Going to Bed
The Gate

June 23, 1999

Getting my daughter do go to sleep is a drama. Every. Single. Night.

My friend Lauren has a daughter Katy, a little younger than Zoe, who actually tells her mom she's ready to go to bed. At about 8:00. I hate her for this. Lauren puts Katy down, leaves, and that's it. Until morning.

It's been nightmarish as far back as I can remember. I think it stems from the fact that when she was a tiny baby I nursed her and she'd fall asleep, then I'd gently put her in her crib, and she'd be asleep.

Then she stopped falling asleep while nursing. If you tried to put her in bed while she was awake she would scream and cry. It was horrible. So we'd rock her. Chuck and I would take turns rocking. And rocking. And rocking.

I then read this book about Farberizing your kid. Basically, this involves letting them cry themselves to sleep. You put the baby in bed, awake. They cry. You wait five minutes, and go in. Comfort the baby without picking them up and then leave. Baby cries. You wait ten minutes, and then go in. Comfort without picking up, and then leave. Baby cries. You wait fifteen minutes. Same drill. You never leave them for more than fifteen minutes. It is the most hellish fifteen minutes of a new parents life. Night one is the worst. It took us probably an hour. Night two was a bit better. Maybe 25 minutes. By night three it was less than five minutes.

Then we went to New York for a week and all bets were off. The baby's crib was in our room but when you're sitting in the living room of your suite with the rest of your family in earshot and your child, their only granddaughter, niece, great niece, whatever, is hysterical on the other side of the door you don't stand a chance.

When we came back we didn't re-Farberize, we rocked.

Then it got to where you only had to rock her for like 50 hours and put her in bed but you had to sit in the room and rock in the chair. I swear she could hear the rocker on the carpet. If you as much as paused for a second a little head would pop us to make sure you were still there.

I don't remember how we stopped rocking but things got better for a while.

A crib is a wonderful thing. She would be in there, crying perhaps, but at least she was trapped. My daughter never climbed out of her crib. Never even tried. Not once.

A year ago we moved Zoe into a bed. A big girl bed. Actually it's a toddler bed but it's her big girl bed. Zoe figured out immediately that now that she was in a bed she could get out of it. Arg.

Now our nighttime ritual goes a little something like this (the only regular variation is that Chuck and I trade places of who does what):

1. We wash, brush, go potty, back to Zoe's room.
2. The pajama discussion. Lately she doesn't want to wear PJ's, only a t-shirt, OK.
2. This many stories (indicated by an ever changing display of fingers--usually three or five). We read two stories.
3. I lay down with her for a few minutes and we talk, laugh, tell secrets, or whatever.
4. Chuck comes down and I leave.
5. They laugh, tell secrets, or whatever.
6. Chuck calls me because she wants me to come back.
7. I go back and she needs me to lay down with her. I acquiesce. She's usually crying by now. I lay down. Kiss her bellybutton, we laugh, tell secrets, whatever. I then tell her I have to leave.
8. Sometimes she tries to get me to have Chuck come back. We used to buy into this and at some points we'd go back in there upwards of five times each. Now the answer is no.
9. We say goodnight, again, and Chuck and I do whatever.
10. I turn around from sitting at my desk or look up from the tv to see Zoe sitting in the kitchen. She also likes to sit in the doorway from the hall that leads to her bedroom. You can't see her there so she gets away with being out of bed for longer.
11. She is shepherded back to bed and the gate goes up.
12. She begs us not to put The Gate up.
13. After many tears and a lot of begging she falls asleep, usually.

Zoe hates when The Gate goes up. We're transitioning from Pull Ups to panties for sleeping. So if she is caught out of her room she just says she has to go potty. That girl can work the system. If she's going potty she's allowed to get out of bed so The Gate doesn't go up. On the way back to her room she'll ask if she's getting The Gate.

Lately, instead of coming to the door of my office she's been going to the guest bedroom to hang out with Natasha. Tonight I walked past her room, noticed her missing, and immediately headed for the guest bedroom. No Zoe in the bed in there. I called her and there she came, crawling out from under the bed. She was put back in her room and The Gate went up.

Earlier this week, at about 10:30, when she should have been asleep for two hours, Chuck found her under her bed, playing with one of the cats.

Then she's scared. Or thirsty. Or she has to go potty. Or the dogs are 'sturbing her. Or. Or. Or.

That girl has more excuses not to go to bed then Carter has little liver pills.

I can't wait to go to bed at night. No one has to force me. When will she learn how good she has it?

Until next time. . .