Zuzuday: early morning confessions…

 

I thought maybe I had dreamt it. At 4am, I heard the door creak. Just one creak though, before the pitter pat down the moonlit path started. She came in quietly and asked if anyone was awake. I waited silently since she did not seem upset. “I forgot to tell Smart Cat good-night.” She whispered into the darkness.

“It’s ok. He’s ok. Now go back to bed sweetie.” I mumbled back and held my breath. And then, she did.

At 6am on the nose I heard the creak again and a tap-tap on the office door where I sat typing. “Momma, do you remember when I came to tell you about Smart Cat?”

“I do Zuzu. And then you went back to your big-girl bed and stayed in it all night. That’s one more sticker on your chart!”

“Well, actually, I got up at 5 to go potty too, but then I went back to bed and stayed until 6…”

“That’s good- you made a good choice. I’m proud of you little bug!”

It’s hard to stand tough. I almost caved last night. When Lovey was helping the Quail on the potty. A very tired Zuzu started to cry just a little bit about her having to sleep in her own bed. Then something miraculous occurred to her.

“Momma, will Daddy have to sleep somewhere else when your belly is so big it takes up the whole bed?”

“Um, I guess we’ll see if it gets that big.”

More snuffling tears. (From her, not me over my gi-normous belly. At least not yet.)

“How about you take your pillow from our bed and sleep with it tonight. It smells like Momma and Sugarplum. Maybe one of the blankets I’ve been cuddling…” (can you hear the avalanche starting?)

“Ok,,,maybe so.”

“And how about Lambie?”

“No, Sugarplum needs something to cuddle.”

“Ok, night-night baby.”

Fortunately, it was Lovey’s night for all things bedtime. He told me when he finished that she looked at her chart after they went in her room and smiled a little at the thought of her new sticker. That was some comfort after seeing her tears. Once again, we all slept until her entrance at 4am. That seemed to rouse the cat though who then remembered she needed to barf and play with the crinkly things under my side of the bed.

Guess I need to make that cat a chart now…

That was written 2 weeks ago. It’s officially been 2 weeks since we have asked her to sleep in her own bed for the whole night. And for the most part she has done it. There was one more middle of the night entrance into our room and she has consistently gotten up to go potty sometime between 5 and 6 am. And her sister has now started waking at 5:30 am hollering to be taken to the potty as well. And on the weekends the impossible length of time between 6 am and 7 am sends her into tears. Other than that, that, that and that. I’d call it a success.

Of course her first “super prize” she decided on was a Valentine item. I worried on that. I wanted to not let her have it before the full two weeks were up, knowing her penchant for future negotiations. But judging by the heart-ie cuteness of this pink bear I worried equally hard that it might be gone and create a very defeated feeling 5-year-old at the end of two weeks. So we compromised again. We bought the bear during our next market run with the understanding it was to live in Momma’s car until she hit that 14th sticker. She did it! And we are mighty proud.

It isn’t without tears, on any of our parts, or seamless; like just this morning, the Quail hollered her “ooo-ooo” warning of impending poos at 5:30 on the nose. And since the last few poos have left me wondering what crawled up there and died, I felt the need to respond quickly rather than risk the need for a full crib cleaning later today. My entrance into their room before 6 am though, of course resulted in a time report from a wide-awake Zuzu. Which was quickly followed by a speech about the need for her to go potty as well along with a lengthy dissertation on all the reasons she likes Momma & Daddy’s potty since the room smells like Momma, Daddy and Sugarplum, which was then followed by an inquisition as to whether the Quail would be returning to her nest for the next 15 minutes. At which point I felt the odds of anyone actually resting were long gone and made the ill-fated choice to allow everyone full-house access prior to 6am. Ill-fated indeed. And a bit reminiscent of the birthday whining from a couple of weeks ago.  There was an argument over who cleans up the legos, the dropping of a very heavy book about cats on an unsocked toe. A much-too-lengthy discussion over who should get the ice-pack and who needs to go to time-out for hollering “NO” so vehemently at Momma’s requests for help before 6am. And a final decision to not award the sticker for today’s rising.

