So the loft bed thing didn’t work. For those of you who have been following along, you will know that my 2-year-old son Edward does not want to stay in his bed at night. Not when we put him to bed, not at 3 AM, and not at 5 AM or 6 AM either. It is getting to be a real problem. We moved him out of his converted crib/toddler bed, in the hopes that a new big-boy bed would entice him to stay sleeping in it. Alas, to make room for this, we got his older sister a loft bed, which he found far more interesting than his own new bed, in that it was at the top of a ladder, and also contained a 5-year-old girl who would shriek a lot whenever he got into it.
My next brilliant idea was a bed tent. I thought, well if we made his bed more interesting, like it became a secret hideout or something, then he would definitely stay in it. This absolutely worked during nap time, while his sister was at school. He loved the tent. It had Cars 2 on it. “Light Queen! Light Queen!” he shouted excitedly as he climbed in and stayed there. Bedtime, however, was another story. Even the Lightning McQueen factor could not compete with the chance to bother his sister. Once again, he ended up in my room, sleeping in the Pack ‘n’ Play.
Suddenly, I am not messing around anymore. I need some freaking sleep. I need some adult alone time without children running up and down the stairs. I need them to fall asleep before I do. And so was hatched my next ingenious scheme.
Now, as I’m sure you know, in order to be an effective parent, your children must believe that you are omniscient. I had clearly fallen down on the job in that department, and so, the other night, after we put Ruby into her loft bed and Edward into his bed tent, I sat outside the door to their room in a darkened hallway, waiting for him to make his move. Peering through the ever-so-slightly cracked doorway, I eventually saw his little leg shoot out from between Mater and Lighting McQueen.
“STAY IN THE BED,” I called out, using my best villainous baritone impression. He froze. I waited. Slowly, his other foot came out and he pulled back the tent flaps, looking carefully around the room. “STAY IN THE BED,” I boomed again, hidden in the darkness. Man, I wish you could have seen the look on his face. His eyes darted around the room, searching for where I could be, and he looked terrified. He stood up. “GET BACK IN THE BED,” I called out.
Edward stood there, his little lip quivering, and held up his empty bottle to the darkness. “Bubba all gone!” he wailed despairingly. Ok, that got me. He usually does get a second bottle of milk, and while I would like to end that practice as well, it seemed cruel to try and take away everything in one night. I waited a few seconds, backed myself up, and then walked loudly to the bedroom door and opened it. I entered the room and, using my softest and wimpiest tenor voice, asked him if he needed more milk. He nodded, so I told him to get back in his bed and wait for it. He did, so I got him the milk.
After he went back into his bed with the second bubba, I sat down outside his door again and waited for him to drink it. I was probably there another ten minutes, which feels like a long time when you are on your first stake-out. Sure enough, after he had polished it off, I saw a little leg make its way out of the bed and onto the floor. “STAY IN THE BED,” I said again, quite firmly. He stuck his other leg out and then his head again, looking frantically to find where the mysterious and terrifying voice could be coming from. “STAY IN THE BED,” I repeated, and at this point he started shaking his head “no” back and forth quite fervently, as if to tell himself that this couldn’t really be happening. And then he crawled back into the bed.
I stayed there a while longer, and after a few minutes, he stuck his leg out again, but I didn’t say anything. He peeked out of the tent and for a second there I thought he was going to make a break for it. Instead, he went back into his bed on his own. He rolled over with his feet on his pillow and his butt almost sticking out of the tent, and he lay there for several minutes. When he needed to roll over again, he almost fell out of the bed, and his feet hit the ground. He sat on the edge of the bed once more and stuck his face out. He looked around again and was clearly thinking very hard about something. I just sat there, and after a minute or two, he just turned around and crawled back into the tent and, eventually, went to sleep.
I WIN! HA HA HA! Sure, the kids may be terrified of my supreme powers now, but is that anything other than a plus? I’m putting this one down in the parenting win column. And time will tell if this technique works in other areas too. I’m thinking in particular about when they start dating…