Monday, April 28, 2008

If I seem a trifle perturbed, that would be correct, Miss Smugger than Most Super Duper Nanny

Dear The Supernanny,

I write to you today, as you have left me with no choice. I feel betrayed, set-up and inept. This is not a good position for me to be finding myself. Especially when it is quite obvious that I have failed Parenting 101: sleep and your 4 year old BOY.

Last week, as I impatiently waited for my husband to get off the computer so I could blog! and had nothing better to do, I happened to tune into your television show. My timing appeared to be perfect as you were administering to a family of 3 girls who were basically running their poor parents into the ground with disruptive bedtime routines, hence causing a sleep deprivation of major proportions. Although I am not an ardent fan of yours, I had watched you a few times before and was impressed by what appeared to be your common sense and wealth of experience. Hurrah!, I exclaimed to myself, this is very similar to our situation with BOY! Perhaps THE NANNY will come up with a viable plan!

You proceeded to demonstrate the Do's and Dont's of parenthood to this couple and in truth, I was on your side. The 3 girls appeared to be running roughshod over their parents and ruling the roost, so to speak. You demonstrated a few techniques, which seemed simple enough.

The first task addressed was to get their daughters to go to sleep on their own with the following steps:

  1. to tuck your child in, kiss them goodnight and walk out of the room

  2. when your child comes back out, walk them back in and say "it's bedtime, goodnight"

  3. when your child comes back out again, walk them back in and just say "goodnight"

  4. when your child comes back out, AGAIN walk them back in, tuck them in, and this time say nothing

  5. when your child comes back out at 36 or so more times, continue with step #4- the idea being that they will eventually "grow tired" and not come out of their room. [You failed to mention the likelihood of the parents "growing tired," especially those parents well over 40.]

The 2nd Task addressed what steps to take when your child awakens in the middle of the night and comes into the parents' bedroom:

  1. walk your child back to their room, tuck them back in and say "goodnight"

  2. walk your child back to their room again and this time say nothing

  3. walk your child back to their room again, and again, and AGAIN -saying nothing...until they "grow tired." [See aforementioned #5 under First Task.]

And so I say to your 2 tasks, with all verisimilitude, BLAST! BUGGER! BLOODY HELL & SOD OFF! THE NANNY has clearly not encountered THE BOY.

If I seem a trifle perturbed, that would be correct, Miss Smugger than Most Super DUPER Nanny. Because, THIS is what transpired at our home last evening:

I had tucked in my daughter and was on the computer. BOY and his father were playing in the living room and preparing to wind BOY down (Surely you jest?!), before tucking him into bed. BOY came into the office to kiss me goodnight and then went into his room accompanied by his father. His father sat with him for several minutes and then followed your technique, albeit haphazardly, since he hadn't informed me that he would be doing so [but, that is between me and himself], for putting BOY to bed. This is how it went down:

Husband tucked BOY in, talked to him for a bit, said "goodnight, see you in the morning, I love you" and walked out.

BOY came out. Husband tucked BOY in, said "goodnight" once again, walked out of BOY's bedroom and walked into the parents bedroom, shut the door, and had mom deal with it.

So, I took it ,resentfully and like an ass bravely on like any good woman would:

BOY came out of his room. I walked him back in, said "goodnight, I love you, see you in the morning" and walked out.

BOY came out, I walked him back.

BOY came out, I walked him back.

Various screams, words of "don't leave me, fear of monsters.

BOY came out, I walked him back. [Am I repeating myself here?]

BOY came out, I walked him back. [This is SO Mommy's Nightmare Groundhog Day!] SILENCE on my part. I was ever the diligent Nannyfied Parental Unit.

Are you my mommy or are you a monster? BOY said in a fearful voice in the dark as I adjusted his covers.

BOY's mom? Are YOU BOY's mom? This from Spotty the stuffed animal dog.

O.K., Nanny, this is where we part ways. I admit it. I succumbed. It's bad enough when your own child is wondering if you really are his mommy or A MONSTER, but when a stuffed animal starts talking to you that is when I abandon THE NANNY WAY HIGHWAY and take it MY WAY. I sat down and talked to BOY, calmed him down and was with him for 10 minutes until he fell asleep. He was fairly disturbed by your technique. This was 9pm.

At 1:15AM there arose a scream. I ran to BOY's room and he was thrashing about in what could only be called The Night Terrors. As I tried to soothe him, he yelled out, "Why won't you stay with me? Why are you leaving me? No one wants to be with me! Stay mommy, stay!" He didn't recognize me, Nanny. My words didn't calm him. And Nanny, it was pretty unbearable let me tell you. He was holding on to fear that we had abandoned him and carrying it with him into his sleep. For lack of better words, IT SUCKED, Nanny. It only took about...45 minutes OR SO to calm him down and get him back to sleep. Obviously, we have chosen THE WRONG time in his development to pursue this line of sleeping alone.