In the end Momma needed a time-out and two Tylenol herself in order to regain her morning composure before the day had even really started. As soon as I get a minute to myself I think I’m going to back and reread my oh-so-wise warning about not ruminating on the cranks.

In the meantime, let me just suggest for your own self-preservation that you think long and hard about your status as a morning person before accepting any well-intended invitations to stay in our nest. We’re an early flock here.

Zuzuday: Morning has broken….

Had I finished this post when it first crafted its way into my noggin it would have had a VERY different tone. Momma hit a wall this weekend. A wall of down feathers, flannel and fleece, but a wall nonetheless. We are co-sleepers. Not by choice. When Zuzu’s egg was making its way in my belly we prepared a nursery. We had it set up and ready to go weeks before she arrived. The colors and soft fuzzies all lovingly coordinated and cooed over. Then, she came. She cried. She was held and she stopped. She sleep-trained us in a matter of half-crazed weeks and the birth of The Napping House merged with our family rhythms. Frankly, it felt right. It really didn’t make sense to me why two full grown   adults shared one room and a two foot person had her own. It didn’t help that within the first three weeks of her life we had an unfortunate event of a drunken college student pounding his way down the side of our house scaring the dickens out of me, and then a repeat event around a year later. We all slept better when we were together. And I was a nursing, working mother. So- so be it.

Then around 18 months I hit a nursing wall. Zuzu seemed to have decided it was her job to wake every two hours and nurse Momma because Momma loves nursing so much. That had to stop. Momma was getting cranky with the regular wakings. It only took a week. She’s a bright little lark, that Zuzu of ours. She woke. She asked to nurse. I told her the neh-neh’s were still asleep. She nodded and asked for TV. I explained that the TV was asleep. She went to sleep. We had this pattern for only a week and then she slept. At 20 months we were all better rested, but then my burgeoning belly began to take over our queen size bed. Well, the belly and the half-dozen pillows I required to keep the aches at bay. So we started putting Zuzu down in her own big-girl bed. (Notice that her sweet head never touched that crib mattress?). We explained that Momma & Daddy were right next door, and when she woke, she was welcome to crawl in between us if she could do it quietly and without pomp & circumstance. She agreed and most nights she didn’t actually wake until early morning.

Then, along came the Quail. We had purchased an Arm’s Reach co-sleeper to hook to my side of the bed. We had two goals for it. To not displace Zuzu too traumatically as she still wandered into our room early mornings from time to time and to try to prevent our bed from becoming a slumber party for four. That first night home from the hospital I sat down for an evening nurse with our new bird and Zuzu crawled up on the foot of the bed. It was long past her bedtime and our schedule was in disarray already. She sat quietly watching us with doe-eyes and then said in her tiny toddler voice, “Momma & the Quail’s room.” In my hormonally charged state I replied with a teary voice, “No, come here baby, it’s for all of us.” And there went the months of preparation and sleep training. We slept for months like that, the Quail on my right and Zuzu tucked in between her father and I. And it worked. Then when the Quail graduated from the co-sleeping need to nurse all night we tried plucking her down in her crib. And by George, she loved it. It was fascinating, this concept of a child being put to down in a crib, in her own room and, get this- sleeping. Zuzu was still put down to sleep at bedtime in her own bed, in the room she now shared with her tiny sister. But, she consistently ended up in ours. Even at the point in which I was no longer nursing anyone.

I’ve talked about it before, this tired old subject. Of who sleeps where and what’s best for everyone. I’ve had mirages of everyone tucked in their own beds and actually sleeping. For a while we had a compromise where if Zuzu woke during the night. She was to wind a path through the moonlit house and the less creaky of the already open doors to a crevice at the foot of our bed and place her silent-self between us. Really, if no one woke in the process, what was the harm?

