STELLA JOAN. What are you doing in your brother’s crib? Get back in your bed RIGHT.NOW.
It is 8:30pm, and I am 20 minutes into my workout in the downstairs living room. I am solo parenting because my husband is out of town on vacation, and I had stopped & muted the TV because I thought I had heard something. Sure enough there are giggles coming from the kids’ shared bedroom upstairs. Harvey was sleeping at 7pm, and I had thought Stella was sleeping at 8pm, but obviously I was wrong. I swoop into the room, hiss the above statement at my 3 year old, then swiftly & silently plop her into her own bed and hurry out, all the while hoping that my 1 year old won’t notice me and have a breakdown. No such luck.
[both kids are wailing now, so a minute later, I head back in, very annoyed at this point]
Me: Stella Joan – I am NOT happy with you. You lay down in your bed RIGHT.NOW. and quit crying. You have nothing to cry about. YOU are the one who woke your brother up! Harvey, it’s ohhhh-kay. You’re ohhhh-kay. [I pick him up and go to sit in the rocking chair to nurse him and calm him down. Meanwhile Stella is still crying & hiccuping from her bed three feet away.] Stella, WHY were you in your brother’s bed? You know better than to crawl into his crib at night!
Stella: I was just…[sob & hiccup] trying… [sob & hiccup] to make sure… [sob & hiccup] that he was okaaaaaaaaaay!
[Silence from me for a split second while I process that SHIT, Harvey was crying, I hadn’t heard him, and I had just yelled at Stella for trying to be a loving and helpful big sister. Usually she’s just being a little turd and waking him up to play when they should be sleeping!]
Me: Okay, Stella. That was nice of you to be worried about him and try to make him happy, but you cannot climb into his crib during the night, okay?
[instantly the tears stop from Stella because she realizes she has won this time around]
Stella: Okay, Mama! I’ll stay in my bed! Did you find Elsa? (one of her two nearly identical dolls – she always knows which one is Elsa and which one is Anna – I can never tell them apart)
Me: *sigh* No, I didn’t find her, but I’ll go look for her again.
[I lay Harvey back into his crib, and he immediately rolls onto his side and curls up with his blanket. I walk over to Stella’s bed to give her a kiss & tuck her in for the 3rd time tonight.]
Me: I love you, Stella. Thanks for taking such good care of your brother. Sweet dreams.
Stella: I love you, too. Sweet dreams, Mama.
There are definitely days (and nights) during which Charlie and I contemplate moving into the guest room downstairs so that the kids could have their own rooms, but I’ve got to say that the majority of the time, we love that they are sharing a room and learning to live with each other’s quirks and noises. I have such fond memories of late night conversations with my siblings when we were growing up – I hope the same for them someday!