Friday, January 15, 2010

A cell fit for a princess

Who remembers what a cute nursery Delaney used to have?  It was my pride and joy in Massachusetts, the one room I took a good long look at with a lump in my throat before the movers came.  Delaney's ladybug nursery that Tim had conspired with his family to surprise me with its completion when I was six months pregnant with her.  When we moved here, we transferred it over as best we could, but without paint and wallpaper, since we were only staying here 10 months.  I even added a couple of things I thought would make it nicer, as she got a little older.  There was the sling bookshelf to hold all her books in her reach, with the covers facing out.  I'd even stuck leftover ladybugs and dragonflies to the side of it.  There was the little wooden rocking chair we made off with from Tim's parents', that was the perfect size for a munchkin.  Sometimes at story time, I would sit in the large wooden rocker, and she would sit in the small one, since she usually didn't like to sit in my lap anymore.  I even added a little toy box of sorts, with a couple puzzles in it, so she had her own little space to play.  That was the first thing to go when the insanity started.

Then we converted her crib to a toddler bed a few weeks ago, when she learned how to climb in and out of it.  Now her entire room is only a couple steps away from being converted to a padded room in a mental hospital.  She's losing her nice things one by one, but only Tim and I seem to care.  First went her little rocking chair, that Tim had lovingly repaired after it broke during the move.  I got tired of listening to her toss it around, and I didn't want it to break for good.  Next went the bookshelf I love, after I heard a crash one day during what we now refer to as "quiet time", and came upstairs to find it knocked over.  A few days ago, Tim came home from work and was sad to see the large wooden rocker in the middle of the family room  instead of beside her bed.  He remembered how he used to read stories to her with her on his lap, her drowsy head on his chest.  She'd used it to climb on top of her bureau, and that was that.  Her armoire is strapped to the wall, and the knobs are removed from the drawers.  I dearly hope she doesn't find another way to hurt herself with it, but there's nowhere else in the house to put it.  Her bureau is a low, squat, heavy thing that I couldn't even manage to pull over, but then again..

Oh, and then about an hour ago, I used the same threat with Delaney that Tim had used before, successfully.  "Delaney, if I hear any more noise, I'm coming in here and taking all your books and toys."  I felt so sad and defeated as I went back up there a half hour later to make good on my threat.

Every day I go through the same routine with her that I always have.  "Naptime" or "quiet time" is nothing new around here.  It's an important part of the day that I refuse to give up on because experts say kids this age still need naps; and even more importantly, Mama needs time to recharge her batteries.  But my batteries do not get recharged.  I cringe at every noise I hear now, and dash up those stairs every 20 minutes or more, afraid of what I might find.  I live in fear.  What's next?  Blinds broken?  Room-darkening shade ripped off the rod? Her head busted open?

I've tried niceness and meanness, and consequences.  During non- quiet time hours, time-outs are very effective with her for discipline.  But obviously that won't work, if she views quiet time as one long time-out.  I told Tim, if there was ever a time I thought she deserved a spanking, it's when she's wreaking havoc when she's supposed to be resting, and then waking her sister, to boot!  But Tim and I agree that spanking is not for us.

The other day, she slept for once, and so did Annie, and then so did I for a little while.  It was like heaven.  Why can't it be like that every day?  What am I doing wrong?  The Sleep Lady can not help me here.  Or maybe she could, if I was willing to pay $300 for a phone consultation. That'll be the day, when I pay someone $300 to talk to me on the phone!

I remember how, with care, love and joy, Tim and I selected every piece of furniture that went into that room.  We wanted the best.  Now we know, we could have thrown a mattress into the middle of an empty room and saved ourselves the trouble.  I realize now that every last detail that went into her nursery was really for us, not for her.  I still have the pictures, and it was lovely while it lasted.  If I have tears smarting my eyes right now, at least I can comfort myself with the fact that all of these nice things never mattered much to her.  They were all for me -- the big surprise, the nice furniture, all of it.  The only thing she ever needed was a quiet place to rest her head.

And now Mr. Clock is probably saying it's time to "wake up," and I hear the thud-thud-thud at the door.  I might be looking into a padded room for myself here soon.

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