The harm became the creaks, the conversation and the nightly wrestling match. The reality is all the doors in our house creak, along with the floorboards. Zuzu had a clear mission each night that she seemed to deem it as her job to come snuggle Momma and Sugarplum. Moreover, if Momma happened to be facing away from a full-on cuddle she felt the need to right the situation. To tug at my neck, and later my shoulder so that I could roll over and cuddle her.  I explained how unearthly cranky it made me to be woken by a four year old hand pressing on my carotid artery. The conversation was generally more pleasant the next day than when we had to have it at 3am.

As my belly once again burgeoned, and the stack of pillows bloomed in light of Sugarplum’s impending arrival, the room for this nightly encounter lessoned and has taken a decidedly unpleasant tone in the last few months. It also has created a rhythm that wakes Lovey and sends him to another room to escape his child-induced insomnia. Sure, he was getting a couple of hours of work done a night. And yes it is extremely helpful to a new Momma to have a husband who is wide awake from 3am to 5am when she wouldn’t mind handing over the newborn feeding reigns. Moreover, it’s become not uncommon for the initial door creak of the girl’s room to also wake the Quail from her slumber.

So, that’s a long winded way of saying, no one is sleeping in our house.

That crystal ball of a brain of mine also tells me that in the next couple of months as we contemplate transitioning the Quail out of her crib and into her own big-girl bed we are soon to gain another night visitor. One who is already keenly aware of her roommate’s nightly disappearance. And, really, there ain’t no more room in this bed of ours. Period. Sure, we could buy a bigger bed. But fact of the matter is the parents in this house need to start sleeping just a wee bit more, before this newest wee one comes to wake us every couple of hours. I can imagine once this wee plum roars her mighty roar in the ears of the Sistred, we’re going to have an all-night dance party in this house of ours. And that, my friends, is good for no one.

At the point in which a routine behavior is making me routinely crazy, it’s time to break the routine. So Sunday morning I came upon the aforementioned wall. After two hours of Zuzu, asking inches from my head, “Is it 7 Momma? Remember we get up at 7 on home days and 6 on school days! I think it’s 7 Momma! Look, Mr. Sun is peeking out behind the shade!” And the Quail roaring her mighty “Oooo-oooo” which means she may be about to poop her crib. I decided 5 years and 4 months was a swell time to institute the never before seen “ I slept in my big-girl bed for 14 days and earned a super-prize” chart. Zuzu surprisingly was tickled at the idea. She got out her doodle pad and markers and set to work drawing the 14 neat, green slots where her stickers would reside marking her way to the newly noted “super-prize”. We spent the day coming up with super-prizes. Our weekly market trip, was marked with notable potentials. Our afternoon, was narrated with trips that could be made for a family super-prize in “Old Gold Car” as she lovingly named our fifties Fairlane.

The chart was hung on her bedroom door, and then moved to the inside for her middle-of-the-night viewing pleasure. The instructions were rehearsed for a wake time of 6am on school days and 7am on homedays. Possibilities reviewed for quiet entertainment, when the middle of the night waking inevitably came. Then as it was my night for bedtime duty. I hugged her, high-fived her, whispered my cheering ons and tuck, tuck, tucked her into her bed for what we hoped would be an all-night slumber party of one. Then I closed the door and held my breath. I recounted to the sheep I had to count to get my own-self to sleep how this was really for the best. That the girl is dying to have a sleepover yet is incapable of sleeping.  That I need to relieve her of her self-imposed job of cuddling Sugarplum and Momma in the middle of the night and reroute it for the daytime.

That the interests in sleep coveted by the 5 other brains in our house (not to leave out Sugarplum and Chula the Cat) was not to be outweighed by this tiny soldier’s diligence to cuddle-duty.

So, we went to bed. And I still woke every couple of hours. Have I mentioned I haven’t slept through the night since sometime in early 2006? My ears prickled as I woke, peed, and listened for the pitter-pat of not-so-little-anymore feet. But there was none. Not a peep. Not a peep from Chula the Cat. Not a kick-kick from Sugarplum. Not a type-type-type from Lovey. Not an oo-ooo from the Quail. Not a single tug on my carotid artery in the wee hours of the mourn.

