I may not ever forget what happened last night. Yesterday we spent a quiet day at home. I spent a lot of time with Elena, because Jenny had to finish preparing a talk she’ll be giving today in church. Everything had gone exceptionally well, especially for me, because Elena had chosen to be a Daddy’s girl.
When her normal eight o’clock bedtime rolled around, everything changed. For no discernible reason, Elena started to cry while Jenny was putting on her pajamas. Although I usually read her some bedtime stories, she rejected me and Jenny had to do it. Her crying was still on a hair trigger, but there didn’t seem to be anything causing it. When we tried to sing to her and put her down, she wailed like a banshee. Once we picked her up again, she quieted down surprisingly quickly.
I’m convinced that she just didn’t want to go to bed. We tried everything we could think of–we let her play a while longer, read more books, gave her some warm milk. Jenny and I alternated turns in her darkened room, rocking her until she fell asleep. But each time we tried to transfer her to her crib, she woke up again and started crying.
Near midnight, I told Jenny that she needed to sleep and I would do what it took to put Elena down. After we watched a little TV, she seemed ready and we headed upstairs. I let her lead me into the master bedroom instead of her own, which was a huge mistake, because she climbed into bed with Jenny, who was still not asleep. If that had helped Elena to fall asleep, we may have taken it, but it only served the purpose of waking Jenny up again.
Finally, I barricaded Elena and myself into her room, with the lights out. I lay down on the floor and tried to wait her out, but she kept on playing with her toys, even though the lights were out. I put toys and books in her crib, to entice her to go into it, but as soon as I attempted to place her in there, the waterworks started again.
I’m not proud that my anger level started to rise. I tried to show some self control and go back to the only technique that had worked at least partially. I held and rocked her, and despite her initial resistance she again fell asleep before too long. Once she drifted off, I held her longer than before, waiting for her to fall into a different stage of sleep.
With my arms falling asleep, I carefully stood up from the rocking chair. Elena started to stir, and I worried. By the time I got her into the crib, I was worried because she appeared to have woken; she sat right up. Instead of crying, though, a miracle occurred: it was as if she had forgotten all of the night’s strife. She seemed to be back to her normal self, happy to go to sleep. She laid down, I put her blankets over her, she waved goodbye and said ni-ni, and I walked out. When I closed the door, nothing happened. She was going to sleep.