It was when little miss 2.5 was lining mummy pig, baby pig, monkey and baby teddy at the doorway of the bathroom before we brushed her teeth tonight that I finally got, that she got, how the whole thing works. And, as I reminded her to keep her mouth open for the 23rd time, the next thought dawned on me… not only does she know how the whole thing works, the cheeky %&#! is winning.
As a family the three of us have grown up a lot, made some cracking mistakes and learned from a few of them. One of the things we figured out was that, for us, routine works. Getting miss 2.5 to sleep, eat, bath or any other activity in her first months was nearly impossible. We did the sleep clinic thing that turned into the Tresillian thing, threw in the sleep coach thing and tried a bit of super-nursing to finally understand that for our little girl, routine was everything. Our pre-child ideas of strapping the infant into the Baby Bjorn whilst we attended parties, BBQ’s and trips to pubs flew out of the window as we realised that meals needed to be by the clock, sleeping needed to be part of a minute-by-minute build up and we needed to change our lives completely to minimise the change in hers.
For some parents this would seem over the top but for us, at the time, with the little person we were getting know and the experience we had this worked. And so it began, our period of OCD when we would ensure that everything was as little miss 2.5 expected, only daring to change things if absolutely necessary, under strictly controlled circumstances. It was tough in our first 18 months. We missed out on a lot, drifted from friends and family as we spent time at home avoiding changes to routine but after the first 6 months of our time as parents, it seemed like a fair price to pay.
As is the way with children however, our little girl was growing and maturing all the time. Things that used to a big deal stopped being so and their were little hints that she was far more chilled out than her OCD parents. Take toilet training – 3 days with a few accidents and then easy. Spending the day with Nan and Pop – paaaaarty, dropping sleeps, out to dinner, occasionally going to bed after 8:30 – all her in stride.
But the with the maturity comes the “smarts”. The teddy’s that we put in her cot as part of her sleeping routine are now cleverly placed at either end of the house so come bed time, we have to go “searching” for them. The songs that we used to sing in a specific order need to still be sung but now, little miss 2.5 starts different songs with us, however if we try and put her to bed without baa baa black sheep she reminds us all too quickly. In short, she has figured out how to use our insecurities and hang ups against us. The dread of having tears before bed (traditionally brought on by teeth brushing) is now being expertly exploited to stretch the bedtime routine longer and longer.
So the good news is she’s pretty much normal. The challenge is that her parents, who have spent the last 2.5 years trying to control everything need to start turning off that instinct a bit (or at least keep it to themselves) and assume, rather than the worst case scenario, that change will be met elegantly. So how about you and yours? Have your offspring figured out how to deploy their own kiddy bureaucracy for their own gain? What crazy steps did you have in your routines (that you now laugh at) and what would you do differently now?
As always, sharing my blogging Tuesday with Jess over at essentiallyjess for #IBOT