When I woke, I feared what was to come. The few times in the last year that Zuzu has managed to stay in her bed till morning I’ve been greeted by a weepy mess of a child who is woefully saddened by her lapse in duty. “But I didn’t get to cuddle you Momma!!!!” she wails to me over her Crispy Rice. Then I heard the bathroom doorknob turn (Have I also mentioned that I haven’t had “time” in the bathroom by myself since sometime late in 2006?). I turned with my most stoic of Momma faces in place, and, surprisingly was greeted by the great beam of a proud five year old! “Momma, I did it, I slept all night in my big girl bed! I didn’t even wake up! I just told Daddy! Momma, what were the super-prizes again? Where is my sticker?”

As Lovey helped her apply the sticker firmly to day one of the blessed chart, I breathed a sigh of relief that maybe this actually was for the best. And then I heard the not-so-quiet Ooo-ooooings of a birdly stister who was anxious to join her family in the bathroom.

…like the first morning….

 

Zuzuday: hair today, gone tomorrow

I have a real love/hate relationship with haircuts and the girls. I find myself eyeing their sweet heads for weeks on end before finally asking if anyone is interested in a haircut. I need to be sure I can commit to it before I make the offer. It shouldn’t be this difficult, but emotionally it is. Probably because I only do it once or twice a year and at this age, even without my help they grow so quickly.

When both of the girls were born, their hair came out mirroring mine. Lots of chocolate brown hair wisps covered their tender heads. In the first few months as it came off and new hair grew in, with both of them it changed over to Lovey’s strawberry blonde locks. Everyone thinks they look like him- I’m the odd man out in family pictures. Truth be told, when Lovey was their age he was a towhead. White, white, white. Shortly before Zuzu was born, I was gifted a number of boxes of my childhood things from my mom and in the depths of those I found a little envelope that carried the locks from my first haircut. My hair- was strawberry blonde! I have absolutely no memory of this and was so surprised to see the different color. It made me realize that the days of having these sweet little strawberry heads is most likely numbered.

Thus begins the love/hate relationship with haircuts as I age them with every snip. About a year ago I took the girls in to a joint doctor appointment a few weeks after their fall haircut and the doctor looked at them and asked if Zuzu’s hair used to be the same color as the Quail. I was shocked- I hadn’t noticed how much darker it had already turned.  That time I had given the Quail bangs and I think the heartshock of seeing my baby vanish into a toddler had caused me to stop eyeing them so closely. Sure enough though, I can see it, it’s just a shade darker. Everytime we cut it, I feel like I’m cutting off part of their babyhood.

Yet, I can’t quite help myself, as I eye it for weeks preceding the haircut I notice how straggly or thin it has become and feel the need to thicken and even it up. I always love the final result after I cry about it few a few days though. This fall Zuzu had been the one asking for a cut after I came home from work with one.  It’s not a quick process for us. I do cut the hair myself, but I usually have to trail after them over the course of the weekend making little amends. Since Zuzu had asked, I started with her this time and noticed that her bangs were almost at the length I had hoped so that we could even it all out to one length. In reality, that was shorter than I pictured the cut as a whole. She was tickled.  I was uncertain and Lovey asked why I took his little girl away. It’s a spritely little cut on her, but the bittersweetness of it going one more shade darker as I cut the summer sun out of it was enough to put me in my hair-cutting place before I got to the Quail. Needless to say, I only took a couple of inches off of her in order to keep the rest of my heart intact.

sunday still life

 

Sunday Still Life is an evolving photo project started by Erin. It’s an invitation to explore the beauty and depth of life through traditional still life composition and / or photos and words to evoke inner stillness and reflection. If you feel so inspired, join in!

This shot right here, well I’m mighty proud of this sprite! That lolly she is holding is her first. She got it as a prize for her first week of potty training at school! Lil bit is holding her own in the 2 year old classroom at school. One of the many reasons we love the school our girls go to is they do potty training in the 2 year old classroom. Ms. Chrystal is the best!  When Zuzu wen through this class I remember after the first few weeks she showed me a potty chart covered in pink star stickers and proclaimed it as hers. I pointed out it belonged to another little girl and which one was actually hers- the one with only 3 stickers. She was upset. But then the next week went to town and rarely looked back.

