Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Just a Healthy Dose of Pirate Spray

Containment being a key feature of a crib, we have been reluctant to make the transition to Devi’s “big-girl” bed. For whatever reason, however, Devi has recently taken an interest in taking this step. It might be because much of her conversation these days revolves around the fact that she is going to be a big sister and with this comes the need to free up the crib for her sibling.

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!


Kristi W. said...

Woohoo! Sweet victory!! Love the monster and pirate spray idea. That was quite the creative parenting strategy. Too cute!


Traci said...

A great story. Thanks for posting and congratulations! :)

Anonymous said...

Way to go on the bed transition.I had heard of the spray idea before and it sounds like it worked out great for you all.We had the same changes only with our son it was from our bed to his--we bought a clock radio that has bird sounds,waves,etc.and that helped alot.We also bought him one of the Fisher Price flashlights with the different color wheels.It worked.Glad yours did too.What a sweet precious girl she is and she will make a great big sister when the time comes.

The Labontes said...

What a big girl! Go Devi!

I'm completely jealous since bedtime is still a struggle for us each and every night with Max. He still ends up in our bed eventually (sigh). I agree that when you've had it easy, the hard stuff seems extra hard. We had 2 easy ones, and then my little Max :) I'm glad they make 'em cute ;)

Pam said...

Oh Julie~ the bedtime battles. 2+ years of night after night...and let me tell's not easy to maintain sense of humor or patience. When we finally discovered Micah's sleep issues were results of his food allergies-blessed relief. Glad your pirate spray worked! :)

The Pfeiffer Family said...

This is a wonderful story with a great ending! The pirate/monster spray idea is pure genius. So happy Devi is now in her big girl bed and baby sister can take over the crib.

April :-)

Peter and Nancy said...

We switched over to the toddler bed as part of Anya Rashi's 3rd birthday "big girl" festivities. Blessedly, it was seamless . . . but if you have a can of something that will solve our "going #2 in my pants" issues, I'd love one! Potty training was no sweat, but even the Kristi "cold water" method didn't work for our opinionated little girl. Sigh.

Lynda said...


So glad the can of pirate spray helped! I thought we would have to get one of spider spray for one of our daughters but it appears now that she is ok without it, so far. It's a great idea to keep in mind though.
Yeah for Devi, such a big girl!


Karen said...

You guys are such amazing parents! Hooray for you for all your creativity with the Big Girl Bed!
Thanks for all the adorable pix ... Devi is such an expressive little sprite.
xoxo from all of us!
Karen & crew

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Charlotte said...

Had you receive the referal picture for the little sister?

Devi is ready, she give her baby bed and accept a big girl bed.

Beth said...

Pirate spray! Who knew. I could use a can or two myself...where'd you get it :)

Seriously, every time I read your blog I file away a little tip for "later." Kudos to you and your hubby for instilling a sense of wonder and play into even the most challenging of times.