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Lord Save Me From Night-Night Time, Li'l Bit-Style

So if Maddie’s night-night routine
is challenging – what with all her incessant questions and
all- then Cora’s routine is downright torture. My toddler is
going through her “I hate bedtime and will do ANYTHING to
prolong it” phase, and it ain’t pretty.

Cora will argue over every aspect of her bedtime routine: brushing
teeth, getting pj’s on, pouring a glass of water – you
name it, she’ll debate it. Almost every step is a knock-down
drag-out fight, and it wears you down, trust me. There are only so
many times I can –gently but firmly – pinch those
cheeks to make her open her mouth so I can brush her teeth before I
think to myself, Heck, how bad can skipping one night of brushing

I know, I didn’t say I did it. I just think it.

Cora wants to do everything BY HERSELF,
and it takes twice as long. She’ll brush her teeth, which I
allow because she needs to learn how to do it eventually, but when
I try to take over she screams and fights. Pinching her cheeks to
get to the teeth just makes her laugh, so it’s not that much
easier. When we finish with the teeth, it’s the glass of
water: Cora must turn on the water, fill the cup, turn off the
water, drink, and pour it out BY HERSELF. Of course, she must be
held up to reach the faucet, assisted with the cup, et cetera, but
the help must be inobtrusive – nay, hidden. If she feels like
you’re helping, she has to start all over again at the

Then there’s the diaper changing – “I want to
open my diaper! I want to take it off! I want to wipe my
hiney!” – followed by the nightgown: “No
nightgown! I be nakey! NO NIGHTGOWN! NOOOOOOOOOO!” The threat
of losing a book for night-night always reins her in, but
it’s still exhausting.

Next she runs off for family hugs, and if you don’t stay hard
on her heels that little stinker will run all over the house,
ostensibly looking for family members who are in the same $#@%
place every night. When I finally get her into her room to read
books, she’s all over the place – picking books,
insisting on books that aren’t in her room and crying when I
say “no”, refusing to sit in her chair – until
I’m exhausted and ready for bed myself.

Even the book-reading’s not without effort: many times Cora
will get almost all the way through a book and then say, “No!
I don’t want this book! I want a different book!” and
then cry when I tell her it’s too late to change her mind. Or
she’ll insist I missed a page – or word – and try
to go back.

By the time we get to prayers, I’m done, but she’s just
revving up. She squirms all over the chair, claiming she’s
trying to get comfortable but really just dragging it out. When
prayer time’s over we’re supposed to rock in silence
for a few minutes and then hit the crib. But now as we rock
she’s playing with my hair, singing, kicking her feet . . .
the list is endless. “Cora,” I’ll say sternly,
“It’s night-night time. Time to settle down.”
Cora will nod solemnly, and calm down for sixty seconds before
gearing up again.

I think there are a couple things going on: first, her sleep
requirements seem to be diminishing, and they weren’t great
to begin with. I don’t think she’s quite ready to drop
a nap yet, but I don’t think it’s too far away, and
that frightens me greatly since she’s too young to understand
“quiet time” in her room. I’m not sure what
I’m going to do for my Sanity Hour when that nap time goes

Second, she’s testing her boundaries, and I’m walking
that line between tightening up discipline and still realizing that
she’s only two and there’s only so much discipline she
can understand. She’s got some significant Mommy attachments,
and if I cancel her books and put her in her crib without snuggle
time she’ll feel abandoned and cry for a good hour or so, not
understanding it’s a specific behavior that caused it, but
rather thinking Mommy just doesn’t love her any more. Trust
me on this. At the same time, I’ve effectively taken one book
away before, so I’ve got at least one method of discipline
that helps keep her in line.

I know she’ll get with the program soon and I can ease up,
but for right now, honestly – this kid’s wearing me
down. Again.

Can’t wait for the teenage years.


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