About a year ago Lovey wanted to get out the little potty so that the Quail could start getting used to the idea. I balked. I reasoned that she wouldn’t be in Ms. Chrystal’s until next fall. But we went ahead and got it out anyway. And I’m so glad we did. Going into the class and her official training she was able to let others know she had to go, to pee and poop in the potty, flush her potty and throw her old diaper away. She’s got a ways to go, she still struggles with not falling over when she tries to undress or redress for it. But I know she’ll get there- and in a fairly compatible timetable as her classmates.

After the first week of “official” training she left friday afternoon with a good dozen stars on her chart and her first “prize”. Way to fly little bird!

Quailday: another kind of happily ever after…

Do you know Dave Hingsberger?

He’s a strong advocate and friend to a lot of us that find our lives touched by the world of disability. He’s compassionate, thoughtful and quickly analytical. He gets the struggles that sometimes seem inherent in the lives of those that are marginalized by their communities. I had the good fortune of hearing him speak many moons ago as a young social work intern learning my way in the field of disability advocacy. His words touched my heart and stayed with me even though I only saw him a few times and so very long ago.

Shortly after the Quail was born and I found myself repeatedly googling disability issues and reacquainting myself with our modern-day heroes and advocates. I found out that Dave makes himself a willing and daily member and advocate of our community via his blog. What good fortune! What wisdom. I feel so blessed to live in a world where technology has enabled me to have access to wisdom and support at all hours of the day.  Particularly on sleepless nights when my mind is in a race with my heart to beat out worry.

A couple of months ago Dave took fingers to the keyboard to convey the unconventional wisdom found in an ordinary everyday situation- a mom and her teenage son dickering about his right to be independent on a daily basis. His right to the dignity of risk. Years ago, as a young whippersnapper of a social worker living in a liberal community,  I would have read this story, and been rallying around that young teenager. Of course he should get to go get his food in the mall without an escort. It’s the mall, he’s a teenager, teenagers hang at the mall all of the time without befalling dire consequences. Right? Having a disability shouldn’t mean you have to be escorted everywhere.

But sadly, in our world, in this day, those everyday situations can befall horrible outcomes. Not everyone respects people’s dignity of risk or frankly- human life. Some people spend their time making others who have worked so hard to be a part of the community, to be accepted, to at least be allowed to live in peace, live a nightmare- at best. As a mother I hear about these stories and I want to take both of my children in my arms and never let anyone talk to them without first going through a battery of testing of my own. The fear eats at me. The worry of what I can do to prevent any harm befalling anyone tugs at my soul. Why anyone would insist that their right to call someone a ret@rd is more of a priority than the person on the receiving end’s dignity is beyond me. Just because we have the right to say what we want doesn’t mean we have to. I will never understand people defending their right to be mean. It’s one thing for someone to make a mistake, realize it, apologize and learn from it. We’re all human. It’s a diagnosable personality disorder to defend the right to hurt others.

The critics and trolls insist that as parents and advocates asking you to please remove this slang from your vocabulary is petty, politically correct and  an overstatement of the issue at hand. I would say the extinction of Ernie Hernandez Jr’s life is a sad statement to the seriousness of the issue.

Our world is changing though. It’s this fact that restores my faith. The world understands now that people who clinically have the diagnosis of mental retardation can learn. They may learn differently, but they do learn. The term retardation when used appropriately isn’t the issue. The issue is that a wide sect of people use it to degrade others and then defend their right to be ignorant about it. The issue is so significant that even the medical community has decided to step in and revise their language. The correct term in the DSM-V will be intellectual disability.

We can all learn, if we are willing. As a friend, a community member, as a co-worker, as a family member, as a fellow human being I am telling you it gives me pause when you say ret@rd in reference to something you did that you think was stupid. I know you may not have thought about it before. I know you may not have had any reason to question it. Everyone says it right?

