As a parent, I made a grave tactical error the other night.
Eleanor has been sleeping in the big girl bed (crib converted to toddler bed) since Christmas time. In the past few months, she's also convinced us to leave the door open at night so she can get out of bed and go to the bathroom. To be fair, overall the ratio of bathroom trips to unnecessary, putting-off-bed trips has so far been in favor of actual bathroom usage.
However, lately the unnecessary trips have been increasing, and we've spent more times going upstairs and sternly sending her back to bed. I've spent a lot of time trying to convince her that we are really, really, really boring after she goes to bed. We don't talk about anything exciting, or watch Sesame Street, or eat ice cream and popsicles. (Those last two do happen, but don't tell her.) "Honestly," I say, "most of the time we just fall asleep on the couch. You're not missing out on anything!" Yet she remains a skeptic.
This Friday, we're leaving for a week-long beach vacation with Keith's extended family in the Outer Banks. The plan is to leave late on Friday and drive through the night. I'm confident that part 1 of the plan (leaving and driving) will happen. I'm not so confident that part 2—Eleanor sleeps most of the way—will. That's the hope, but of course we're preparing an entertainment extravaganza, should it be needed. Lots of books and toys, and particularly books with accompanying audio CDs. She's been big into those lately, which has been fantastic because I can't read in the car for more than 5 words before I get carsick. Eleanor thinks this is a lame excuse, and complains about my ineptitude quite often on any car trip longer than 15 minutes when I'm not driving. Because if I'm not driving, my job is to entertain her. And if I can't read in the car? FAIL.
So, I've also decided to take some of her favorite books and record myself reading the stories, and load the recordings onto the iPod. Brilliant! So I can "read" during the trip, while simultaneously sleeping and avoiding car sickness. A good idea, poorly executed. I decided to try this out the other night, mere minutes after I put her to bed. The inevitable result? She pitter patters to the top of the stairs, and hears me reading fairy tales out loud after she's already in bed. She always KNEW we did fun things after she was in bed, and now she had proof!
I heard Eleanor gasp from the top of the stairs, and could picture her flapping her hands (Eleanor's preferred body language for Excited!) and then she thundered down the stairs. I stopped recording long enough to get her settled on the couch next to me and tell her to be quiet and she was going right to bed after this story. To top it off, my computer froze in the middle of the recording so I lost everything I had done AND I still had to finish the story and send her back up to bed. I tried to explain that I don't really read her stories every night after she goes to bed, but there's no way that she believed me.
And then hours later, when I was absolutely certain she (and Keith) were asleep, I opened to the first page of The Cat in the Hat and whispered to myself,
"The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold wet day..."