Rita, Eden, and I were emailing recently about how our books have recently celebrated (in their own quiet, unassuming way) their birthdays. Sleep is For The Weak is now a five-year-old, while Let's Panic About Babies is in its Terrible Twos. (Or "Terrific Twos," which is what the pre-pre-school program Henry attended was called. Those liars. Terrifying, maybe. I guess no one would have signed up for a class called "Terrifying Twos." I would have, and maybe that's why we had so few playdates.
Oh, memories. Puzzling, dark memories.)
ANYHOO, we thought we'd each do a giveaway to celebrate these milestones, because look, someone has to. Our books are feeling terribly neglected.
Sleep is For The Weak is a collection of the best of various parenting blogs. I had a bunch of posts in there about the toddler years, and reading them now is awfully therapeutic. I can't look at pictures of him at that age without choking up and whispering "Sunrise, Sunset" while my lower lip trembles and falls off. And then I read only slightly exaggerated moments such as this one, when he presented his list of demands:
1. Will be ALL THE TIME, unless I say differently. While watching TELEVISION, you are to sit by my side, quietly, hands folded in lap, whilst I enjoy my shows.
a. You may arise to fetch me a SNACK or a DRINK.
2. No DIAPER CHANGING or PLEAS TO ENGAGE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY will be tolerated during the watching of the TELEVISION.
3. Turning off of the television will result in much SCREAMING.
1. There will be many.
a. They will always be strewn about the house so that I may simply reach down and pick up a toy, no matter where I am.
b. They will be loud, complicated, and contain many small bits. I enjoy the SHOOTING NOISES that go w-shooooop or zim zim zim.
c. Nothing that results in LEARNING, please.
And I feel much better. Now he's evolved enough that, were he to request a thing, I can respond with an observation like, "You can buy that once you've saved up enough allowance," or "You can get that yourself, you big, strapping boy." Or I can simply raise an eyebrow and he gets my meaning. Sure, he reacts, but it's nothing compared to toddler behavior. The worst that happens is he goes to his room and slides angry notes under the door. So fun.
I miss the toddler-to-preschooler years more than I miss having a baby around, I have to say. Babies are cute and all, but they're kind of lumpish. Squealing and lumpish. And they never ask you how your day has been. Still, they have that nice head-smell. I don't know, those years are all a blur. Occasionally I'll get weepy over some goddamn cute picture, and then I can always reach for solace in our book, which is also only slightly exaggerated. Excerpt alert!
How do you train a baby to sleep through the night? It's easier than you think. Just follow this simple procedure exactly, with absolutely no variations at all.
8:00 p.m. Put Baby down in the crib.
8:05 p.m. Pace nervously outside nursery as the shrieking starts up.
8:07 p.m. Rummage through refrigerator for snacks. Loud rummaging will drown out the crying.
8:10 p.m. Enter Baby's room and pat her back three times. Not four times. Three. Say "Shhh" four times, in three-second intervals. Retreat quickly.
8:13 p.m. Glare at husband. Surely this is partly his fault.
8:15 p.m. Cry for a little while.
9:00 p.m. Go back into Baby's room. Pick up Baby. Swear to Baby that you'll never leave her alone again. Rock her until your arms go numb.
10:45 p.m. Put Baby back down. Dim lights. Whoops. You forgot to do that at 8 p.m., didn't you? Just because I didn't specifically say to? Must I spell out everything?
11:00 p.m. Back into Baby's room. Three pats on the back. Not too hard, now.
11:15 p.m. Your husband's asleep. Stand over him, seething.
11:30 p.m. Back in Baby's room, your mere presence will soothe her. Without touching her, reassure her that you are there, and that you're just going in the other room, just for a little bit, it's not like anyone is disappearing, for Christ's sake, isn't she being a little dramatic?
11:45 p.m. Loudly ask your husband if he wants to take over for a little bit, maybe, if it's not too much trouble. He reluctantly gets up. Reluctantly, though. Christ!
12:00 a.m. Try to sleep but don’t because you're now furious and can't believe you ever thought getting married was a good idea.
1:00 a.m. Wake up, even though you didn't realize you were sleeping in the first place. Hear your husband muttering angrily while pacing back and forth with Baby.
1:15 a.m. Tell him he's not doing it right and to just forget it.
1:30 a.m. How does he get to sleep so fast? Jerk.
1:45 a.m. Place Baby back in crib. Dim the lights again, do those soothing "shhh" sounds AGAIN. Back slowly out of room.
1:47 a.m. She just woke up. Pat her back seven times.
1:50 a.m. Okay, ten times. But no more. Now retreat. Retreat!
2:00 a.m. Reassure Baby from other side of door that you're still around. Continue to reassure as needed.
3:30 a.m. Is your voice getting hoarse? I recommend recording your voice and replaying on a continuous loop!
4:00 a.m. Accidentally throw something at husband, injuring him into consciousness.
4:30 a.m. There's silence! Run into room because you think something's wrong, but nothing is wrong! The baby is asleep, and you can be, too!
5:00 a.m. Wake up because you thought you heard the baby, but it turns out you didn't.
5:15 a.m. Oh, wait, you did. Crap.
5:30 a.m. Baby's up for the day, full of smiles and burbles. You made it! Sort of.
Do this every night until it works, or Baby enlists in the military.
Guess what ten-year-olds do? They go to sleep on their own, like sensible people. Really, there's no contest.
Speaking of contests, she segues effortlessly, would you like your very own copy of our books? Did you know that Mother's Day is coming up? And what could be a better gift for the prospective mother or harried mother of a relatively small person? If you want in, comment thusly: if you have a child, explain what your favorite age has been. If you don't have a kid, you can either tell me about a niece or nephew or some beloved family member, OR your own memories of when you were particularly charming.