Well give me a few minutes of your time and open your hearts and mind and take the opportunity to learn about the history of people diagnosed with mental retardation. Read this. Know the struggles that have been faced and won, and those that still exist. If you still disagree about the significance of the R word, that’s fine. Just as a friend- please don’t use it around me or my family. That’s at least a start.

And as to that teenager and his mother; well, let me commend her and her brave heart. She listened to her son. As a social worker and disability advocate I had no doubts about his rights. As a momma to a sweet Quail making her world in her community, I stand guard to the harm that may befall her one day. And hopefully, one day, I’ll be as brave as that Momma to know when it’s time to let her fly. With the wisdom of folks like Dave, I’m sure I’ll stay the course.

Our language frames how we think about others. Help eliminate the R-word from everyday speech. Won’t you please join me in taking the pledge to end the R word?

The Stisters Autumn Adventures begin…

The Stisters (Zuzu’s pronunciation) are on the go! It’s the beginning of the school year and both girls are in the middle of transition woes. About a week into the new school  year it dawned on us that maybe Zuzu doesn’t remember any of her other dear teachers other than the one she had for the last 2 years. Poor thing is having a bit of a difficult adjustment. She seems to be doing ok in the classroom, but she has started bemoaning having to go in the morning, sulks into her spot at group time when dropped off and is a bundle of frayed nerves most of the rest of the evening when we pick her up. The tiniest thing- say, a chip falling on the floor, my stupidly bending to pick it up, my not anticipating her exact reaction to the announcement of bedtime sets her off into a flurry of tears. We’re trying to be patient and kind and lowering our expectations for going out and about in the evening for a while until she settles in.

And she will- settle in that is. She’s excited to have a handful of girls in her class and talks about them endlessly. She’s spent most of her first 3 years in classes primarily comprised of little boys and seems excited to have little counterparts that are equally excited to go to dance class with her. When we went to get fitted for this years outfit the girl flitted and twirled her way through the studio. Both her teachers stared open-mouthed at her energy and eagerness. Both indicated that she was quiet as a mouse the year before. It will be interesting to see if once Momma is not there if she’ll continue her enthusiasm or go back to mousehood.

The 3 year old class is a HUGE change in structure from what she is used to though. The kiddo’s have assigned duties each week and by tuesday Zuzu can list off who is line leader, door holder, spoon hander-outer and table wiper. She’s clear on what gets her daily smiley face taken away and quick to point out to her teacher when she’s earned it back. She happily shows me the footprints around the room that demonstrate where the line-up starts for different activities and shows me where her spot is at the table. She’s a good kid and likes it to be known when she does something right so I think in time it will feel less like too much pressure and more like the comfort of orderly routine.

The Quail’s transition into the Toddler Room is going along pretty well too. Lovey and I have both spent some time in the class with her and each of her therapists have taken turns bringing her in and helping her to get to know the structure and routine. She’s definitely looking forward to getting to spend lunchtime with the big kids. This week while she was finishing up her visit the lunches were brought to the room and as they were being handed out she decided to stand herself up at the table to emphasize that it was her turn! Our girl loves food! And on that happy note I’m also thrilled to report that her thyroid tests came back in the normal range. We’ve had a few reports of how tired she seems a couple of times a week and rather spaced out. I was a little worried that it might be thyroid related but that appears to not be the case.

In speech this week she also started saying “pider” for a tune to be played in addition to holding up her spiders. She also pushes her little foot at you if you ask to see her piggies. We’re working on body parts and belly and head and foot are pretty consistent.

Here’s a picture from the first day of school- gosh they look so big!

Zuzuday- apron strings

Our big girl has made one more BIG step towards independence. It started after our trip back to see the Grandparents. Born out of fatigue as all good things are.

