The art of getting mami to sleep and how my toddler has perfected it

So my husband and I are taking turns putting our son to sleep now that we've mentally swung again on this pendulum issue of which bed he should be sleeping in. For the last couple of months we'd been followers of this philosophy but ever since we came back from Iran, something shifted yet again after we put him in his bed alone one night and noticed that he didn't wake up mentally damaged from the experience. This realization is what has fueled our solo sleep efforts from the kid these past three weeks. I'll be truthful and tell you that all three of us have encountered varied measures of success with the new experiment. For his part, R seems resigned to the new state of affairs even as he constantly devises ways of circumventing the final outcome. Personally, I think we are all trying hard to make it work this time around and that is how things should be. A certain level of challenge in life is sometimes good for the soul but I digress...

I've found that M is much better at this process than I am though. He gets the kiddie bathed, dressed, teeth washed and promptly shuffled over to the scene of the crime after dutifully saying buenas noches to his mami, in NO-TIME-FLAT. Like a pro he also manages to negotiate the amount of books to be read and the exact number of lingering kisses he's willing to give before R turns them into a staying ploy. Me? I wish I could tell you I had his level of expertise.

In all this R, being the smart kid that he is, has swiftly caught on to the subtext of what both his parents mean when bed time nears. For example, he's discovered that when his Babi says it is time to sleep, it REALLY is time to sleep but that when his mami says it's time to sleep, there's probably an extended half hour of built-in goofing around before he's forced to get down to business. Another thing he knows is that when he asks mami to read him books as opposed to his father, the stack of books sitting on the nightstand next to the bed may continue to grow because, I find it simply impossible to say no to his Italian sounding por favor. You can imagine that he milks his mashed up accent of his for all it's worth.

What it all boils down to is that I remain stuck in the process of getting him to sleep until I myself start snoring alongside him and if you haven't figured by now that this is his ultimate objective, then you haven't been paying much attention to what I've been telling you.

How lowering to confess that I've been done in by a three-year-old's craftiness. But it's the truth. This is how he managed it last night:

Mami, cantar! Mami sing!

Fine R, what do you want me to sing for you?

Sheh-mwa deh may

You mean Ce mois de mai?

followed by lots of enthusiastic head nodding.

And so I sing my rendition of a simple little 16th-century madrigal by Clément Janequin which I know from my days in the chorale. R loves it and he knows most of the words by heart.

Sheh mwa deh may
sheh mwa deh maaayyy
She mwa deh may
ma vayr de coat-e

I guide...

Ce mois de mai
ce mois de mai
ce mois de mai
ma vers de cote...

and off we go. Repeating the choir over and over because we both love it so much. Me, because my three-year-old is singing a French madrigal and R, because he can sense that his mami is smugly pleased with him for something, even if he's not clear precisely what.

By the time I've become hoarse repeating the lyrics and he looks just a tad drowsy I try to segway into just humming the melody but the kid catches instantly onto the lack of words in the music and imperiously commands me to start singing again.

Mami cantaaaarrrrr!

A few more minutes of this and WHO do you think falls asleep first?

You got it.

The Sun Tzu of sleep, that's who my kid is.


Answers to yesterday's citizenship questions

1. The head of a state government is called a Governor.
2. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.
3. There are nine chief justices of the supreme court.
4. The three branches of government are the Executive, Legislative and Judicial.


Below, Ce mois de mai and how it sounds when sung by a chorale.

Ce Moys de May - FuenteClara


  1. When my G was three she was truly the master of pushing the sleep limits. We Feber-ed, we threatened, we put a mattress on the floor beside the bed, we locked our bedroom door and still, the middle of the night wails of our youngest never failed to break my iron will and she'd vanquish all attempts to make it otherwise, finding her way into our bed. We'd wake there in the morning, my husband and I, sideways and half off the mattress while the little princess dozed peacefully smack in the middle of the eider down. This too shall pass and together sleep is better than no sleep.

  2. When my daughter was about 2 or 3, I was tempted to send her in to my boss to negotiate for a raise. Her tactics were simple but effective.
    "I want a raise."
    "Well, we can't do that right now because ...[insert long and tedious list of reasons here]"
    "I want a raise."
    "Well, as I just explained [blah blah blah goes here]"
    "I want a raise."
    "But that just isn't possible!"
    "I want a raise."
    Eventually, I suppose he would have broken down. Simple persistence is sometimes under-rated as a strategy.

  3. Cce: Sounds like your G has a male double. I'm wondering if maybe you'd like to trade your older trained version for my younger untrained one...

    Ron: I've told you that you crack me up already haven't I? Well you do. Loved this story. Know the feeling. And you should have done it is all I'm saying...

  4. Very interesting how you and M have different effects on the getting to bed process....I suppose switching back and forth will keep it interesting!

  5. Your boy is good, very good. He's probably teaching all the kids in the neighborhood. And with smarts like that, he's probably making a killing!

    I know I shouldn't laugh at your expense, but it is kind of funny. ;-)

    My girl still (at 7) wanders into our room in the middle of the night. It only bothers me when I'm awake, and I don't mind snuggling, but I'll be sooo happy when everyone is in his/her own bed for the whole night. I'm greedy about my sleep!

    But if I could sing MYSELF to sleep? That's gold!

  6. Yes, kiddos are certainly crafty when it comes to avoiding sleep or anything else they don't want to do. My girls will push and push til I finally draw a line in the sand.

  7. I have to giggle, and give a happy little sigh, that all the little people in our lives are dogged in their pursuit of their dreams of staying up way past bedtime...

  8. Suzanne: I think that in parenthood one parent is always better than another at certain tasks. M beats me hands down in the sleeping department. I don't know how he manages. I try to emulate his no-nonsense technique but the kid's not biting.

    Jennifer, I don't know how I fell into singing myself to sleep. It is actually something I've done all throughout my life. The thing is, when I do it, is ME manipulating ME into my zzzs. Now we have this new variable in that equation - the kid puts his mother to sleep.

    I like my sleep too and now I'm getting plenty of it just not in the bed of my choosing.

    Kelcey: I know where you are coming from since I've seen what your little girls get up to. Talk about crafty... That's what makes them so adorable though and you girls have 'adorable' down pat.

    Nona: Between R and Clara, we've got our work cut out for us. And you know what? The nicest thing is to be able to laugh at their antics.

  9. Half-Past Kissin' TimeJuly 2, 2008 at 4:51 PM

    I loved those nights (and naps) that began with singing. Just loved them. I sang Amazing Grace a lot with Kendall, plus a song I wrote to each of them. You've inspired me to write a post about it. Thanks.


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