Home > Family, Parenting > The Battle of Bedtime

The Battle of Bedtime

My six-year-old, Li’l D, cherishes his sleep. He’s been this way since he was only a few months old.

My two-year-old, Littler J, is affronted by the existence of sleep. He’s been this way since he was only a few months old.


It wasn’t a big deal when Li’l D started climbing out of his crib. He wanted to sleep, so we’d pat him for a couple minutes and he’d conk out.

When Littler climbed out of his crib for the first time last week, his dad and I exchanged looks of horror.

We’d known It was coming, but this meant It was officially coming soon.

“Soon” came last night.

Littler climbed out of his crib and played at his sleeping brother’s feet.

“Back to bed, Sweetie,” we said as we placed him back in his crib.

Two minutes later, he was back at his brother’s feet … but only after he’d closed their bedroom door.

His dad and I laid him down and opened the door.

He climbed out and closed it again.

“Could you get a door stop when you get a baby gate?” I asked.

“Naw, we can improvise,” said my husband, Anthony, using toys to create a blockade against Littler’s door-closing efforts.

“He’s gonna clear those in ten seconds,” I warned.

Anthony almost immediately started laughing as his obstacles went flying into the hallway.

“The disdain!” he gasped through chuckles.

He tied a tether around both sides of the door, which tether I predicted Littler would clear in a minute or two.

He did so while Anthony was out getting a baby gate.


(Fortunately, I’d already thrown a jacket over the top of the door, simultaneously perplexing Littler and keeping the door open.)

While Anthony was out, I tried at least a dozen ways to relax Littler into sleep … almost two hours after his usual bedtime.

He finally fell asleep in his bed, his brain overloaded by the Matrix-style revelation the world doesn’t actually stop at his bedtime.

When he did fall asleep, he was pressed up against the front wall of his crib with me cautioning him from the door to stay in bed.

He did so comforted by the temporary illusion the world was indeed as he’d always imagined it.

Though tired, I grinned: My little boy’s a big boy now, but not yet that big! Not yet so big I can’t, as his mom, make the world briefly smaller for him.

  1. Paul
    June 19, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Amazing how different two children can be with the same parents and in the same environment. Good Luck!

  2. N.
    June 19, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Good luck with the little one! At this point Lilly just climbs out of her toddler bed and climbs into ours in the middle of the night πŸ˜‚ Sometimes I don’t even realize she sneaked into our bed till I wake up in the morning with a tiny foot on my face πŸ˜‚

    • June 19, 2016 at 10:52 am

      Aaaah! You will totally get this, then: I recently had a conversation with someone where they said, “You let your six-year-old into your bed?!” I replied with a look that said, “‘Let’? Do you have kids?” If D awakens in the middle of the night, he climbs between his dad and me, a fact which we discover upon awakening. “Let” has nothing to do with it!

      • N.
        June 19, 2016 at 10:53 am

        Hahaha! So true πŸ˜‚ Our input on the matter is neither asked for nor needed πŸ˜†

  3. June 19, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    This is funny to read, but I’m sure it was less so in person. Hopefully the baby gate holds the little escape artist. He’s a smarty.

    • June 19, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      One night was delightful, but naptime … well, that didn’t happen despite his exhaustion (his having awakened at 5 a.m. like usual), so that I’m wondering how I’ll be feeling about all of this in a day or two …

  4. June 19, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    The world is just toooo big for some to sleep and miss anything isn’t it?
    Good luck. Lots and lots of luck.

    • June 19, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      Thank you! We’ll likely have the new world order sorted out in a few days, which will almost certainly be full of silliness and sleepiness all around. πŸ™‚

  5. June 19, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    And so it goes.

    • June 19, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      Even with the short term sleeplessness, I love these moments of clear transition. It’s so neat to lay Littler down one night and pick him up to see (and hear!) a whole new range of expressions the next morning. What a treat to see tiny people grow up and into themselves. πŸ™‚

  6. June 19, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Too cute. Smart resourceful little guy. I really like how you saw the humor and acceptance of him getting older rather than the negative of it all, although I am sure after two hours it was frustrating…;)