I’ll just say it- we’re co-sleepers at heart. In our house someone always lays down with Zuzu. For a while it was timed to music, or a set number of stories. The coyote chew was put in play to retrieve your arm from under her. There’s a been a variety of versions. In our bed, in her bed, but always with a grown-up laying down with her. It didn’t start out this way- or I should say the intentions didn’t. We made a nursery. We hauled our butts to Ikea and got a shiny new crib with a matching bumper/quilt/mobile and soft art-work collection. We filled the room with soft colors, music, animals and blankies. We made it a fun place to be, and then night-night would come and we would head back to Momma-Daddy’s room. Around 18 months I had set last call for nursing. Then at 20 months we moved her going to bed routine to be one that alternated Momma and Daddy and took place on her bed. For the first few weeks she would wake up and cry and one of us would go in for the quiet rescue. Eventually she figured out life was much simpler if she would just get up and come back to her rightful spot- between Momma & Daddy- and cut out all the middle-of-the-night negotiations. I remember so clearly the first morning Lovey and I both woke to find her between us and neither of us had been the one to bring her in. Well the time came for the Quail to burst forth and I couldn’t quite bring myself to “lay down the law” so to speak. The first night home from the hospital Zuzu sad with puppy-dog eyes watching me with her sister and when I laid TQ down in the co-sleeper she dubbed the room Momma-Quail’s room. Well it broke my heart- mostly because she was being so sweet and understanding about it. So- I did what all tired mothers do (if they’re honest) I said- “Oh-no honey- come lay down with us!” And she was back.

I think because she always had slept with us she was a fairly reasonable bed-sharer. She laid fairly still and didn’t frequently move us out of the way. Well- no- she didn’t move me out of the way. It wasn’t uncommon to find Lovey huddled down about 2 feet below his pillow by morning and her having taken over his side of the bed. The Quail on the other hand- in her co-sleeper, in a swaddle, in all her hypotonic glory could wriggle herself down to the bottom and turn sideways. Middle of the bed was just never a safe option for her. When we would try weekend naps altogether it turned into a giggle fest and no one slept.

So we returned from Grandma & Grandpas this summer and I was finally just too tired to do the routine. So I explained to the girls that we would read books in the living room- 3 to be exact, of their choosing and then they would get to go lay down in their beds with a kiss and a tuck-tuck-tuck! I managed to say it with enough animation and excitement that no one was the wiser throughout the stories and the first tuck and tuck. By the third tuck Zuzu gathered what was up and was a little less than pleased. I explained that she was welcome to come snuggle like she used to if she “happened” to wake up during the night. I’m fairly certain she used my turned back as the cover to set her alarm for 12:30am because for the next few weeks she has come to us like clockwork. I also used the fact that she had been dry all night for the last month as incentive that it was a privilage to get to sleep in her own bed with big-girl underpants instead of a night-night pull-up. She had been asking for weeks if she could wear underwear to bed like Momma and Daddy do- so this  lucked us into a perfect compromise- you sleep in your own bed (or at least start out there) and you get to wear the big-girl underpants! Big girl things and the priviliage of getting them is often the distinction she questions before doing something. “Is this for big girls or for babies  Momma?”

There are still a few tears- hers and mine. I know it’s good for her to have some independence and to be able to go to bed without coddling. I know she can- she does it at school everyday. But I appreciate the sentiment. I was never one to sleep with my bedroom door closed. Growing up it was comforting to hear my family moving around inside the house. We’ve had a handful of nights that she has slept all the way through without us. Those make me the saddest- it’s a sign she’s growing up. But with that comes wisdom and mini-me plotting. Each night as Lovey and I do our own family rustling and readying for the next day Zuzu comes in turn to each of us with a question, “I thought you went to bed! You need to turn off the computer and go to bed! When are you going to go lay down?”

 I smile, tell her I love her with a little chuckle and that it will be soon. Some nights this suffices, others it is the beginning of the “If you give a child a drink of water at bedtime” routine. I’ll enjoy the last days of The Cuddlers while I can.

*And on a side note- along those lines of her road to independence- she can open and close her own car door now and she can work the buckle on her car seat- scary roads ahead as we are now faced with the need for a clear understanding of the law and safety rather than simple child-like compliance with her seatcart (as she calls it!), but oh such a big girl!