Thursday, April 22, 2010

How To Manage A Grower

Here's how I handle my babies when they're no longer babies, but I still want them to be babies:



It's naptime. No -- actually it's far past naptime. Lauren has been in her bed for over an hour, squealing and giggling about God knows what. Then, alternatively, wailing and whining about God knows what. I'm frazzled by her lack of silence. I need the silence in the middle of the day to counterbalance the constant noises of morning and afternoon.

I've given her strict upbraidings: Lauren! Be Quiet! It's sleep-time! I've given her calm instruction: Lauren, it's time to sleep, close your eyes and shhhhh.... I've torn at my hair as the minutes passed, not happy about the nightmare of an afternoon we'd be having if she didn't give in and go to sleep. I've refused to pick up the pillow and blankies and blanket and lambie she's tossed across the room. And I'm lost.

What can I do? If she won't calm down and sleep, I can't do anything about it. She's not a baby anymore, I can't just hold her and rock her until she drifts away, lips parted, eyes twitching, hands clutching at my shirt.

Can I? Listening to her full-out cry at the injustice of being trapped in her bed, I make a decision.
Quietly, I enter her room, closing the door behind me. She stops her rant, and looks at me in confusion: is it time to get up? Will she get her pillow back? But instead, I reach into her crib,where she's sprawled cross-wise, feet up on the railings (the better to kick her anger away). I draw her up in my arms, and carry her to the pile of bedding. I pick out a blankie and lambie and step over to the rocking chair, lowering us down into its pink cushions. I lay Lauren's tear-streaked face on my shoulder, tuck her arms around my abdomen, fold her legs across my lap, and hold her.

She lifts her eyes up to see what this means -- this holding during the middle of naptime? -- and I kiss her nose before drawing her head back down. She adjusts her arms: both in front -- one on either side -- both in front again. She taps her toes against my calf, pushing and shifting. I fear she won't settle down, but she's quiet, so I keep still. She picks up her lambie, kisses it on the nose, and brings it to my face. I pretend to be sleeping -- like she'll see my closed eyes and say 'Oh! That's how you do it.' before immediately closing her own -- while she makes her lambie kiss my eyes. She makes her kiss noises just like my Grandpa used to: with a little pop-cluck of the tongue at the end. Each of my eyes are kiss-pop-clucked, and then she snuggles lambie back into the crook of her elbow.

One minute later, she's very still.

Two minutes later, she's very quiet.

Three minutes later, she twitches involuntarily.

Four minutes later, her breathing is smooth and steady.

Five minutes later, she gives a quiet snore.

I tilt her back into my arms and s l o w l y lift us up from the chair. She mumbles a startled syllable before curling into a more comfortable position, and I lay her in her pillowless bed. I cover her with a corner of her blankie, and back away from my sleeping daughter.

Just like when she was a baby.

I swear, for just a minute there (around the heavy, steady breathing, I think), instead of a talkative, leggy toddler, she was a baby again.

But just for a minute.

11 comments:

  1. Oh it's always so precious to have those "you're still my little baby" moments with our growing up kids. I, however, have not have the same success, or patience, and have just ceased trying to put my Lauren aged daughter down for a nap. And actually I'm quite enjoying having time in the afternoon to go out and DO things rather than being stuck at home praying that she'll actually fall asleep today.

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  2. *sigh*

    Today I tried to snuggle Gabriel like he was a baby and we both ended up giggling from the effort of it all: me trying to fold his legs up on my lap and get him tucked small enough so I could hold him entirely. In the end, we had to let his long legs dangle and I hugged him around the waist like the small man-child that he is.

    But even when he really is a man, he's always be my baby, right? :)

    And I repeat: You're killing me with these posts! But keep 'em coming, because they're so darn good ;)

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  3. This post is...absolutely perfect. A present moment captured and well-written. It has made my day. Thank you.

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  4. And what a lovely minute in the middle of your growing girl's day.

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  5. SUCH a good read.... I'm a little teary actually! Paige is at that point too, and it's so tough, but so sweet at times :)

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  6. Gail - I'm waiting for those days to come, when more naps are skipped than otherwise, but HOPING they're far off. Hoping, hoping :)

    Lenae - I know! They're killing me too! I'm just TERRIBLY attached to the idea of my babies this week, for some reason. Probably because I'm not pregnant. Not that I'm trying to be, but still. The red dragon kind of nails it home, you know?

    Maia - You're so sweet! I'm glad you liked it :)

    Jill - It WAS lovely. And the best part is, that I knew it at the time. I soaked it up and didn't take it for granted. Go me :)

    Corinne - Tough and sweet. Yes, ma'am. Do you think it'll ever become easy and sweet? I wonder...

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  7. I don't think you could possibly word things more perfectly and beautifully! Amazing! You catch everything about a special moment! So sweet! I'm trying to capture every "baby-like" sweet moment possible--how quickly they grow!
    (maybe if I told them to you, you could write them so sweetly and sell them back to me :)...just a thought for us creative writing impaired peeps!)

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  8. Okay, so now you have me seriously considering sneaking into the girls' room and scooping them into my lap, even though it's past 11pm and I know it could risk waking them. But I miss rocking them while they're sleeping! Very sweet post!

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  9. Levi still requires cuddling before he'll go to sleep...nap time and night time.

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  10. Such a soothing post.. even as I was trying to replicate the pop-cluck sound as I read :)

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  11. Oh, my heart is so full after reading this. The tenderness, the love, the serenity -- I love it.
    And I just think we mothers are so powerful in our response to the chaos and how we respond makes such a difference.
    Thank you for sharing this. So beautiful.

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?