This sibling news, spoken as if it is going to happen tomorrow, comes as quite a shock to some who don’t know that we have been in process to adopt a second Indian princess for over a year and a half; and to those who are aware of this tumultuous journey, spurs them to question if we have received “news” of which we unfortunately have not. In any case, Devi is convinced that her sister is waiting in India for us to come and get her, and so she is preparing herself to be the best big sister she can by asking the important questions...Can I hold her? Can I kiss her? Can I share my toys with her? Can I feed her? Can I sleep beside her? These welcomed conversations come often and are always genuinely sweet.
With this in mind, on January 1st, Devi asked if we could put up her big girl bed. We’ve held off for months, but felt this milestone was a good way to start the new year, as just a year ago, January 1st, she began wearing princess panties; no more diapers.
Together, the three of us took apart the crib, thoroughly dusted and vacuumed the vacated room, and directly on the floor, positioned the box spring and mattress, donated by my sister, in the spot the crib once occupied. Adorned with the hand-me-down quilt sewn by Devi’s namesake, her great great Aunt Rose, and with all the various stuffed animals, security objects and blankets in place we declared the transformation done. Devi was thrilled, immediately trying it out to check fit, cush and comfort. She was so proud and somehow, knowing that two of her cousins also slept in this bed makes it extra special!
Night one. She asked if we could have story time, lullaby and prayers in bed, rather than in the rocking chair as we usually do. Great! It seemed that this transition was seamless. On cue, her thumb had taken it’s sleepy time position in her mouth and pokey, her blanket square had miraculously wrapped itself in it’s special folded way around her hand with a furry part on her nose, and silky part between her first two fingers. Kisses and the closing of eyes was all that was needed to complete our night time ritual. But, this didn’t happen.
I’ll be the first to admit that we have been blessed with the easiest of children to raise thus far, which does make me more fearful of her teenage years, but suffice to say, she has waltzed through infancy and toddler milestones practically raising herself. Sleeping, feeding, talking, babysitters, potty training, entering preschool, vacationing - have all come naturally (knock on wood) while we, the first time parents have watched and...okay, have probably taken some undeserved credit for.
On this night came the “stall” of questions, whines and cries. Finally exhausting all her efforts, I made it out of the room, closed the door and listened as she whined a bit. Then she screamed out “mom” and although I thought I might have been manipulated, I went into the room, more to check that she was still in bed than anything. I settled her down, tucked her in and left the room. Somewhat baffled, I was unsure of how to handle this new development. Gone was my lights out 7:30pm to 6:30am kid, and because she has always been so easy, we never learned how to handle real sleep issues. In the course of one evening we had gone from old pros to inept parents.
Night two came on an evening we were entertaining friends for dinner. I was encouraged because our guests did receive a Devi guided tour of her new bed, complete with test drive. Devi was an absolute pill through dinner, however, so when lights-out time came, I decided to take the tough momma approach and not enter the room if she fussed. Although whining a bit when I closed the door, I knew that she would momentarily drift off. This did not happen. After a good 15 minutes of crying, I heard the intonation change in her cry and decided I needed to get things in check. I entered the room and raised my voice, in that tough momma tone, that it was night night time. I was surprised to see that she was out of bed, crying real tears and throwing things. Oh boy, I flubbed-up! She was truly scared and needed me. Feeling awful, I took her into my arms, calmed her down and eventually got her back in bed. As I was rubbing her back, she looked up at me and asked between those almost crying gulps of air, “Momma, is it okay if I close my eyes?” Melt my heart, poor baby. Okay, so now feeling massive guilt, I’ve given her reason for life long counseling!
The next morning her first words to me were , “Momma, I’m sorry for my bad behavior.” I apologized for my bad behavior too and cuddled together, we had a long discussion. I discovered that she does not want to bring the crib back but has two big fears; the dark and pirates. The dark is understandable, the reason for her night light, but pirates? It turns out, in passing, she witnessed part of a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean at a Best Buy store while shopping recently with daddy and it has definitely stuck with her. E-gads, pirates, pillaging and turning into skeletons, how do we dispel that?
Third night, we tried leaving the hall lights on and door open, with not much improvement. At this point, I doubted that even bringing the crib back would solve our pirate issue and I was silently praising parents of children with sleep issues because I do not possess the patience required for this on a nightly basis. Even after a long conversation about how pirates are really just daddy’s in Halloween costumes, she was still frightened and unbelieving.
Fourth day. I had another long talk with Devi about the big girl bed. She insisted that she did not want the crib back. Okay, onto plan B. Daddy, Devi and I entered her room in the early afternoon and I explained that all mother’s have cans of invisible monster and pirate spray. At first she shouted, “No, no!” until I told her it is a repellent and keeps them away forever! I passed a can of spray to her and daddy, we each gave them a good shake and together we gave her room a healthy dose, laughing and even spraying each other along our way. In the closets, around the furniture and in the drapes we sprayed until she was sure we had hit every spot. When bedtime came, we negotiated leaving her India hanging light on until she fell asleep and that was that. Absolutely no fussing! One last final kiss, closed the door and silence...I got my girl back!
Update! Tonight there was a bit of fussing...15 minutes max and she is now snoozing away!