And now I am in SUCH A STATE of depression and parental flagellation that I have resorted to drinking COFFEE, (of all things!), in the afternoon. You see, I am a tea drinker, like the lovely English lass that I thought you were. But, NOT TODAY! Oh, no, no, noooo.... Now I have joined the ranks of every strung out American Momiteer out there and am drinking iced coffee with 1/2 & 1/2 and chocolate syrup...just. to. get. through. without. throwing. myself. in. front. of. a. speeding. train. This may appear to be an S.O.S. It is not. I will be fine. So, will my BOY. I expect we may be in therapy now until his graduation from college, most especially if my mother reads this letter and finds out that her dear grandson, BOY, does not go to sleep on his own anymore nor does he sleep through the night. Sorry, Mom. Mom? Mom? Oh, GOD, now she's gone racing for the train tracks!! I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY, MISS. NANNY SMARTYASSPANTS, YOU HAVE NOW FUCKED UP 3 GENERATIONS! The therapy of untold horrors.

Perhaps I digressed. Let us not forget the main reason I am writing to you and that is to let you know that I will not be watching your "show" again anytime soon. No, I've picked up enough of your "tips" and have decided to just bite the bullet and go without your advice. I will be tuning out. Go forth, you, you Nanny. Go forth and take on some other suckers. Because we all know that you are on television and that television is not reality. At least not mine.


The Very Messed Up Mom whose WILD imagination has by this time seen into the future and sees her son in this photograph. And... someone who is the mother of a BOY who continues with sleep issues, although not yet experimenting with make-up, and a GIRL who is watching the whole thing and taking friggin' notes, because she can and she sleeps in the same room...

P.S. My Minivan could TAKE YOU ON in your fancy schmancy London Executive Sedan ANY DAY OF THE WEEK!!! By, FRIGGIN' GOD!

***Photos courtesy of Google Images

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  1. Darn - I was going to suggest that you have your kids share a room so that he would be less scared. But you do that already.

    How about if you bribe him? If he manages to stay in the room and not keep calling you back (and leave his door open with the hallway light on of course), he and Sister get a special treat the next day. Make sure Sister knows about the treat, so that she has a vested interest in encouraging him to stay in bed.

    Good luck!

  2. Up to the point where Spotty started talking to you, I was thinking I'd advise you, "The hook-and-eye latches we installed on the outside of our kids' bedroom doors when they were 3 worked pretty well."

    Never mind. I'm off to make some coffee.

  3. I've never beem impressed with super nanny or other similar shows. they're fine for others who have abdicated their parental rights. I say, go with your gut. Do what is right for YOU, BOY, GIRL, and E. It may not be "right" according to someone else's standards, but it's right for you.

  4. I'd go with suburban correspondent's idea. I've done that and it works every time. Children generally feel secure if they share a room and giving your daughter an impt role in all this will make her feel good. Children are very good at building themselves up into a state re fears in the dark/fears of being alone but all too often little bribes can break the habit. And then everyone wins.

    But yeah, you have to go with what works for you. Good luck.

  5. My money is on you. Take her down. My boys have been sleeping together in the same bed for a long time which seems to help, but I think they all go through serious fear stage around ages 4-5. I am dealing with Reid(4) who will get scared when Ryan(7) closes his eyes. So he WAKES HIM UP to comfort himself. Ya, that is what I am going for...

  6. My daughters needed us to sit with them for a LONG time, but as I keep reminding my DH...VERY FEW children still need their hands held to fall asleep by the time they are in High School...This Too Shall Pass. Go with your gut. I'm betting on ya! (And praying for you too). EJT

  7. But what do you really think about the Nanny? It sounds like your technique is infinitely superior.

  8. JCK, SuperNanny is not for us attentive, engaged parents. She's for the alien parents who somehow got transported into the household without a clue.

    The last time I watched her, I thought she was way too harsh on the father, who had some issues that weren't disclosed on the show. Which made it easy for me to remember that it's a production.

  9. Sounds like we are living parallel lives.

    "Der's a monster our der, mommy" is heard on a nightly basis.

    The Super Nanny's advice sounds a lot like the techinique we followed for time out's "1, 2, 3 Magic" which totally worked for us. The author of the book suggests something similar for sleep, which kind of works for us, although Dylan isn't having any abandonment issues YET, as he's only 3 and hasn't figured that out.

    Do what works for you and BOY and remember that eventually it WILL get better. Eventually.

    And if he ever tries to look like that kid in the photo, slap him upside the head, tie him up, cut his hair and wash his face. Amen.

  10. oh, i'll take that hooka on a ride. sheesh. super nanny.

  11. I read an interesting idea... but he has to be old enough to care...

    Place a pile of 5 pennies by the door. Everytime the child comes out at night, take away a penny. The child can keep the pile that is left in the morning for his piggy bank, to save up for something!

