Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Baby Discipline

For some time now, I've been living in mild fear of the first time my children, during the course of their own imaginative play, shed light onto the real workings of our household. You know--play house with their Little People dolls and let loose with a perfect imitation of Mama and Daddy bickering over who disciplined the baby wrong? That sort of thing?

As many Wonderland readers know by now, we've been having major sleep problems with Genevieve for over six months now. There are the epic screaming fits at bedtime, the kind that remind you of those newborn colic days, when you gird yourself each evening for the battle to come. There's the night-waking on a sometimes hourly basis, the crying and calling and night terrors and exhausted distress (I meant us, with that last one). I can't say that either of us is perfect in our middle-of-the-crisis parenting; there's nothing like indefatigable baby crying to reduce all rational thought to an incoherent, desperate list of ideas like, "Do whatever she wants!" and "Ignore her completely!" and "Find someone else to come over so we can leave the state!" In the end it's usually Christopher who deals with the bedtime battles--after all, I've dealt with all the other battles, all day long--and I don't think he'd mind if I say that he sometimes loses his patience.

This morning the girls were playing house with their baby dolls while I readied myself for the day. I could hear them next door in the playroom, murmuring about blankies and bottles and breakfast and teddy bears, strollers and nursing and naptime. Then I heard them run down the hall to their nursery to put the babies to bed under Julia's covers. But after awhile, I noticed a particular drama unfolding: Genevieve would put her baby to bed, close the door, run back down the hall to the playroom, and then, at Julia's urging, make her baby cry out: "UP! UP! UP! COME IN! COME IN! NO SLEEP! WAAAAAAAH!"

At which point Genevieve would race down the hall, throw open the nursery door, and yell none too sympathetically, "What da p'oblem? WHAT DA P'OBLEM!"

Seriously--nothing like listening to your baby illustrate just how snappish and mean the adults in the house can sometimes sound to give you a pain somewhere in the vicinity of your heart.

I gathered the girls to me and suggested that maybe they don't yell at their babies anymore, that maybe they ask them gently, "What's wrong, baby? Do you need another kiss and hug?"

In real life, though, that tactic rarely works.


Christopher Tassava said...

I sure don't mind that you say I lose my patience, though I'll point out I'm more patient (because more sleepy) at night than I am at bedtime. I start getting twitchy every evening around seven, when I spot the storm clouds on the horizon...

I think it'll be easier to be calmer tonight, now that I've been mocked. Maybe I'll have a shot of bourbon just to make sure.

Mnmom said...

At least she didn't yell "Shut UP you little shit!" at her baby. Our daughters played that once too, with me laying in bed being them. Twin #2 instructed me to cry and ask for a moogie (pacifier). I complied. She came in and yelled "YOU DON'T NEED A MOOGIE!" Exact same feeling.

Maybe Christopher could share his bourbon around.

Shan said...