Sunday, March 29, 2009

Night Sixteen

I've been meaning to update everyone on the progress of Genevieve's Sleep-Training Intervention. As you may recall, more than two weeks ago, in a fit of desperation, I decided to finally (hopefully) eliminate my toddler's year-long bedtime crying fits once and for all, by sitting by her crib until she fell asleep at night and then gradually moving out of the room. It was 16 nights ago that I began this process.

Does it surprise any of you who know Genevieve that we're on day 17, and still at it? Probably not.

Two nights ago I crossed the nursery threshold for the first time and sat in the hallway, the door cracked several inches so she would know I was there. She wasn't sure about this at first, but acquiesced. Last night I swung the door shut too soon, hoping to creep away amidst the silence, but she protested my haste and I was forced to re-open it and call out to her, "It's OK, Vivi, Mama's still here, I'm right outside the door, now go to sleep nicely." She eventually did. At the suggestion of a friend's mom, I think tonight (or soon) I'll further the transition to independent bedtime by telling her that I'll be outside the door for 20 minutes, that she can rest easily knowing I'll be there for a set period, and then I'll go when it's time, because she's fine. I don't want to trick her by pretending to stay outside the door but not, even if she can't really see me through the crack, because I'm afraid to jeopardize the tenuous trust we've formed during this bedtime intervention. Genevieve won't know what 20 minutes means, but she'll get the general idea.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that during this period of patience-testing sleep-training, I've begun to seriously reconsider our previous decision to wait an extra year before sending Genevieve to preschool. She's such an extreme rascal, and lately I've been thinking about the fact that in the fall, Julia will be gone every morning to kindergarten. It will be just me with Genevieve, five mornings a week. Since I shamelessly rely on Julia to help entertain, distract, and mollify Ms. Crabbypants, I'm starting to wonder if I'm crazy to voluntarily postpone Genevieve's entry into the preschool's Threes Class. True, she'll be a baby of an incoming three-year-old (late summer birthday and all that). And true, she's not even close to potty-training (I've tabled that project until after the sleep dilemma is resolved; a toddler--and a parent!--can only tackle so much Extreme Developmental Progress at one time). Also true, we were looking forward to saving nearly $1,000 on preschool tuition next year, a sum that could make our daily lives much more financially manageable. But then again: I MIGHT GO INSANE.

The problem is, time is running out. The class is almost filled, and if I want a spot for Genevieve, I've got to make a decision SOON.

So there you have it. Every night, I sit in the hallway in the dark outside the cracked nursery door, and I rack my brain for an answer to what to do with Genevieve. I have a very strong feeling that I'm going to be doing this very thing, more or less, for the next 20 years.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. As the mother of an equally extreme rascal (newly-turned-three-year-old who is my younger daughter), I can identify with the preschool quandry. Can you register her now and decide closer to fall whether or not to send her? Maybe you'd only lose a small deposit if you decided "no" at that point? Since you chair the board, would the preschool waive some of the tuition (something of a barter) for all the work you put in on their behalf? Just brainstorming here . . .

Perhaps Genevieve would be more palatable as a family member if she had the outside stimulation of preschool, despite the financial hardship it might cause. I know that with my older daughter in public K now, my younger very much looks forward to her mornings at "big girl school" (church preschool), and wants to be just like her big sister. I also find that she behaves MUCH better for her preschool teachers than she does for me. That is a comfort, as we often ask ourselves (my husband and I), "Now, WHERE did this child come from???" Good luck with your decisions!

- your faithful Georgia blog reader

Shan said...

Dear Georgia reader,
I'm glad you can identify. It is somehow comforting! I think that is exactly what I am going to have to do: register her, and lose the nonrefundable $55 registration fee if later on we decide to stick with the original plan of waiting a year. I'm a nervous wreck worrying that I'll miss the last open spot and in July or August will be miserable with regret that I'm not sending her! (And not just because I need the break, but also because I fear she'll continue to blossom socially and be more than ready for the structure and activity of preschool, and then not be able to go. It could be a long year if that happens.) I hate to spend the $55 and possibly lose it; that's not a minor sum to us. But my sanity might be worth the price.

Oh, and p.s.--our Genevieve, too, behaves far, far better for others than she does at home. We go to a toddler class during which she is alone with teachers and kids for part of the time while I attend a parent meeting. No one there can believe my stories of Genevieve's personality.

donna said...

I totally understand your predicament. But, I would also venture to say that you should put down the $55 as 'insurance.' It would be worse for you to not have a space for her (if you decide that's what you want) and then you'd need to decide to send her to another school (which I know isn't an option for your family's priorities) or figure out ways to entertain and stimulate her for another year.

Yes, $55 isn't trivial, but if it were me, it's worth having the option.

Good luck with your decision.

Trish said...

All I can say is your sleep training seems to be WORKING! You are outside the room and at least you can rest easy knowing you are there rather than in the room worried if you breathe too hard it could wake her. I am so excited for you!!! Woo!

Shan said...

Thank you for the positive reminder, Trish! It's nice to get a cheer for all the hard work! :)

latisha said...

i have a love/hate with this story. i too have a troubled sleeper and it seems, after reading and trying every trick in every book we just have to make do when she's deciding not to sleep.

shes back to calm bedtimes with 8 hour nights but i fear the future with your stories. then again your little one seems to get back on track too. even though it takes some mamma sacrifice. ugh.

i wish people with good sleepers would read your stories. they just never understand.

Shan said...

Latisha--even worse, people with good sleepers seem to think those of us with poor sleepers are "doing it wrong"! They don't seem to understand it is LUCK, PURE LUCK. I can say that because I'm an experienced parent of two. Beyond the obvious (i.e., using a bedtime routine, putting them to bed at a reasonable hour, etc.) it's luck, luck, luck.