Well, really, we’re offering our kid stickers to sleep through the night. We’ll see what happens. We gave him three stickers tonight and told him that each time he calls us and we have to come in, we’re taking a sticker back to bed with us. Whatever’s left in the morning he can keep. Whatever we take away gets back onto his bookshelf to try again the next night.
Because seriously, this shit has to stop.
For the record, when he’s scared from a nightmare or cold or hurt, I’m happy to go to him. It’s my job. It’s called parenting. No, we didn’t co-sleep. Couldn’t do it. Variety of reasons. Be gentle with me. I know what follows is not nice. But we’ve tried everything except letting him cry, and I’m hoping bribery is slightly better long-term.
And I know paying him to sleep is totally against our parenting ideas. A child who wakes at night and really needs help, we say, is a child who gets our help. We’ve tried just letting it go. We’ve tried the pediatrician-recommended straight talk express: “Your body needs sleep, mommy’s body needs sleep, daddy’s body needs sleep. When you call for us at nighttime for a cuddle, you wake us up and we don’t get much sleep. If we don’t get much sleep, we get cranky. You don’t like us cranky, so let us sleep. Cuddle your doll and don’t call us.” Didn’t work. He tried hard. But he can’t help waking. He can, however, control whether he calls us or not.
Yeah, well, last night there were seven times between 3am and 4:30am when he NEEDED his socks pulled up and NEEDED his tucked-in covers more tucked in and NEEDED to find a place to put his tissue. So needed them so much that he called out, then called out, then cried, then sobbed. So I told him, each time that he cried enough to convince me he was awake and genuinely sad, and I got out of bed and onto freaking crutches in the wee hours, that he did not need me for those things, and that he was old enough to do it himself. From his doorway I refused to help. Bad parenting awards can be sent to 123 Years I Haven’t Slept, NotNiceParentville, Crappy Parentland, 01234.
And so help me, the seventh time I went in, when he, fifteen minutes after visit number six to his doorway, asked, then begged, then cried, then sobbed that he needed his socks pulled up again, I yelled at him that if he woke me again he’d have to sleep in the yard. He cried. “I don’t want to sleep in the yard.” He’s two and a half. I’m not nice. I’m going to parenting hell. You don’t threaten your kid with sleeping in the yard. That’s not attachment, that’s disordered. I don’t want to yell. But he is capable of sleeping through the night. He’s done it before. He’s just pushing my buttons, and I’m out of patience. I haven’t slept in three years.
Hence the sticker bribe.
I don’t know what else to do. When he was tiny this was expected. When he was wordless, it was still normal, if hard. Now he’s big enough to do most things on his own, if not well. We respect him all his waking hours, but have lost the will to live from 10pm to 5am.
So we’re paying him to leave us alone at night. I’ll let you know how it goes.