The other night, The Man was working late, and I handled Small One's bedtime routine on my own. This is different, because he is typically the one who handles bath, tooth brushing, and bedtime story telling. My role in bedtime is to a)give kisses and b)be the one who insists she actually sleeps. She hangs out in her crib for a while, singing songs and talking to her stuffed animals, but she's definitely asleep within thirty to forty minutes, and all that really matters to me is that she's "put away" for the night. I love my children, but seriously, sometimes I need to put them away. But...I digress.
Anyway, it went quite well, she was in bed five minutes before her bedtime, but then The Man came home twenty-five minutes later and she was instantly standing up, calling him from the crib. (It doesn't help matters that the dog loses his mind when The Man comes home, whining and shaking all over with the sheer thrill of it.)
She called for her Daddy, and her Daddy obliged her, picking her up from her crib to hug her. I came to the door to be the voice of reason.
"Pardon me," I said, "But you're throwing off the Emperor's groove. Seriously, put her down, she's supposed to be sleeping."
He did, and she got very dramatic about it, throwing an elaborate fit for his benefit. He threatened to shut the door, which is our most effective bedtime threat, and she did not waiver in her drama, so he shut the door. The drama escalated, and he opened the door and told her he'd leave it open if she'd only stop. She stopped.
He came back to our room, and I said "You know, this drama thing doesn't happen when you're not here."
Later that night, she woke up with a nightmare. I went in and comforted her, and she was ok, but then decided she needed to get out of her bed. She began yelling. Not crying, just yelling.
I walked back in and said, very matter of factly, "Here's the deal, kid: you either knock that off and lie your head down and go to sleep, OR I shut the door and walk away. Which choice are you going to make?"
Now, I will skip to the end of the story and tell you that she picked "lie down and go to sleep", but it must be mentioned that she had a very important question to ask before she could make that decision.
She stood in her crib looking at me for a minute, pondering her options. "Um... " she said, "...where's my Daddy?"
(Translation: "I'd like to speak with someone in management, please.")