This morning I had a wee bit of a parenting fail. I went to bed last night with a head cold, sleeping with a big box of Kleenex and dirty tissues hidden under the covers so Phoebe wouldn’t eat them. At some point, I heard Molly yelling, and I stumbled out of bed. I grabbed my glasses, feeling as if I were coming out of a deep slumber. It was really dark out and I was pretty annoyed. Why, oh why, was she up so early?! I went into her bedroom and asked her what was wrong. She told me that her nightlight wasn’t on. True, but her closet light was on, as was an owl light that glows over her bed. Still, I flicked on the nightlight for her. I tried to tuck her back under the covers. She told me she was hungry. I said, “Molly, it’s the middle of the night. You can have breakfast in the morning.” She begged me, “But, Mommy, I’m really, really hungry!” “Molly, I understand,” I said, “but no, it’s really dark out. It’s nighttime; time for sleep.”
Let me pause here. Sometimes we cave at these moments, which don’t come often, and bring her a snack. Sometimes she eats it and sometimes she doesn’t. It’s so hard to know if she’s really hungry. If she is, I don’t want her starving. But as she gets older, I think she’s saying it more to see what she can get from us, stall on things like bedtime or just use it as something to say. And just yesterday I was reading yet another article about how age-appropriate it is for three-year-olds to push like this and how it’s parents’ responsibility to say no so that kids learn limits and boundaries and how to ask for things. And a couple of days before, she’d woken up too early and asked AO to bring her scissors and he complied. And then she asked for some other art supply later, and again he complied. So this, too, was on my mind. I was trying to set boundaries! Like Olivia with her brother, Ian, I was going to be firm.
Back to the scene.
This push-pull went on for a bit. Not too long because, as I said, I was determined to be firm! “Molly, it’s the middle of the night. It’s not ok to get up yet. If you go back to bed right now, we can stop at the cookie store tonight.” [The cookie store is the co-op where she likes to get these delicious vegan lemon blueberry cookies. And yes, T, though they’re vegan, they’re quite tasty.] I know, shameless bribe. But it was the middle of the night! “Otay!” she said, and snuggled in. I said, “Ok, thank you, sweetie. I love you. Now, no more yelling or screaming. Get some more sleep.” And then I left and closed the door. As soon as I did, I heard, “Mommy!!” Ugh! I. Had. Had. It. I opened the door and said, “No!!!” And then I walked back to our bedroom.
For the first time, I saw the clock. 6:56 a.m.