    I would think that fear of the dark is a separate issue from just the coming out of the room issue. I think there would be different advice for that.

  12. Definitely great parenting tips over are a star!

  13. Haven't seen the bi . . er, female personage in question. My in-laws saw a couple of episodes and were rather unimpressed.
    Our sleep issues are not the bedtime routine, but the fact that neither of them can sleep through the night. They just don't need that much sleep. And the amount of activity and/or naps or lack thereof during the day don't seem to make a difference. "Bugger off" may be my favorite expression.

  14. I have watched that show a few times and was rather put off by the "one size fits all" solutions.

    Just a question: Do you believe it is necessary for a child to sleep alone?

    It seems to me that children are trying to tell us something when they don't want to be in a room by themselves.

    Not being a parent, I make no judgments. It's just something that occurs to me. :)

  15. I don't know HOW many times I have to say this...

    tranq dart.

  16. What?! A nanny whose ideas don't work 100% of the time?! I am shocked, shocked I tell you! (I am the REAL Super Nanny)

  17. P.S. Did you know that sometimes your Labels make me laugh harder than the post themselves? Love the big words you used, too. (I work with children - they're big words, okay)

  18. I'm impresssed, I would've had him in bed with us by the third try/cry.

    I totally agree with everyone who said that Super Nanny is for those parents TOTALLY devoid of any parental instinct whatsoever.

  19. Thanks JCK,
    Here is one truely grateful blogger. I understand now the addictive nature of comments...
    BTW, Scooter needed to pinch arms or hold hands, Tilly twiddles ears (not always her own), Snorkie used to have his hand down my shirt to fall asleep (even if he was nursing) he pinches my elbow...which IS a Little less embarassing in Church. Pax!

  20. I think my two would have won any non-sleeping contest hands down....I was a ragged shadow of my former self....I was DESPERATE!
    A nurse friend of ours described the technique now suggested by Super Nanny (this was long before Ms Frost) - After a few nights of trying it, and just feeling more miraculously began to work...and now we actually have 'grown ups time' in the evening - have another go - I reckon it's a couple of weeks work....but worth it!
    xxxxx ooh take a measure of gin to take the edge off the pain! xxx

  21. The thing with BOY sounds like what Penelope Whatshername used to call night terrors, and my son experienced that a couple of times - it was within the same month or two when he was about 3. It was really scarey for me as a parent, because he seemed to be awake and yet he was not awake. But I just sat with him and held him and eventually he drifted into another state of sleep and then really slept.

    Gosh. Kids. He's now 20.

  22. Night terrors are so frightening and frustrating at the same time. My Boy-Child#2 went through those when he was about 2-3 years old. It's like they're awake because all indications are that they are (standing up, eyes open, talking, screaming), but they're still asleep. Scary.

    Every once in a while I'll watch Super Nanny just to remind myself that my kids are pretty darn good.

  23. My son had night terrors, too, for a year or two. Which is a separate issue from the bedtime ritual.

    I've only watched Supernanny a few times, but that technique just looked exhausting. I think the kids eventually just fall asleep out of exhaustion, not because they were learning from that technique.

    Hang in there. I know you'll do what feels right. You know, drinking at bedtime.

  24. I just read your above post and so I know this kinda resolved itself but I just have to say that I always wonder why things seem to work soooo well on Supernanny as oppossed to when I do the EXACT same thing at my house.

    And then I remember OH YEAH - IT'S TELEVISION, NOT REAL LIFE!

  25. My son didn't have sleep issues, but at age 2-3 he had terrors. They truly are disturbing, as nothing seemed to calm him or get him out of the dream. But, they did pass, thankfully. He had maybe 4 episodes in a year's time.

    My kids and I are big fans of Nanny Jo. Her secret? She is a cog-behavioral psychologist in disguise. Her techniques are good ones. But they certainly aren't easy (hellish), esp when sprung on you (husband to the naughty chair!).

    I read a LOT of sleep books when I had infant twins plus a 3 yr old. The thing that stuck with me most - babies and toddlers require many hours of sleep (12-15 hrs per 24hr day) for optimal emotional fitness. So quality sleep is a priority for mommy's AND child's wellbeing.

    Don't give up, JCK!

  26. hmmm... so you are saying you might take issue with Supernannys advice? I'm not real clear about that...

    (no advise...)

    xo ~K

  27. This was sooooooo terrifically hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!

    I know, I know, you weren't laughing at the moment, but you are a saint.....

    I hope Boy keeps sleeping through the night.

  28. I totally sympathize, as I'm positive my Little Dude's night terrors are from our attempts to let him cry it out. Not to mention his fear of port-a-cribs. But that is another story for another day.

    You have a lovely blog, m'dear... (Saying this with a fabulous British accent, which I've worked to perfect by watching BBC...)


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