Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lessons of the Night

Bryn is prone to the dramatic. I'm not sure that phrase quite captures the extent of it, but the girl can work up some serious tears at will and just wail at the smallest, and sometimes, strangest things.

This characteristic shows up other times, but it is most striking at bedtime. Last weekend, for instance, she had the kind of meltdown that made me just look at her in amazement because a) I couldn't understand her words very well to decipher what she was sad about, b) the offense changed periodically during her attempts to explain what went wrong, c) there was absolutely no obvious trigger to the meltdown, and d) there was apparently nothing I could do to head it off. All I could muster was, "Wow, Bryn. I don't know what's going on here." The reason ranged from where I put the second bedtime book (which she only noticed after the first one was finished..."But I wanted to HOLD i-i-i-i-t!") to the fact that she wanted to turn the pages ("No, Mommy! Don't finish/start reading until I get my finger on the corner!") to her grave concern that she didn't know how to fall asleep. That was my favorite--and it was accompanied with a confession.

Bryn: "But I don't know HOW to fall asleep!"
Mom: "Honey, your body is very tired. I'm sure that if you lie very still and close your eyes, that your body will know how to fall asleep."
Bryn: "No, it won't. Because I always play too much. I make bad choices and pl-ay-ay-ay-ay."

In an effort to hammer home the point that she's in charge of her behavior, we've really talked to her a lot about choices that she makes. One of the most devastating realizations for her (again with a touch of drama) is to note that she's made a bad choice.

Well, the bad choice of playing when she was supposed to be sleeping came back to bite her tonight.

Because of daylight savings, bedtime may as well be at high noon because her room is still bright when we turn off the lights that we didn't need to read books. She laid in her bed (as far as I know) for about 30 minutes before I heard her call that she needed to use the restroom. By all means...

Here's where "bad choices" and parental assumptions collide in a serious way. I assumed that after I heard the toilet flush that she'd be heading back to bed. Alas...I had forgotten rule number one of Bryn's routine..."playing too much." After about 15 minutes, I hear Bryn calling me saying that her eyes hurt.

Eyes and feet--we take care of eyes and feet--oh, and teeth--in our family, so I ran up the stairs to see what went wrong. Her room smelled very strongly--a familiar and pleasant, but strong scent--but I couldn't identify the source when my baby's eyes were hurting without cause (she thought naively). She was rubbing her eyes, and when I felt her hands they were unbelievably greasy. "Bryn! What is on your hands?!" I ask. She didn't know or at least couldn't tell me through the tears.

I ran to the bathroom to get a rag to clean her hands and face, trying to get the whatever out of her eyes. At this point, Beau came up to help, so we got Bryn to SHOW us what is on her hands. And, who would have thought...

She had smeared ALL of an English Lavender jar candle all over her face and upper body. And it was an awesome candle, too....the kind with lots of essential oils to make it smell awesome (ah, yes, I remember that smell now!).

Bryn was profuse with her apologies. Poor thing, her eyes are burning and yet all she could muster was "sorry, Mommy. I made bad choices and played."

We were way more worried than angry. While Beau gave her a(nother) shower, he quizzed her about the lessons that she learned tonight. Here's her summary.

1) Don't put anything in my eyes.
2) Don't play with anything unless I ask Mom or Dad.
3) Go to sleep when it's bedtime.

We'll be quizzing her from now on.

PS: Her room still smells nice. I hope that the trauma hasn't been forever linked with the smell of lavender.

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