Negotiating with Terrorists
April 13th, 2011
If you’d been able to peer down into Miss Mouse’s bedroom last night, you’d have witnessed her mother, hopping like a bunny around her room. Why, you ask, would her mother engage in such a ridiculous activity? Answer: I do what it takes to get that child in bed.
The hopping is a vestige of an earlier love and logic paradigm I’d attempted a couple weeks ago. She was being difficult and crying whenever I left the room so I posed the question – “Do you want Mommy to hop out of the room or twirl out of the room?” – in an attempt to circumvent her true desire, which was for me not to leave the room at all. Now, of course, I have to do it all the time.
Yes, friends, my daughter knows a sucker when she sees one and is happy to ruthlessly exploit her mother’s weaknesses.
She never tries those tricks with Josh. From day one, he’s been a hardliner, refusing to negotiate with terrorists, even when they stick out their lower lips charmingly. Me? My political strategy has tended more towards appeasement and now I’m paying the price. I was always the one to crack and read one more story, give one more kiss (to her, to her bunny, to her pillow, etc.), and generally allow for bedtime-stalling shenanigans.
So these days I’m slowing having to regain control, drawing one line in the sand after another as I renegotiate the battle lines with a three foot tall master manipulator.
We do a lot of question and answer leading up to bedtime to help establish the rules. How many stories tonight, Mouse? One. How many songs? One. How many prayers? One. How many kisses? Two. How many hugs? Two. What are you supposed to do when Mommy puts you in bed? Stay there. And — slowly — we’re making progress. I actually managed a tear-free bedtime last night, even if I did have to hop out the door.
There’s one area, though, that I’m happy to let slide, and that’s the bedtime snuggle. Some while back, Miss Mouse started asking to snuggle before bed. It’s become my favorite part of bedtime so I have simply added it officially to our bedtime routine. After bath and story and prayers (but before singing Puff the Magic Dragon), Miss Mouse grabs her comforter off her bed and clambers into my lap. She burrows her head into my shoulder and we both sigh and relax. I take that opportunity to whisper into her ear that she is my one and only Mouse and that I am so very lucky to have her.
It adds a few extra minutes to an already-long bedtime routine, but life is way too short to ban snuggling.