Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Loop

Could someone please explain to my daughter that waking up the entire family at 5:30 in the morning is really not such a good idea? Especially when she wakes us with her "loop statements." At bedtime, she has 2 or 3 standard phrases that she uses and repeats and never actually takes action on but thinks that she will get attention from. "I need to tell Daddy something." That's the first sign of trouble. As soon as she starts needing to tell Daddy something, we've entered The Loop. Getting back out is hard and almost always involves fighting and tears. "I don't want a spanking!" This one pops out of her mouth when there is no threat of punishment, no parent in the room, no actual physical threat of any sort to her. I do admit she has been spanked a few times but I'll also tell you that we are not a spanking family. It's a phrase she uses as part of The Loop. The first phrase is delivered with a small voice and a constant whine. The second with a big whine and louder voice. They don't always go together but are often part of the same conversation. No, not conversation. That would imply that we engage her. We try hard not to do so. After a bedtime meltdown and not falling asleep until 8 p.m., I was surprised when Teagan came into our room at 5:30 this morning. Zach had already come to our bed in the middle of the night, as is his habit. Teagan typically comes in around 4:30 and climbs into bed and sleeps with us. This morning, she climbs up to the foot of the bed and starts The Loop. "I need to tell Daddy something." The key to knowing you are in The Loop is that she will never actually have anything to tell Daddy. Ever. No matter how you respond, there is never an actual question or statement that follows. However, when you do try to contain the situation, phrase 2 pops out. "I don't want a spanking!" I had picked her up and was laying her next to me, on the outside part of the bed- where she normally climbs up and falls asleep on these mornings. And what I got was that phrase. The funny thing is, when she whines that urgent demand, it triggers an impulse to smack her. Good thing Jeff and I have impulse control. This morning, she managed to wake the entire family in about 60 seconds. So now we are tired and sleepy and cranky and having a hard time responding positively to the demands and needs and wants and complaints of our daughter. I'm slightly baffled and a little ticked off because she's normally pretty considerate in the morning- comes in, snuggles up, no problem. It's not like we've never talked about needing sleep. It's not like we've never talked about sleeping more and not waking moms and dads in the middle of the night. So if you see me today and seem a little zombie-like, no worries. It's just that my daughter woke up in The Loop.

13 comments:

Shell said...

I hate mornings like that. Ours wasn't quite that early, but it certainly didn't not start well. At. all.

I'm ready for a nap and it's not even 9am yet.

Garret of Jim and Garret said...

And what I got was that phrase. The funny thing is, when she whines that urgent demand, it triggers an impulse to smack her. Good thing Jeff and I have impulse control.

I don't know how you do it. I really don't.

Flartus said...

How about, "Sorry, Daddy's not open for requests until 8:00 am. Please try back again at that time."

Whaaat????

Rosie's the same way; she'll never just tell me what she wants...talk about whining! :D

mimbles said...

Crumbs. I think I'm with Garret, I'm not sure my impulse control is that good!

(When I'm walking around like a zombie tomorrow it'll be because I still have about 4 hours work to do for tomorrow and it's nearly 2 am. Sometimes working from home doesn't work out so well.)

Karen said...

I'm housesitting at my mom's place this weekend and I woke up this morning to her alarm clock going off. What???

Now the dogs are both snoring, but here I am. Wide awake.

babybeezymom said...

I can totally relate!

Teacher Tom said...

This makes me grateful to now have a teenager who will sleep until noon if we let her!

Children sometimes fall into these kinds of "looping" patterns. It usually starts as an effort to self-comfort that kind of takes on a life of its own. We had a boy last year who could fold his ears shut. His mom said he started doing it to block out the sound of his baby sister's crying, but it became obsessive and he'd do it compulsively. A friend of ours' daughter continually hitched up her pants (I mean like every 30 seconds!). You might feel like your loop is far more aggravating than these examples, but believe me these parents were going crazy!

The good news is they tend to pass.

If you want to help this one along, however, you might try a little mirroring, such as answering her, "I need to tell Daddy something," with "No, I need to tell you something," then let it hang. It can be done with a laugh and a cuddle. It might give her a little insight into her own behavior. I know my own daughter's "Why?" stage was cut off abruptly when a younger girl did it to her until she shouted, "Stop asking that question!"

For what it's worth . . .

Joanie M said...

I remember those times oh so well. Makes me more appreciative of my empty nest. And don't be hating on me. It took me 25 years to get this empty nest. I earned it! And so will you.

C. Beth said...

Uuuuugh. So frustrating. I'm sorry!

Nancy C said...

Oh, the whining. It puts my teeth on edge. I catch myself whining, 'Stoooooooooop whiiiiiiiiing," which kind of defeats the purpose.

I hate it when I catch myself engaging in conversation. I really should know better.

Mellodee said...

Funny, I don't remember my daughter ever waking me at 5:30 in the morning except if she was sick. She probably knew that I'd not respond well. I am not, in any way, shape, or form, capable of functioning until its light! Sometimes not even then...

Mickey said...

I feel your pain. Rae's loop starts with "I need to tell you a secret"

Kristi said...

My 9 year old has a similar "Loop" except hers starts at 12 or 1 am and it is "Mommy, I want you." It has been that way since she was about 2 and she's never looked back. Here's hoping you will have better luck than I did at breaking that cycle. I am still looking for any way to do it that will stick. :)