I’ve been sitting here all night, trying to decide what I wanted to write about, but my brain has been complete mush since the incident that happened this afternoon.
Calling it an “incident” hardly does it justice. What happened this afternoon could easily be ranked as the single worst thing that has occurred in my 25 years on this planet.
The day began rather typically and uneventfully. I awoke around 8 am to the sound of what I initially thought, in my sleepy stupor, to be someone clubbing a seal in the adjacent bedroom. I rubbed my eyes and soon realized it was not a seal being beaten out of its misery but Gavin, who was anxious to be freed from his crib and begin an action-packed day of destroying my apartment.
“Hi Mommy,” he said cheerfully, seal-noises stopping as soon as I entered his room. “I all done sleeping. I come out.”
I nodded obligatorily and toted my 31-pound boy into the kitchen to brew up some strong java. He insists on being ceremoniously carried out of his crib each morning and, while my aching 5’2 frame wants to say no, I haven’t the capacity to hear whining before I’ve had my coffee.
The morning progressed like any other. I tried to clean the living room; Gavin dumped his toys everywhere. I lied down on the couch to rest; Gavin pulled me off the couch to play train tracks with him. I put a glass of water on the table; Gavin poured half of it on my computer.
He’s a few months past two now and I’ve started to notice a shift in his behavior patterns. His listening skills have worsened dramatically. It’s not that he doesn’t hear me or understand what I am saying – it’s that he has suddenly realized he is his own person and makes his own decisions. The popular decision of the moment? To do the opposite of what I tell him.
Not surprisingly, by 2 pm, I found myself putting Gavin in his crib for Time Out #48 of the day. I told him he was to be in there for three minutes, closed the door, and went back to the living room and sat on the couch. He wailed his displeasure, as he always does, and I waited patiently, knowing he would not let up before the three minutes were up. And that’s when It happened.
All of a sudden, the wailing stopped. In its place came a huff, and a puff, and then a loud thud. Finally, I heard a few tiny giggles. The door handle jiggled. ‘No,’ I thought. ‘This can’t be what I think it is.’ I pinched myself hard. ‘Wake up. Oh god, wake up.’
Gavin came bounding down the hallway, still quite a slobbery mess but beaming from ear to ear.
My jaw hung open and I’m sure my face was as white as a ghost. My life was unveiling before my eyes. Gavin had learned to climb out of his crib! No longer would I have the joy of naptime, the bliss of bedtime. I would lose those precious few hours each day where no one was whining at / pulling / drooling on me, the hours where I could be an adult, where I could be me instead of just Mommy. Gavin now controlled his own sleep schedule, and consequently, controlled me completely. The power dynamic – which admittedly, had not been in my favor to start – had definitively shifted.
“Hi, Gavin,” I gulped nervously. “Aren’t you supposed to be in a Time Out right now?”
“No, Mommy,” he said seriously. “I all done. I climb out.” He appeared very proud of himself and I think he expected me to congratulate him on his newest developmental achievement. My shock and horror had rendered me both immobile and mute, however, and after a few moments of silence, the only response I could muster was, “Mommy needs a drink.”
And that is how my life changed irreparably today.