What am I doing wrong? Two out the last three naps have resulted in mass hysteria upon wake-up.
The Who has never been a pleasant riser. I hear stories about babies who happily greet the day, laughing and talking to themselves in the crib. Babbling joyfully. (I was one such baby, I am told.) The Who greets the day with a scowl and a whimper that swiftly becomes a whine and eventually an all-out cry if I don’t get to him fast enough. This is pretty much the story every morning, but nap times are more of a crap-shoot. I have a thousand guesses about the reason, the most plausible to me is that he wakes up hungry. But who really knows? For as articulate as he is, there are still some really key questions that he can’t answer. One of them is “Why are you crying?” The answer is, invariably, “yeah.” And although I think he does understand hunger (he will regularly say, “[Who] want something to eat,” and then gladly chow down) I don’t think he gets the kind of hunger that comes after hours of sleep and results in a really pissy mood.
Maybe, also, he just hates the feeling of being groggy and confused, which is how I feel after napping or sleeping especially hard. I hate waking up in a dark room in the middle of a day. Maybe he hates being confined in a crib when he wakes up. Maybe his hand fell asleep. There are a hundred reasons why he might wake up cranky and usually we can work with it, but sometimes, his wake-up is just ridiculous.
His whine escalates within seconds to the kind of crying that leaves him hiccuping and cough-heaving, threatening a much bigger mess than just a teary, snotty face. And there’s really no calming him for a long time. He doesn’t know what he wants and so is in a constant state of dissatisfaction. “Do you want to get out of the crib?” “No. No get out of cribby.” And then, a beat later: “The Who wanna get out of criiiiibbbby!” [wail, wail, wail, sob.] It’s useless to remind him that he just told me he didn’t want to get out of the crib. And it goes on like this. The Who want that book. The Who don’t want booooook! Cry, cry. The Who wanna go downstairs. Me: Ok, let’s get out of the crib and go downstairs. “No! The Who don’t wanna go downstaiiiiirs!”
You catch my drift.
Today, he was pissed because he asked to turn off the noise machine, then told me he didn’t want to turn it off and that I should do it, so I did. Then he wanted to do it, but it was done. And I kept a firm boundary. “You told me you didn’t want to turn it off, so I did it. You can do it next time.” You can imagine how that went over.
It’s now an hour after waking up from [a good, solid, 2-hour] nap and he is finally content, having had a sandwich and some milk. An episode of Barney is holding his attention as I write.
My wife reports that this never happens with her and that she regularly witnesses power struggles between The Who and me. There are bound to be power struggles with a 2-year-old, since he wants to do everything his way and that’s just not always possible (or safe or preferable.) But what can I do to reduce the drama at wake-up? Do I just snatch him out of the crib and bring him downstairs, despite his protests and stop all the negotiations about what he wants and doesn’t want? That seems awfully dismissive. Do I continue to refuse to recognize and respond to his whiny, crying voice? That seems like a good boundary to set, but it seems to be very hard for him to hold it together. Do I try to go into his room and open the curtains as soon as I hear the first hint of a peep coming from him to try to get in before he has time to really erupt? Some combination of these things?
He really is a pleasant child most of the time…