Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Bedtime Battle

It's 10:15 p.m. and I need to blog. I need something to distract me from the fact that my two-year-old still isn't asleep, has come out of his room for the fourth time tonight and is currently driving monster trucks in the hallway, which he must think provides some sort of sound barrier from the living room and that I can't hear him. Nice try, buddy. I hear you. I'm trying to ignore you. There's only so many times you can say, "Jaxon, make a good choice. It's time for bed." Or, "Jaxon, do we need to put the gate up?" The gate, is one of those baby gates you use so your kids don't fall down stairs, yeah, we use ours to cage Jax up in his room like the little monkey he is. We only do it at bedtime when he's come out of his room several times. Like tonight. But after screaming at the gate for several minutes (Jax, not me) I went to his room, took it down, gently walked him back to his bed, kindly spoke to him about how sad it makes him and me to have to put the gate up, and got an affirmative from the little dude that he'd stay in his bed. That was 10 minutes ago. I wrongly assumed the gate would be an effective tactic. It was last night, but this kid is no fool, he's over it. He's moved on. Steel door? Bring it.

****Hold on, taking a blogging break to take the little monster back into his room.*****

I'm back. So far, so good. I swear, if he wasn't so cute I'd flush him. Not really. He's huge. But I think that's something my father-in-law used to say to his boys, so Andy says it and now I do. Kinda catchy.

I don't have many frustrations as a mother. I have really good kids. I mean, really. I'm not just saying that. I hear other moms talk about their kids, or I see the way some of these kids behave and I think, "I have it easy." Our kids are very thoughtful, very polite and usually very obedient. Of course, they have their moments. They're kids. But, for every naughty choice they make, there's 10 good ones. Maybe more. So, it's nights like tonight (or every night, as of late) that are so tough. Jax is a really good boy. Except at bedtime. And here's the thing, it's not like he comes out of his room and goes all Godzilla, terrorizing our house. No, usually he just brings a monster truck or two out and will set on the floor near wherever Andy and I are, and play. If we have the TV on he'll ask what we're watching. Most nights, he comes out of his room dragging his blanket, asking us to fix it. He doesn't quite grasp that if he'd stop getting out of bed, the blanket issue would be solved. Some nights he'll go into Ava's room and bother her, some nights she joins in the wild rumpus and I hear two little wild things giggling in her room. Most often though, she yells, "Moooooom, Jax is in my room. Please get him out!" (see what I mean, so polite).

So, what to do. We've started a reward system for when the kids make good choices (which I'll blog about later). Apparently, Jax does not care to earn a Kleinman Buck past 8 o'clock. We've bribed him with a monster truck, promising that if he stays in his bed five nights in a row he can earn a Taz monster truck. We made it two nights. But he still asks about Taz nightly and we still tell him he has to earn him. Some may say bribery isn't the best way to go about it. But here's the thing, it's not like our bribes are unrealistic. I'm not promising the kid a trip to Disneyworld if he stays in his bed. We're simply trying to teach him the positive behavior merits positive consequences. We don't yell at or spank our kids and timeouts are used only when violence is involved (Ava never gets timeouts, occasionally Jax does). I've always tried to use positive reinforcement to correct a naughty behavior or choice, rather than negative. It's always worked for us. I'm counting on it pulling us through this time around, too.

I'm sure we'll get past this. Right now he's still just so excited about the freedom that comes with a toddler bed. But, every parent knows how precious that time is after your kids go to bed. It's not relaxing when two hours of that precious time is spent convincing a child that his bed is the best place to be right now. I'm sure, soon enough Jax will earn his Taz. I'm sure he'll figure out how to put his blanket back on himself. Until then, I'm just going to keep reminding myself just how wonderful he is the other 95% of the time. Maybe I have it too easy. Maybe my kids are so good that I needed a challenge. Yeah, that's it.

Meanwhile, here's the little turkey hanging out at the pool. He already had his floaties on when a little boy offered to let Jax borrow the horse ring. Between the floaties, ring and his belly we had one buoyant little guy. He's so cute. Even when he's frustrating. That's a talent.

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