last time you were that flexible is roughly never.)

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