We stayed too late at a friend’s house this evening. It happens every time we visit with her.
All three of us are having such a great time eating and drinking and visiting and laughing that it’s suddenly way past Grace’s bedtime. A prominent rub of the eyes or a whine or a tantrum brings all of us back to reality, and we realize that we must be heading home.
Grace falls asleep in the car.
Grace wakes up as Joe unbuckles her and brings her in the house, and she is not happy.
It happens the same every single time.
Normally, we go through our normal bedtime routine, allowing Grace to watch a few minutes of tv, say her good nights, and then go to bed.
Tonight, however, it was nearly 9pm til we got home. That’s well over an hour past her normal bedtime, and she was exhausted. Joe carried her from the car straight up to her bedroom.
We left the lights off, turning on only a nightlight in the hallway. We worked together to change her clothes and diaper quickly and get her tucked into her bed before she really woke up.
And she realized that she’d been tricked out of her nightly tv allowance.
And she was mad.
She yelled, kicked her feet, flailed her arms, and cried big tears down red cheeks. Go downstairs! My want to go downstairs!
Joe shushed her and tried to coax her to lie down, and that made the screaming intensify.
Really, she was so tired that I don’t think she knew what she wanted.
I asked Joe to move over a little, and I sat with him down beside Grace’s bed.
“You’re mad, aren’t you? You are really mad!”
The screaming turned into whining.
Downstairs. My want to go downstairs.
“Oh, honey. I know. You are mad because you want to go downstairs.”
Yeah. She sighed a long sigh. Downstairs.
“You can go downstairs tomorrow, Grace. I promise. Can I hold your hand while you go to sleep?”
Yeah. And that was that. She slipped her hand into mine, sighed again, and shut her eyes.
She just needed to be heard.
She was getting louder and more frantic because she thought we didn’t understand.
In the heat of the moment, it’s so easy to forget that kids are people, too. They need to be acknowledged before they can follow our instructions.
Grace needed to go to sleep, but she couldn’t until she believed that we understood her request. She needed to be heard.
Photo by Robb North
© 2010, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.