Thursday, April 07, 2011

Because how can I sleep, Mom, when I've just found my own feet?

Sleep has been kind of touch and go here at chez parisienne. The kids are happy enough to sleep, but on their own terms.

This weekend we went to Troyes, our first trip as a family of four. Or make that seven, for we joined my mother- and father-in-law and my husband's aunt. As my husband rightly predicted, it was just the adult/child ratio I needed, recovering as I was from some the same flu-like crud that le Petit brought home from school last week. (For the record, when he told me that his tummy felt "funny" and his throat hurt, it turned out to be a very apt description.)

We'd planned to sleep upstairs in the two attic bedrooms, with le Petit in one of the very same cozy twin beds my husband had slept in as a child, my husband and me in a double bed under the eaves, and Mademoiselle in a pack-n-play. Le Petit, who is always skeptical of novelty, was game at first, then for some reason that was never elucidated but must've been blindingly rational to a three-year-old, he changed his mind. Right before bedtime.

We, of course, decided to make it into a You-Have-To-Because-We're-The-Parents teachable moment that lasted a total of two hours. We tried bad cop/good cop, then switched roles as we got nowhere and frustrated. As I was nursing Mademoiselle to sleep, I heard my husband speaking remarkably calmly with le Petit, trying and failing to find out just what the heck the problem was.

"Why don't you want to sleep here? Are you afraid of something?"

"Yes. The light in the stairway."

"OK, I'll hide that. Anything else?"

"Yes, that." Le Petit was apparently pointing at something on the wall.

I listened as my husband fixed up the room taking all the pictures off the wall, methodically hiding objects and turning frames around per le Petit's instructions. I alternately thought "I could handle this so much better" and "better him than me." I knew I should and later would find this oh-so-amusing. I also suspected there was something we were supposed to be learning here, some new parenting skill that we couldn't acquire any other way. Trial by caprice.

The two solutions we offered -- either sleep with Mommy, Daddy and Mademoiselle upstairs, or sleep on a mattress on the floor next to Grandma and Grandpa's bed downstairs -- were entirely unacceptable. Le Petit was so tired he could barely keep his eyes open, but he kept whining the good whine, fighting for his cause. "Tout le monde en BAS," he insisted, then repeated, "Everyone DOWNstairs," in English, for good measure. Meanwhile, Mademoiselle woke up.

That was when we realized we'd lost, and we moved the entire family downstairs. My father-in-law carefully negotiated the narrow stairs with one of the twin mattresses as my mother-in-law graciously changed everyone's sheets, and neither complained of their exile to the attic. Le Petit was soon snoring like a freight train in the middle of the floor, where I had to grumpily tiptoe around him after nursing Mademoiselle down for the second and then the third and last time that night.

Sometimes you've gotta give in, I guess. Lesson learned: better to do it earlier, before you feel like a complete idiot and before an excellent pot-au-feu is cold.

Troyes was otherwise fantastic, and just the break I needed. Mademoiselle was wide-eyed with surprise most of the time as if we'd taken her to another planet. For a baby born in the dead of winter, a warm afternoon spent in a garden watching nodding yellow and red tulip blooms can be a bit overwhelming, I suppose. She wasn't sure what she thought of the pack-n-play and napped only reluctantly. Meanwhile, le Petit ran around the garden with the watering can, enthusiastically dousing plants. He was overjoyed when he figured out how to turn on the outdoor faucet and flood the path to the front door. He planted carrots and peas with preschool-sized handfuls, and when we tried to show him how to sow in lines he formed precise mounds of seeds instead.

Now, back in Paris, poor Mademoiselle still can't always nap, since yesterday I made the mistake of having a cup of real coffee in the morning. I'd been suspecting the caffeine hypothesis I'd made back in December was just superstition, and got the bright idea to test it. On a Wednesday, when le Petit was home all day from school, as I'd later regret. As a result, Mademoiselle didn't nap from 10:30 in the morning until four o'clock in the afternoon, and I guiltily put the whole family in front of the television to zone out to BBC nature DVDs. This morning, under what was perhaps still the lingering effects of her unwitting café au lait binge, Mademoiselle was up for the day at five-thirty in the morning.

Or maybe it's all just foot-related excitement. Mademoiselle, now allowed to be barefoot regularly for the first time in her life thanks to the balmy spring weather, has found her feet. She can grab them! And feel the toes! And they seem to be attached, which makes them so much more convenient than all those other toys that keep disappearing mysteriously! And whenever she grabs them, there's Mommy cooing and cheering and taking pictures. What could be more exciting than that?

I'm sure that if I were in her bare feet, I would hardly be able to sleep, either.


hush said...

"I alternately thought "I could handle this so much better" and "better him than me." ... I also suspected there was something we were supposed to be learning here, some new parenting skill that we couldn't acquire any other way. Trial by caprice." LOL! So true!!!

Cloud said...

Ah, the difficulty in deciding when to give in and when to plow ahead and insist on whatever trivial parenting decision you've made. If I ever figure out the right balance, I'll write a book, I suppose.

I hope Mademoiselle sleeps better for you soon!

The Le Petit nighttime shuffle reminds me of one of the trips we took with Pumpkin, in which we carefully shopped for a hotel with a separate room for her to sleep in. Then she insisted that she would only sleep on the sofa in our suite. So now, we don't worry so much about getting her a bed of her own!

Zenmoo said...

Ha! I know exactly the 'I could do that better' and 'better him than me' feeling so well...

Spring sounds beautiful... It's just cooled down a little her in Perth. It was only 23 deg yesterday - which after four months of 30+ felt very refreshing!