Apparently the terrible twos are hitting our house late in the game. Frankie has really been testing the limits lately, trying to see what she can get away with. Looking for the weak spots, where there is a little water damage, and seeing if she can punch her fist through. She hit on a nice soft patch the other day and proceeded to pummel as hard as she could. But by golly, this house of discipline had structural integrity she did not suspect! And I am now done with the construction analogies.
Bedtime is usually 7:30 p.m. for her and often, since Dean gets home late, she eats before he gets home and then the two of us eat dinner together after both girls are in bed. Since he gets up at 5 a.m. and I get up at 6 a.m. (it doesn't look so bad in writing, but it truly truly is), by the time bedtime rolls around we are pale shadows of our formerly vivacious and playful selves. We are also usually wracked with hunger pains, especially Dean since he often skips lunch due to lingering fears of obesity buried deep in his psyche by his overweight childhood. So the other night Frankie sized us up and surmised that we would, in our malnourished and fatigued states, be easy marks. She first played it cool and cooperated nicely with the bedtime routine. Pee, brush teeth, pretend to drink coffee out of small red cup, turn on fan, pretend we can't find her favorite book, discover to our everlasting surprise that it underneath her, read two books, read titles of five Little Golden books listed on the back cover, pray, sing two verses of Be Thou My Vision, tuck in like a burrito, reassure that she does not need to close her eyes, confirm whether Daddy has off tomorrow, retuck like a burrito, and close door loudly to confirm it is shut tightly. So that went off without a hitch. We went downstairs singing loudly "Ding Dong, the witch is dead!" and got ready to tuck into a large Glenside Pub pizza. Before we could take a bite, we started to hear some loud talking from upstairs and turned on the monitor to hear "I'M NOT SLEEPING IN THIS BED!!! I'M NOT SLEEPING IN THIS BED!!!" This went on for about five minutes and then evolved into "I'M NOT SLEEPING IN ANY BED!! I'M NOT SLEEPING IN ANY BED!!" Since the screaming and thrashing wouldn't stop and we didn't want Molly to wake up, we went upstairs and tried to calmly and rationally explain that she was, in fact, going to sleep in this bed and if she got in right now we would be happy to retuck her like a burrito. She looked us in the eye, calmly declared "I'm not sleeping in this room. I'm not sleeping in your room. I'm not sleeping in the tan room. I'm not sleeping in Molly's room. I'm not sleeping anywhere.," and rolled right out and started confidently marching to the door. At that point we went all Super Nanny on her and just picked her up and put her in her bed without a word and then closed the door. Quick as a cat could wink her eye, she was at the door pummeling it with her feet and roaring about never sleeping again. We opened it silently and carried her back to bed and deposited her there. And we proceeded to do this, oh, conservatively, seventy five times. Finally, snot running freely and eyes puffy, she told us she was ready to get in bed. We high-fived each other and winked over our parental victory and then prayed with her and told her we forgave her and did an abbreviated routine. As soon as our hot little hands hit that doorknob, the quiet moaning began and a soft "I am not sleeping in this bed" quickly escalated into full blown shouting and frothing at the mouth and mad 100-yard dashes to the door. So there we found ourselves, at 9:15 p.m., roping her lockless doorknob to the guest room doorknob with a Christmas green extension cord so she couldn't wrest it open anymore. It was definitely the nadir of parenthood. Ten minutes later, when she realized no one was coming anymore she turned out her light and got back in bed. I will admit we did go back in then and kiss her. Even with the sweet taste of victory in our mouths, we mustered some compassion.
The next morning Frankie was very contrite. She apologized and then chucked me gently under the chin and said "Love you always." And suddenly, without a lingering thought, the valley became the mountaintop again.