Saturday, December 18, 2010

Juggling Act

Last night, The Wife and I had an interesting clash of parenting styles. Here's the situation: Younger Bro wasn't feeling particularly well, so he was sleeping very lightly and very poorly. It was 10:35PM (both boys having taken very late naps), and The Boy had finished his bedtime procedures, albeit amended somewhat because of the hour and our own state of exhaustion.

The strikes against us: Younger Bro's normally light sleeping was lighter than usual; we didn't read The Boy his stories and go through all of the normal steps; The Boy was overtired and overstimulated; he hadn't slept in his own bed for a couple of nights; The Wife, not I, took The Boy into his room for bed; and we, the parents, were exhausted and frustrated.

So, The Boy flipped out, as one would predict. The tantrum woke up his brother, and we had two frantically screaming children. At this point, my tendency would be to snuggle one or both boys in bed with us until they calmed down; we might move them or we might not.

The Wife, instead, decided that last night would be The Last Straw. The Boy was going to sleep In His Own Bed, come hell or high water. She got very, very firm with him - much more firm than I've ever gotten, bordering on raising her voice, overriding his screaming and crying. Younger Bro wound up sleeping a chunk in the other bedroom in the boys' playpen.

My general feeling about this one is that firmness at 10:30PM while exhausted is not the right call. The boys are quite young, and they just don't understand why the adult is angry with them. The Boy wants to snuggle with his loving parents (particularly Daddy), and Younger Bro wants to be soothed and consoled because of his illness. They're still young enough to see us as their primary caretakers and friends. We should be enjoying that for as long as we're able to enjoy it.

Of course, this doesn't fix the problem of getting The Boy to start to listen to us, and start to take some more independence for himself (potty issues, his own bed, et al). One can make a believable slippery slope showing the descent into teenage thuggage (is that a word?) from the lack of boundaries set at a young enough age.

Long story short, when The Wife started to bear down, I ran and hid. It wasn't the right time for push-over Musical Daddy to run to crying boys and soothe them. Within about ten minutes, both boys were asleep in the proper places and The Wife was in bed, herself, having handled things much more efficiently and smoothly than I could have - and did - handle them.

So, did we do the right thing, wading in with the figurative bat to get discipline and order restored? What would you do in that situation?

The coda was: within an hour, The Boy was in bed with us. At around 2AM, Younger Bro woke up and spent a couple of hours on Grandma's lap downstairs, watching Barney ad nauseum until returning to sleep around 4AM.

No comments: