Battle of wills

There’s not been an uninterrupted night of sleep at my house for almost two full weeks.

My son has decided that he will fall asleep at his normal bed time of 8:30 and then wake up between 11:00 and midnight and start screaming.  We tried to hold our ground by letting him scream and cry until he wears himself out and falls back asleep. 

It’s amazing how little will power you have at 1:00 in the morning because we gave in every night last week and my wife put him in bed with her and the two of them slept in the guest bedroom. 

I’m not sure what the problem is and why he won’t sleep.  A friend told us to blame it on teething.  I don’t think teething is the problem because as soon as you put him in bed with you he falls asleep and “sleeps like a baby”.

We made the decision that the weekend would provide us the opportunity to “fix” the problem.  Our plan was to let him “cry it out” no matter how long it took and Friday night we set the plan in action. 

We read him three books, gave him some milk and he fell asleep at his normal 8:30 time.  We put him in his bed, put the baby gate up at his door and after a week of short nights it didn’t take long for my wife and I to be in bed and asleep ourselves.  Then it started – THE BATTLE OF WILLS.

At 11:30 he woke up and began crying “Momma”.  At 12:30 he must have decided that his Momma wasn’t coming to his rescue because he then cried “Dadda”.  We held our ground.

For some reason he didn’t have much faith in me because he only cried “Dadda” for 30 minutes but that’s when he pulled out the big guns.  He went straight from cries of “Dadda” to “Help me, Help me, Help me”.  I don’t care how determined you are, it’s difficult to listen to your child say “help me” and not respond, but we didn’t.  We held our ground.

At 1:30 in the morning he launched an offensive that would win the first battle of the night – but I was determined it would not win the war for him.  You see, at 1:30 he began yelling “I pooped” then “Momma, I pooped” then “Dadda, I pooped”.  What could we do, we had to check on him.  Afterall, if he had pooped it would not be fair to him to not change his diaper.  We had to cross into enemy territory and check the diaper.

As you might have guessed the diaper was clean but we felt better knowing.  We placed him back in his bed, put the baby gate up, left the room and he began crying immediately.  He was back to “Momma” then to “Dadda” then to “Help me” and finally back to “I pooped”.  We weren’t falling for any of it this time, we knew his tricks!  We held our ground.

It was now 2:30 a.m. and the ordeal had been going on for three full hours when he changed tactics once again.  We could hear what sounded like doors opening and closing.  There are only three doors in his room.  One door to enter the room which we knew was still open because we could hear everything he was doing, one door to the bathroom which adjoins his room but that door is locked and the third door is the door to the closet which is locked as well.  Our curiosity got the best of us so we sneaked across the living room and peeked around the corner.  We could have never predicted what we were about to see.

As if to save his sinking ship, my son methodically opened every drawer on each of his two dressers and began throwing the contents of the drawers over his baby gate into the hall.  There were pillows, blankets, t-shirts, pants, shorts, hats, toys, diapers and towels piled in the hall as high as the baby gate.  It looked like someone backed a dump truck of toddler gear up to the door of his room and dumped the load.  I don’t know if the sight was humorous or if I was slap happy from lack of sleep but I couldn’t help but laugh and, to be honest, I was kind of proud of his ingenuity.  To our credit though, we didn’t give in – even though it was almost 3:00 a.m..  We held our ground.

We snuck back to our bedroom and about 15 minutes later there was a “bang” from our son’s room.  Probably just a toy drop kicked over the baby gate or a drawer being slammed shut but no matter because he got quite for a few minutes.  Could it be that everything in his room light enough for him to throw was out of his reach and in the hall and he decided to give up.  Could it be that three hours and forty-five minutes of crying were enough to wear him out.  Could it be I was going to get a couple of hours of sleep before the alarm went of at 6:30 a.m..

The “could be” only lasted a couple of minutes before the cries for “Momma” and “Dadda” resumed and oddly they seemed louder than before.  Each cry was louder than the previous cry, so much so that it seemed like he was right outside the door to our bedroom.

The cries were louder because the “bang” was his baby gate.  He had pushed his baby gate over and was making his way across the living room getting closer and closer to our bedroom with each cry. 

Suddenly it all made sense.  The big pile of clothes, towels, pillows and stuffed animals were strategically placed on the outside of his baby gate to cushion his fall and make for a soft landing when he “breached the gate”.   

The war had been won.  My wife had all she could stand so she picked him up and placed him in bed with her and within five minutes the two of them were asleep.

So much for teaching him a lesson Friday night, but we still had Saturday.

Saturday night started and ended much differently.  You see Saturday, he began, and ended, the night in bed with my wife and everyone in the house “slept like a baby”.

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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11 Responses to Battle of wills

  1. Holly says:

    That story made me cry like a baby, from laughing so hard!!

  2. Chrissy says:

    Sorry but this makes me laugh. I would say it will get better but till this day our 9 year old would love to sleep with us. There is no room now so sometimes he ends up on our bedroom floor if not there then in his brothers room. I think that maybe when he turns 16 he won’t want to sleep in our room. Best of Luck!

  3. Kristen Bertz says:

    Let him sleep with you…someday he won’t even want to talk to you much less cuddle up in your bed. Give in and enjoy it.

  4. Russ Christenson says:

    As the father of three, and the grandfather of seven, I would suggest that this is a war which all parenst are destined to lose. We lose because we love. Do your best to fight this thing to a “draw,” and hope that things get better by the time he is a teenager.


  5. Alexa Thompson says:

    honey ,, he needs to sleep with you some night.. 🙂 there is nothing like a toddler rubbing your head at 2 am, or feet in your side, or the scary feeling that you actually got some sleep you wake up startletd bc you can’t feel him snuggled next to you and you are scared that you were so tired that you slept through him falling on the floor. Then you relize that he is fine but you can’t sleep now bc you are nervous. you just can’t win for loosing. it’s the new norm babe

  6. Gail Mothersbaugh says:

    Rather than giving in to him and letting him get his way I would have swatted his bottom… firmly put him back into bed, put the baby gate back up and went to bed.

    Then in the morning when I was rested, HE would help clean up the mess. I know it’s tough, but you’ve got to nip this in the bud! YOU are the parent and he is the child.

    I’m from the old school “spare the rod, spoil the child”

  7. Brenda says:

    I so feel your pain. My daughter did the same crying tactic and we would give in and put her in bed with us. At the age of 9 “she” decided it was time to sleep in her own bed. Best of luck.

  8. M. says:

    I went through that with my girls. I’m proud to say that I wasen’t strong enough to “win the battle”. My girls are 6 and 8 and they are still in bed with me..

  9. Kristy Brzuchalski says:

    There is nothing wrong with him sleeping in your bed. Madison (5 years old) still sleeps with me and Blake (almost 11) still asks to. Which I let him because I know someday he will not want to. They are only little once so enjoy it while you can. They grow up so fast.

  10. Cam Lewis says:

    I’m not into giving advise on how to “win the war” or ignore it. I must say, you are a good story teller. My advice is to keep a collection of these stories so your child(ren) can read them when they are older and can truly appreciate them. Keep Alexa’s comments too. Some of the best belly laughs we’ve had as a family where when the elders were tellling tales about when we were all little!! What fun!

  11. Your ‘blogs’ need ‘like’ buttons!!

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