Hidden amongst all the paraphernalia that makes up a little girl’s bedroom – the doggy money box, the carefully framed and stickered Polaroids, the twirly hanging paper things from pre-school, the ballet kit from the five minutes she loved ballet – is a mechanical clock that for about a month was our saviour. Everyone’s heard the mythical tales of the gro clock; how they changed their child’s sleep pattern forever, how they didn’t hear a peep from them between the hours of 7pm and 7am, etc etc, and annoyingly, I was one of these obsessive parents spouting platitudes for a bit, too.
I thought about this time last night, as I was perched on my usual hangout at 7.20pm (the stairs). I remembered how we carefully trained our just turned two year old daughter on how to not call us until the sun came up at 6.30 (7 would have been pushing it – how I miss these days) and how we stayed with her every morning, making a big deal when the clock finalllllyyyy turned orange, and how, eventually, we were woken by ‘the sun’s up, the sun’s up!’ at an acceptable time in the morning. And the month of smugness and bliss that followed. Yes, after two years, we had finally cracked her sleeping.
Obviously, a million and one phases then proved that, no, actually that was not the case, but none of them have been like the new one we reached last night when she just refused to go to bed. At all. Not only that, but she was literally swinging from the banisters with a defiant look on her face after marching out her room for the 50th time. It was like she had just realised that, actually, I had no power. I could drag her back into her room but, short of barricading the door (can I- no) I couldn’t make her stay there. I think I was 15 before I realised your parents can’t actually stop you doing anything. She had the same look of amazed, shocked joy I must have had it when it hit me I could just do it anyway. I was torn between a) wanting to understand why my oldest child, four next month, has overnight turned from the most well-behaved goody goody I know into a rebel and b) wanting to go downstairs, watch Orange is the New Black, scroll mindlessly through Instagram and eat the curry burning on the hob.
What can I say? B) won. After accompanying her to bed for the 1000th time, we both realised this wasn’t going to end and came to a silent agreement. She lay down, closed her eyes for thirty seconds and let me pretend I had won. As a thank-you, when she sat up two and a half minutes later and said she had just woken up, could she come into my bed now*, I graciously surrendered. The days of solving sleep issues with quick fixes are long over, but hey, if my child is an evil, naughty genius, at least she’s one that still likes cuddles with her mummy. I’ll take that.
*We have a rule in our house that she has to go to bed in her bed, but can come sleep in our bed in the night if she wants, where she can appear anytime from 10pm to not at all (rare). It is a weak, oft-maniuplated rule born from a desire for an easy, weak-willed life. But we love it.