LittleBear goes to bed with the following cuddly toys:
- 1 giant squid
- 6 penguins
- 2 sharks
- 1 seal
- 1 owl
- 1 wannanosaurus
- 1 stingray
- 1 pteranodon
On the occasion in question, some half hour after being put to bed, LittleBear required assistance in bed because, "I don't have enough things to snuggle".
A few days ago, we started a new regime of LittleBear being allowed to read to himself at bedtime and have his light switched out later than previously, in the hope that he'd be a little bit more tired and thus fall asleep more easily. This worked a treat for the first two days when we were at GrannyBear's house. Then we came home, and went straight back to the bad old ways, of finding something to start complaining about between fifteen and thirty minutes after being put to bed. Last night, "my knee feels funny", to which he received short shrift, over the monitor, and was told there was nothing we could do and he should just snuggle down and sleep.
Then came tonight, where I truly feel I excelled myself at this parenting lark.
"I feel funny"
"What sort of funny?"
"I don't know, I can't explain. There's something not right."
With an eye-roll and a sigh, off I went upstairs.
"Do you feel sick?"
"No. I just feel funny. I think it's because I didn't get my back stroke*."
This was the straw that broke the Mother Camel's back and I proceeded to be so tetchy, and so unsympathetic, and so annoyed at having my evening interrupted again that I reduced my little lamb to a whimpering, tearful little lamb. I told him I was sick of him making up stupid reasons to have me come upstairs again. I told him I was sick of not being able to sit down and relax and do what I wanted for once. I told him that I'd had enough and this had to stop. I was cross and horrible, and he was sad. Because that's a guaranteed way of making sure he's calm and happy and ready for sleep.
We cuddled and made peace, and he got an extra back stroke, and I assured him that I loved him completely and utterly, and would never, ever abandon him, and would always help fix any problem if I could.
No prizes for guessing which small boy was quivering and crying ten minutes later because, "I can't stop thinking about horrible things."
Fortunately, I was feeling sufficiently awful for my previous lack of maternal affection that I galloped upstairs and enveloped him in cuddles and kisses and soothed away the darkness with him.
The simple solution to the current impasse is clearly to relax about the whole thing, because LittleBear requiring one additional bit of reassurance before falling asleep is not exactly the worst problem to have. And if I stop letting it get to me, indubitably LittleBear will calm down too and everything will vanish into a miasma of hazy memories. But I'm finding it so much more effective to become unreasonably and disproportionately irate about the situation every single evening, and then lash out verbally at LittleBear. Because I'm that kind of awesome mother.
* Part of our bedtime ritual is that I gently rub LittleBear's back while talking to him. Just like his mother before him, he finds this immensely soothing. It is vital that the back rubbing occurs under his pyjamas. Given that this is how I used to settle him for a nap when he was little, I cannot be surprised that it's something he associates with calm and sleep.