This past weekend, we hit a pretty big low around here. We’d been having all sorts of problems – on top of the myriad other sensory problems – with the J-Man pulling off his sleeper (not unzipping it, but just plain shimmying out of it) and diaper every night within five minutes of going to bed, peeing in his bed, and then just lying there. We’d go in, reclothe him, change his sheets, fuss at him, and put him back to bed.
For a while, this was enough. One cycle of him stripping down and us coming in apparently was enough for him to then settle in for the night – clothed – and sleep. There was the other issue that he’d strip the second he woke up in the morning and do the same thing. If we weren’t in there fast enough, it was time to change sheets again and clean him up as part of everything else we do to get him ready in the morning.
Then about a week ago, things really went downhill. He wouldn’t keep anything on while he was in the bed. We tried fleece sleepers with feet, without feet, two-piece pajamas, etc. and nothing stayed on. We’d check on him a few minutes after changing him and the bed, and there he was naked as the day he was born with his clothes and diaper wadded up in the crib with him. Finally, we ran out of clean sheets. We started laundry, but quickly he fell asleep. So, we let him sleep au naturel.
Next morning, he was wet, of course, but we marched him to the shower, cleaned him up, and went on with the day. Next night, same ordeal, so we just gave up and let him sleep that way again. After the last ‘argument’ with him about it, once we let him be, he fell asleep quickly. Same morning, similar trip to the shower and on with the day.
We weren’t happy with this since obviously he doesn’t have enough control yet to not wet his bed, but short of restraints, we had no idea how to keep his clothes on him. He’s widely known for his Houdini skills and feats of flexibility, trust me. We decided to pick the less bad option and let him sleep that way.
This is where the concept of ‘less bad’ takes a hideous turn.
This past Sunday morning… well, let’s just say that the scene involved toxic foulness that I cannot overcome the trauma long enough to describe along with probable cause to call a hazmat team. This may have been one of the lowest points of our parenting. I know other people’s kids do something like this, but this was one of those lines we previously hadn’t crossed. And this coupled with everything else that’s been going on was just too much. In short, Sunday was a really rough day.
That night, we tried brainstorming ideas for what to do next. We couldn’t go through all that again. There had to be some sort of solution. But we weren’t just trying to outsmart a four-year-old; we were also trying to outsmart a sensory system routinely gone completely awry.
Then came the parental equivalent of a Hail Mary pass – what about putting a long-sleeve shirt over his sleeper? He doesn’t unzip the thing. He just shimmies out through the neck hole. A long sleeve shirt would make the neck hole much tighter and he’d have to figure out a way to take the shirt off by himself to overcome that, something he’s not really able to do. (Never thought I’d be glad he hasn’t learned the coordination needed to take his shirt off!)
We’d check the video monitor every few minutes – he was making a variety of noises, but doing it still clothed. Every time we checked – still clothed. Then finally, silence. Mary went in and checked the monitor. She came back down the hall and said, “Asleep… and still clothed.” She raised her arms in victory and did the Shuffle Steps of Triumph. (a video someday, perhaps)
Holy crap, we’d done it.
Next morning he woke up (quite a bit later than he had been recently too), we ran in there, and… still clothed. We couldn’t believe it.
Figuring that we’d already changed a lot, we kept going with the radically-altered routine. No more bath at night (given what was happening, why bother?) and now a shower in the morning. He’s loving the shower now, by the way. That night, we tried the shirt-over-sleeper idea again.
It worked again.
Next morning? Still clothed.
Next night? It worked again.
Next morning? Still clothed.
Here we are on Night Four and he’s asleep, clothed.
Are we smarter than a four-year-old? Highly unlikely. We’ll get humbled again soon enough. But at least for now, we’ll hold our arms up in victory and do the dance. But no cameras allowed.