Maddie and I were playing strong well after her bedtime last night. It was just 15 minutes before eight pm and I knew we were playing with house money. Surely just one night of staying up late wouldn’t have any serious repercussions. I had the baby in bed at eight, just one measly little hour past her bedtime.
I went to bad that night with the satisfaction of a job well done. It never occurred to me that I was setting myself up for a beating the next day. However, as soon I got to the crib this morning, I could tell little Miss Sunshine was far out of sorts. OK, so she was a little bit snippy and a tad whiny, but surely that would pass – or would it?
It turns out that Maddie had a great deal to say about not getting enough sleep the night before. Every time it seemed like Maddie had turned the corner, she was bent out of shape again. She had some jovial stretches in there, but for the most part, it was a rough day at the baby office.
During mealtime, Maddie’s patience would dry up the second she did not get something she wanted. Even our outdoor time was a bit sketchy. Naps also helped for brief periods of time, but Maddie made today’s lesson very clear. Get me in bed at a decent hour or you will pay the piper!
Just moments after Maddie’s mom left for a business trip, things started to unravel for Stay Home PaPa. Before beginning our bedtime routine, I thought Maddie’s outfit seemed a little too fancy for feeding time.
We went back to the changing table to take care of what should have been a quick change. Within 20 seconds it became painfully obvious, “Houston, we have a problem.” I have no idea how her mother got this thing on the baby in the first place, but it was some type of Hannibal Lecter straight jacket that had NO intention of coming off.
And let me tell you, there are few things Maddie hates more than jerking around with difficult clothing. The longer we struggled, the more the baby’s frustration level edged towards the redline. C’mon, this isn’t my first ‘undress the baby’ rodeo, what was the ancient secret I was missing to undoing this Gordian Knot?
I obviously needed more room to maneuver. I scooped up Maddie and we went to the bed where we both would have some more room to work with. This only made things worse. Now Maddie was thrashing around like a Marlin on the hook and I was in grave danger of serious bodily injury. At this point, I was seriously considering gently ripping the back off of the garment for a nice clean removal.
Before taking this extreme measure, I decided to get a woman’s opinion. Maddie and I went downstairs to see if our neighbor Cynthia had any bright ideas for us. It turned out that getting this thing off was a two-person job.
We pried off that straight jacket, thanked Cynthia and headed upstairs for some dinner. Just as we got to the top of the stairs, Maddie ejected a stream of spit up that spackled a different neighbor’s door. “You can not be serious!” It took another trip to Cynthia’s door to get that mess cleaned up.
So Maddie’s mom is gone less than an hour and the baby and I are mired in some lost episode of the Three Stooges. This is shaping up to be a very exciting week!
You can fool some babies some of the time – but you can’t fool Maddie. Maddie and I play a good deal of peek-a-boo and sneak up games with each other. This is due to the fact that Maddie was born observant and loves to catch people in the act of doing whatever it is that they do.
Few things rip into a peaceful bedtime routine like the curse of the late afternoon/early evening nap. But what can do when that’s when the baby wants to nap? Apparently, not too much.
When Maddie snags a good nap in the morning or early afternoon, bedtime is a breeze. But if she is still napping around 4pm, undesirable nuggets can hit the fan with great velocity. There was a time when we foolishly believed that any nap the baby took was a good one. Maddie has been more than happy to dispel this misconception for us.
At 5pm this afternoon we could feel our anxiety mounting as Maddie slept like the angel she truly is. At this point we knew two things were in store for us.
- Once the baby woke up, she would be in a wonderful mood.
- Once it was time for bed, it would be time to pay the piper and deal with what we like to call the wild banana syndrome.
Both of these predictions soon came to pass. Maddie woke up sweet as sugar magnolias. She was fun, charming and bursting with love. We fed her pork and vegetables and she was the perfect little lady.
But once it was time for bed, a dark shadow crept over the house. That sweet disposition tuned sour and the angry bedtime antics began. First came the angry protests that quickly escalated into an-all out temper tantrum. The nerve of these idiot parents trying to put me to bed, do I look tired to you??
Letting Maddie work it out in the crib is never a big hit either. She expects full payment of these parental follies and wants it all up front. She also demonstrates great athletic prowess by flipping from one side of the crib to the other.
In the end, it just takes a little extra love and patience along with about 45 minutes of hanging out in close proximity to the crib. Eventually the queen burns herself out and is hopefully asleep for the night. All that’s left to do is go to bed early and hope tomorrow delivers an earlier naptime that doesn’t trigger another extended witching hour.
I guess we can add Daylight Savings Time to the list of things that we mistakenly did not think would impact the baby. With Maddie’s final cranium appointment right smack in the middle of the afternoon, things were bound to be somewhat out of whack. But once we got home from the appointment, Maddie’s Dad made a severe miscalculation. This error in judgment would have far reaching negative implications for the remainder of the evening.
The miscalculation was simple enough. We got home at 4pm, which meant there was not enough time to put Maddie down for a nap before her bedtime. Had I thought it through just a little bit more, I would have taken into account that as far as Maddie was concerned, it was only 3pm. This misstep put Maddie and I on a collision course for some rough evening action of the ugly variety.
Earlier in the day on the way to Maddie’s appointment, she did take two separate naps in the car. But these naps were not long enough to cope with the ensuing sleep shortage. The only course of action was to feed her quickly and try to fend off the looming crisis.
I started Maddie off with an apricot mixture and the evening was coming together better than expected. But after about ten spoonfuls, fatigue and crankiness took over. Maddie began rubbing this apricot sauce into her both of her eyes. When I tried to dissuade her from this fruity path to blindness – she lost it. She went from the happy baby to the pea soup spitting Linda Blair in about five seconds.
So now we’re on the rocky path to an early, but angry bedtime. The rest of the feeding was a disaster. There was crying, pouting, spitting and using the remainder of her food as a new wave hair-care product.
Step two was a quickie bath that actually didn’t go too badly.
Step three was bedtime and the commotion began anew. There were heavy protests despite the fact that her father’s complaint department had shut down 30 minutes earlier.
The worst part of course is dealing with the fact that your poor decision-making caused the problem in the first place. But as usual, all you can do is learn from your mistakes before your daughter begins issuing a series of pink slips, reprimands and demerits.
Sweet Madeleine is my amazing and mesmerizing seven and half month old daughter. About a week ago, Maddie’s parents ran into a scheduling conflict. Both of us had previous engagements right smack in the middle of the baby’s bedtime on the same night. So the answer was easy, one of us would have to skip our event.
But before taking that step – we pondered the pros and cons of bringing in a third party to put Maddie down to sleep. It was gut check time – Were we really ready to turn Maddie over to a family babysitter?
Our throats went dry as we pondered the possible outcomes.
- What if the baby’s inner honey badger strikes?
- What if Maddie became inconsolable?
- What if she goes medieval on Ahmadinejad?
Silly stuff to be sure, but we never expected to even consider a move like this so early in the game. So I made the call to my Mom and asked her if she could entertain the princess for a couple of hours. My parents jumped at the offer, but I wondered if I was putting too much on them.
Maddie’s other grandmother, MiMi, has fought the good fight many times and successfully put the baby to bed. But in each case, we were staying with her or she was staying with us. This time we were calling in reinforcements during Maddie’s witching hour.
During a typical day, from about 5am to 4pm – Maddie is pretty peachy. She has her moments, but the girl is in a perpetual good mood. But once the day starts winding down, I like to use a saying I learned while living in the Deep South – She gets snakes in the head. Simple translation, my honey bunny morphs into the honey badger. The bottom lip replaces her smile, her laugh is drowned out by grunts of protest and a crying fit or two is not out of the question.
My parents showed up bright-eyed and busy-tailed just before 4pm. Things went swimmingly from the start and Maddie was more than happy to have an extended audience. So far, so good!
We all ate dinner together, but the time for me to leave was fast approaching. I could feel the doubt creeping in, but I didn’t want to get melodramatic. I gave Maddie a bath and set her up on my mom’s lap for a final bottle before bedtime. Maddie started a little bit of crying and fussiness and I could feel my will weakening. My mom assured me that all was well, but Maddie was eyeing me suspiciously.
I left the house peppered with guilt, only to find out later that my fears were unfounded. The evening was a great success as my wife arrived home to find a quiet and orderly house where Maddie was sleeping without a care in the world. Maddie’s grandparents made all the right moves and Maddie proved once again that she is AWESOME!