The subtle art of manipul-- nuturing

Fury and Lessi have never had a problem sleeping on their own. There's nothing that contributes to one's sanity more than knowing that at a set time each night, you can heave a sigh of relief and wash dishes, pay bills, wash the dog, or stare at a wall uninterrupted. It's the parental equivalent of a rest between sets. As they tell you in parenting books, or as you figure it out on your own because duh, a set routine makes all the difference in the world. When I put Lessi to bed, I read her a story, then I place her baby on one side of her, her blue teddy bear on the other, and then I wrap them all up in a blanket and tuck one side into the mattress. As I leave, I place one hand on the sleepy bundle and give her a kiss on the cheek while whispering "Goodnight, Lessi. Love you. Go to sleep now." After that, I turn out her light, as well as the hallway lights around her room. 

On New Year's Eve, I spent an exciting night with the kids at home. We ate pizza. There might have been some Netflix and Minecraft going on too. Whatever it was, Lessi did not want to take a bath and miss all this. I think she had a feeling Fury and I were staying up for this and she knows bath time equals impending bedtime. So when it was time for a bath, she protested. "I don't want it," she said. "I'll take a bath later," she assured. But every time she offered a point, I would fire back a counterpoint (yes, I use logic on a two-year old — one day she will appreciate it!). But then she saw me break. Perhaps it was a yawn, or maybe I rubbed my eyes. 

"Dada," she said, motioning me to the couch, "you lie down." She punctuated that by patting the couch.

Blame it on cute overload, I walked over and lay down. 

"You need blankie?" It wasn't so much a question as it was a statement of fact, because she was tucking the throw blanket, on one side, under the couch pillows before I could answer. 

"Lessi, it's still time for a ba--"

"Shhh… it's time to sleep, dada. Close your eyes." And just in case I wasn't planning to comply, two little fingers quickly pressed my eyelids down.

Then she kissed me on the cheek and said "goodnight, dada. I love you. You sleep now." Impressed at her evasion techniques, I lay there a while. Then I noticed lights going off. Lessi came back after each one, kissed me and reassured me in a nurturing whisper "I turn the lights off, dada. Go to sleep now, dada."

At this point, I only protested so that she would come back, pat me on the chest, kiss my cheek and whisper "go to sleep now, dada." To seal the deal, she even brought me a stuffed animal. "Here's your bunny, dada. Shh. You close your eyes now." Fingers, eyelids.

I tried to get this all on video, but she learned the art of the blanket tuck too well, and my arms were immobilized. I eventually broke through it and propped myself up on an elbow. "Ok, nap time over, Lessi, it's time for--"

"Lie down, dada." Her little hand grabbed a tuft of hair, and pulled my head back down on the couch. Kiss on the cheek. "Go to sleep now." 

"Ok, maybe since it's New Year's Eve, " I thought. I think it's like bad luck to shower on New Years Eve anyway, according to Chinese tradition. The benefit of being descended from a 5,000-year-old culture is that you can find a tradition-based justification for anything. 2012 came to an end, and we all greeted the new year, unbathed and full of good fortune. 

* * * * 

Last Sunday, I made lunch for the kids. I had just set out Lessi's tortilla pizza and satsuma tangerine pieces on a plate when she decided she wanted to watch The Wiggles. 

"Eat lunch later, dada."

"No, Lessi, it's lunchtime now. Come here." 

Lessi walked towards the table, but made a sharp left to the couch instead.

"Dada, you lie down…"