By Jeanne Martin
Q: My toddler’s favorite place for napping is the dog’s bed, which greatly disturbs my husband. Should I move (possibly disturbing) our son to his crib, or just let the sleeping boy be?
A: Now I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that this is your only child, and as such, is still a source of great anxiety either awake or asleep. As the mother of two children, I can tell you that once that second one comes along there is one rule and one rule only when it comes to sleep: Whatever gets the job done. And I do mean whatever.
A new mom friend of mine, who leaned a bit toward the dramatic as it was, told me once that she used to wake her baby up to feed him. It struck me at the time as a bit of a drastic measure, but maybe the baby was under weight or slept 72 hours at a stretch, so who was I to judge? I, on the other hand, am not sure if I would have woken my three-month-old colic-embattled daughter even if the house were on fire. And I would have kicked any fireman’s ass who’d have caused the little screamy-meemey to even stir.
I have let my toddler sleep in her roller skates in an empty bathtub with two cats while her baby brother slept buck-naked under the coffee table sucking on a Tupperware lid. We have napped in shopping carts, parking lots and at my mother-in-law’s house … all of which carry their own set of serious dangers. I have let my son sleep in the pew at church for 45 minutes after Mass was over and I did not wake my daughter when she fell asleep in the bottom drawer of my china cabinet during her second birthday party.
My friend, your napping days are limited. Enjoy any peace you may be getting at nap time and unless the dog is Cujo AND has a confirmed case of rabies, let the sleeping boy lie. However, I do recommend moving your husband to the crib … or the curb.
Q: My preschool daughter freaks out if anyone says she looks “pretty” and immediately wants to change into her stained, too-small sweats. Help!
A: Let me start by telling you a little story of taking my beautiful four-year-old daughter to the Teddy Bear Tea at Christmas time. You’re conjuring up images of smocked dresses, velvet bows and patent leather shoes? Not on my child. No, she wore camouflage cutoffs, black rubber shrimp boots and a SpongeBob pajama shirt that was two sizes too small. After several hours of threats, screams, and tears (all mine) I let her wear the hideous getup and packed her puffy-sleeved dress with the blue-smocked bunnies and little white ballet shoes in my purse, hoping that when she saw the other kids all decked-out, she’d want to change. My fragile ego could not imagine walking into Windsor Court with this tiny redneck at my side; to overcompensate, I wore a formal ball gown.
Surprisingly, most of the moms gave me the “I’ve been there” sympathy look that you give other moms who have lost the battle, as my child strutted about, her head held up and belly button poking out. But as the other children were scratching and itching and bitching about the uncomfortable clothes they wore, we were comfortably enjoying the tea and snacks and the visit from Santa (who kindly gave my daughter a gift, most likely mistaking her for a homeless child).
At the root of the issue is YOU, of course! This is really your time to shine through your daughter. You need to ask yourself this one question: Am I prepared to be a pageant mom? Do I have the tenacity, talent and hot-rollers it takes to force my toddler into inappropriately short meringue dresses and size-one stilettos? ’Cause that is truly the ONLY way that you are going to get her to dress how you want. They have minds of their own, our children, and it is our job to let them be the people that they are and to sit back, point and ridicule.