    • June 20, 2016 at 5:14 am

      It is sooooo adorable to see him transforming before my eyes! I feel like I am starting to see more clearly him as him, not him as seedling. It’s a lovely and endearing thing. πŸ™‚

  7. June 19, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Awe mama. He’s upgraded! I’ve had two climbers. They are still a handful-but on the fun scale (Birdie, 10 yrs old-especially) is an 11 on a 1 to 10 scale. Baby gates schmaby gates…
    I’m glad he finally fell asleep, and that you get to remember this moment, because it is sooo important as a mama to know you still have that mom-power to calm the waters.πŸ’œ

    • June 20, 2016 at 5:21 am

      “Upgraded” is exactly right! I couldn’t find the word to express what I was witnessing. That’s it!

      The baby gate is no laughing matter, though. The gate dramatically minimizes his self-threat radius by enabling him access to a smaller, safer portion of the house. This we do not reactively to trap him in his room but proactively to diminish probability of very real risks to our risk-loving 26-month-old. So, yeah, gonna stick with the schmaby gate, and breathe easier for it.

      • June 20, 2016 at 5:28 am

        We have two baby gates. Great big ones! We only use them (much as I picture you doing) when baby needs to learn boundaries…like he did yesterday when gpa was over and he left the bathroom door open. It.Was.Awful. Baby knows what toilet paper is for, but not the proper amount, nor the understanding that one does not dunk mama’s make-up brushes. It was also funny, in s gross, can’t believe I didn’t see that coming sort of way!

        • June 20, 2016 at 5:35 am


          Littler adores TP, which he understands in principle … but likes to use in, um, “more innovative” ways, too.

          One challenge with where we’ve got the baby gate now is that it includes our bathroom. Getting Li’l D to close the bathroom door when he gets up in the middle of the night is proving more time-consuming than expected.

          Apart from TP, Littler likes standing on the bathtub ledge and trying to belly flop into the (empty) tub (noooooooooo) … so, yeah, depending on how Li’l D does with keeping that door closed during the night, we might need to get another baby gate for there.

          We’ll definitely be watchful of signs Littler has begun having a firmer grasp on caution. πŸ™‚

  8. June 20, 2016 at 6:18 am

    How can anyone not appreciate sleep?! Except I also know how tempting the world is after bedtime.. πŸ™‚

    • July 4, 2016 at 6:22 am

      LOL! After the last two years, just about nothing beats sleep in my eyes! πŸ™‚

      He’s getting used to life without rails. Bedtime’s immeasurably easier the last few days, with the only difficulty that he keeps settling himself in his brother’s bed. (Li’l D’s gotten less grumpy about that, though, since he’s seen that the less we focus on that, the more time we get to spend kickin’ it alone with him!)

  9. June 20, 2016 at 8:01 am

    I’m pretty close to this point with my twins. It’s scary

  10. June 20, 2016 at 9:51 am

    This is EXACTLY why Alcatraz was designed for adult vs juvenile offenders.

  11. June 21, 2016 at 6:02 am

    “… his brain overloaded by the Matrix-style revelation the world doesn’t actually stop at his bedtime.”

    Marvelous line. That is exactly how kid minds process the world around them. Great story.

    • July 4, 2016 at 6:24 am

      Thank you!

      I could actually see the new expressions on his face as he tried to wrap his mind around the bigness of the world. (And, really, he’s only just begun to see it–mwa!)

  12. June 21, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Whew, good luck! I so love the haircuts! LM was never a climber, but I imagine BG would be if a) didn’t still want to sleep in her sleep sack and b) had some length to those legs πŸ˜€

    • July 4, 2016 at 6:27 am

      Leg length is one of the things that bought us so (comparatively) much time with J in the crib! Li’l D had the leg length at sixteen months, which is exactly when he started climbing out. I’m soooo glad J took so much longer. If he’d been doing it at sixteen months, it would have been a much bigger struggle. Now at least he has some openness to the good of sleep, whereas at sixteen months … it might as well have been a toothsome monster, for how much he welcomed it.

  13. August 29, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    My son is 8 and I’m still struggling with bedtime. Afraid to sleep by himself and mommy is the bed time teddy. Hope your luck is still running and never runs out.

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