Little boy, don’t you think it’s time you were in bed

Here’s the song reference.

The saga of getting Mr. Man to stay in his bed at night continues.  Wednesday night, Manie and I resorted to putting a baby gate across the door to the boys’ room, which worked well.  It probably helped that he hadn’t taken a nap and was completely exhausted when Manie tucked him in an hour past his usual bedtime.

Yesterday, a beautiful friend, B, gave me the gift of her day, bringing her daughter over to spend time with the tribe so I could give Deedaw unlimited time to run errands.  She remains determined to spoil her grandchildren this Christmas; it’s the little piece of normal life that is her best distraction right now.  B did such a stellar job that Mr. Man actually took a nap for the first time in several days, although he did give her a moment of heart failure when she went to check on him and Baby Guy and did not see him in his bed.  He had curled up behind the rocking chair, on the bottom shelf of the bookcase, and fallen asleep clutching his blankies.

At bedtime last night, three out of four tiny people fell asleep as soon as their heads hit their pillows (or, in Baby Guy’s case, his bear).  It may have helped that I told the girls that Frisbee (our elf on the shelf, so named because he flies back and forth between our house and Santa’s) and I had some urgent matters to discuss, and any delay in their going to sleep would delay our conversation — which would probably displease us both.  That roughly translates to me having an urgent need to get their Christmas presents wrapped before they figure out where the loot is stashed, but telling them THAT would have guaranteed me a steady stream of little taps on our bedroom door.  Sometimes, metaphor and euphemism are potent tools.

Mr. Man was completely unimpressed by my need to have a private conversation with Frisbee.  I had no sooner turned off Bugaboo and Beanie’s light and closed their door, with a last blown kiss and “Love you, beautiful girls,” than I heard the door to the boys’ room snick open.  The gate was up, and I could hear Mr. Man experimentally tapping against the gate with different toys to see if any of them would result in the gate falling.  Since I had to go retrieve the box of presents from downstairs anyway, I stopped by to kiss him on the head and gently remind him that once the lights go out, it’s time to be in bed, and stay in bed until he can see daylight.  With a somber, “Okay, Mommy,” he trudged back to his bed.  I whispered, “I love you,” and quietly closed his door.

I think I had started taking the second footstep towards the utility room before I heard the door open again.

Sighing, I turned around and said, “Okay, big guy.  I love you too, but it’s bedtime.  Night-night, Mr. Man.  You need to sleep now.”

The door closed.

I fished out the box of toys.

The door opened.

“Close the door, Mr. Man.”

The door closed.

I started up the stairs and made it about halfway before I heard the door open again.

“Good NIGHT, Mr. Man.”

The door closed.

I made a quick round of phone calls to update Grandma, Grandpa, and a couple other family members on Nonno, and to kibitz with Manie, who stayed the night with Nonno and Deedaw last night, before starting in on the wrapping.  Throughout the hour or so I spent on the phone, Mr. Man kept opening and closing his door, playing with his toys (he and Alphie had a lovely long conversation about letters and numbers), and trying unsuccessfully to get Baby Guy to awaken and join in the fun.  Thinking that, perhaps, this might be one of those times where if I kept going down and giving him more attention for doing something he shouldn’t, I decided to let him wear himself out for a bit while I talked to everyone.

That tactic seemed to be working; the noise level decreased, and while I was talking with Grandma, I thought he had actually gone to sleep, perhaps just leaving his door open so the ambient noise of the house would soothe him.  When I heard the thud and the wail, I realized my theory was incorrect, so I bid a quick farewell to Grandma and hurried down the stairs.

Mr. Man had, apparently, been pushing different toys and objects over to the gate to see if he could find something he could climb that would get him high enough to scramble over the gate.  His final attempt involved pushing Baby Guy’s music table against the gate and attempting to scale it.  However, he has the balance one might expect of a sleepy two-year-old, and the table tipped over when he tried to stand on it, spilling him onto the floor.

After ascertaining that he had done himself no injury that would require immediate medical attention, I removed the guilty table from the boys’ room and stowed it safely in a bathroom for the night, then sternly explained to a throughly unrepentant Mr. Man that once the lights are turned out, he is to remain in his bed, with his blankies and all his stuffed friends, close his eyes, and remain quiet.  Should he do those things, I clarified, sleep would find him and he would be a happy and well-rested little dude the following morning, with a happy and well-rested mommy.

He didn’t seem terribly impressed by my logic, but he did stay in his bed after that.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the many ways in which You protect Your little blessings, from the kindhearted friends You send to help care for them to the soft landings on well-padded body parts our less graceful blessings always seem to have.  Please help us teach them that what they are seeing from their friends and family this Christmas is love at its brightest and truest, the sacrificial gift of self that all six of us have given to bring Nonno and Deedaw what comfort and joy we have to offer, and the sacrificial gifts of time and talent offered to us by more friends and relatives than we realized we have.  Thank You for each of them, and for each moment they have been Your loving and compassionate face to us and to Your little blessings.  Please also grant me the grace and wisdom to keep returning Mr. Man to his bed gently, and remind me that while “I love you” sometimes sounds an awful lot like “no,” little boys whose worlds are being upended sometimes need some extra hugs and kisses.

Lord, Deedaw and Bugaboo are praying for one more Christmas with Nonno.  Thy will be done, Lord.  Please give us the meekness of heart to rejoice in whatever Your will may be.  Thank you for the nurses who have taken such good care of Nonno and comforted Deedaw, and for the medications that ease Nonno’s suffering. Please let these days be a reminder to us that suffering is sometimes the best lesson in how we are called to love, and teach us to show mercy to each other.


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