Friday, July 25, 2014

I Give Until It Hurts; It's My Cross to Bear

An old friend, who I just recently discovered is a faithful reader of this here humble blog, and who probably thought he could trust me, posted a tongue-in-cheek request for advice on my Facebook page. He’s father to two of the most adorable little people in the Midwest, which means he’s being manipulated on an hourly basis and is sinking fast under the onslaught of cute. Since I’m always looking for things to write about that take no effort on my part, I thought I’d exploit him here. Besides, he needs my help, and why am I here, if not to bring solace to those in need?

He writes:

Dear Leida (Abby),

I am the father of a child that likes to get up at five every morning for "dad payers". He will go back to sleep but then oversleeps and makes us both late. LOL... As I said, I'm exploiting him, so I choose to take this as a request for advice. You are welcome.

Dear, “P’ayers”:
Ah, yes...the pre-dawn “dad payer” sneak attack. I know it well. And I know you, too.

This little cupie doll has you wrapped around his finger, what with all the eyelashes, and bed head, and cuddles, and “p'aying.” He knows your weak spots and it looks like prayer is one of them. I can relate—my kid knows the only time I will let him play with my phone if he asks to use the Bible app on there. *shrug* #faithfulparenting. Your son knows you haven’t awakened to natural light since he figured out how to pole vault out of his crib. By the time sunlight shines through your windows, your little negotiator has worn you down with a list of inane demands, until he finally lands on one that will win you over.  You run 15 to 30 minutes behind schedule every morning because, after you finally give in and let him stay in your bed, you fall deeply asleep 20 minutes before your alarm is set to go off and sleep through the damned thing, And we all know there is no more satisfying slumber than that of the vanquished. It’s Stockholm Syndrome, for sure, but who cares when it feels so good?

Let’s keep it real. On your own, you don't stand a chance against him, and I can bet your wife is as susceptible to him as you are, so she’s no help. But take heart, I’m here. I’ve developed a tough, outer shell to these tactics and I’m not currently within smelling distance of your child (they smell delicious when they’re all sleep-warm, don’t they?) Ahem, anyway, I’m impervious to his charm. I might be your only hope. Follow these three, tried-and-true tips and you’ll see your way to waking up when your alarm actually goes off in the morning, again. Maybe you’ll even make it to the office in time to get a seat at the conference table for staff meeting, instead of skulking in and sitting in the back corner of the room with the Starbucks you just had to stop for. Crazier things have happened.

Anyway, here’s what I suggest. Medical disclaimer: none of this will work.

1. Kick him out of your bed. It’s not time to wake up, and he needs to respect that.
Why won’t this work? He can’t tell time. He’s been asleep for 9 hours already and is too young (read: selfish) to care that you haven’t. He’s rested; therefore it’s time to party! He also has cunning. Much like a snooze timer, he will let you nod off for 4 ½ minutes, then shock you awake with requests to go pee in the potty, to sit in his high chair and have cereal (that he won’t eat), and the holy grail, a yelp of pain that catapults you out of bed and to his side, where you discover he was actually making that noise to simulate pain in one of his stuffed animals that he was hitting in the head with a train car. This pattern he will repeat until you accept defeat and get up to join him in his pre-dawn shenanigans.

2. Give him what he wants, the first time he asks. Maybe that’ll placate him so you can go back to sleep.
Why won’t this work? You give him an inch, he’ll take a mile. If he can get milk at 5 am on the first try, his pre-frontal cortex will cattle prod the little hamster in there on its wheel (I’m sure that’s how and where decisions are made—do not doubt me), making him wonder, “what else can I get out of this guy right now?” It’s a slippery slope from there. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up giving him your room, where he will relax, in your bed with your wife, eating dry cereal on your pillow, and watching Super Why on your iPad. Meanwhile, you’ll be down the hall, trying to steal a precious few more minutes of sleep in the toddler bed in the nursery.

3. Pull him into bed with you and commence to “p’aying,” in hopes that he’ll fall asleep once you’re done, so you can sleep for another hour.
Why won’t this work? Frankly, you’ve got me stumped. From your letter, it seems you’ve had a degree of success with this tactic, if you can call being late for all the things every day, success. Some of us have not been so lucky. We’ve tried this, only to have our kids wiggle, squirm, and punch in the circle of our arms, turning what was supposed to be a sweet, Gerber-style hour of spooned sleep into torture. It’s not until we can open our eyes all the way and our sensory receptors start to register pain (by 11 am, typically) that we notice the bruises and scratches they’ve left behind. And for our stripes, did we get any more sleep? No, we did not. SO not worth it, IMO...

What’s this all about? What is it they want, you ask? I'm only speculating, but my guess is your bed or your soul. *shrug* Who knows? But there is a bright side! Accept that there’s no way you can win. He gets what he wants and an opportunity for a 2 hour nap after lunch, and you get an excuse to drink in the afternoon.



  1. This is awesome!! Thank you !! I found this very insightful and funny. I am humbled to have been a subject of one of your awesome blogs!!

  2. :) Glad you like it, and really? Thank you.