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A Chicago toddler finds new way to stall bedtime

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood  of Chicago with Professor Foster (his “Brown Mom” wife), and their daughter Viva, who is hard at work researching new things of which to be terrified.

There are many things to be afraid of in this world: War, famine, pestilence, death … any horsemen of the apocalypse definitely fit the bill. And of course there are ordinary but no less potent fears that parents face every day: unemployment, baldness, structural wood rot, tuition increases. Then there are the things my 3-year-old is afraid of.

Three-year-olds don’t have a lot of skills, you see; dressing themselves is usually a disaster, eating unassisted requires a cleanup crew, and using the potty typically ends in a biohazard tsunami, but they are very, very good at postponing bedtime. They raise it to an art form.

And that’s when the “fears” come in. What parent can resist a crying toddler/preschooler begging to be delivered from something that frightens them? We’ve all been afraid of the occasional childhood bogey – a ventriloquist dummy here, a Raggedy Ann there, or an errant long-armed clown under the bed possessed by a wrathful poltergeist. You know, kid stuff. So when our babies cry that something is scary, we grab our proton packs and we head into the bedroom to remove the offending entities. Kids are little, darkness is unsettling, and as parents, we ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts.

But it isn’t long before your child turns your protective nature into a weakness to be exploited. They say something is scary into the baby monitor and we’re bursting through the door looking for the little girl from “The Ring” faster than you can say, “Seven Daysssss.” Your kid gets a cuddle, maybe the lights come on, and bedtime is postponed another 20 minutes. Get “scared” of enough things and they might be able to watch the sun come up over Lake Michigan while you lie on the floor in an exhausted heap.

Here is a partial list of “scary” items we’ve been told by our daughter must be removed from her bedroom before she can sleep (this week). Do not read this list if you are pregnant or prone to heart conditions – it is just too alarming:

  • Diaper bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Framed Scrabble tiles of her name
  • Pink tiara (large)
  • Silver tiara (medium)
  • Gold tiara (doll sized)
  • Cinderella blanket
  • Care Bear blanket
  • Blue blanket
  • Red blanket
  • All blankets
  • Socks
  • Minnie Mouse flashlight (put in the room to keep her from being scared)
  • Stuffy the Dragon Cookie Cutter
  • All books with a tiny dog on the spine
  • All books with a hippo on the cover
  • All books with a hippo on the spine
  • All books with a tiny dog on the cover
  • Stuffed tiny dog
  • Bee backpack
  • Wicker basket full of barrettes
  • Hello Kitty Band-Aids
  • Cardigan sweater
  • Left shoe (right shoe OK)
  • My Little Pony comic book
  • Butterfly pillow
  • Right shoe (no longer OK)
  • Mickey
  • Minnie
  • Squeaker
  • Gymbo
  • Neosporin

By midnight, there is generally more stuff in the hallway than in the nursery. Scary isn’t Neosporin on your former changing table, it’s getting up for coffee in the morning and tripping over three night lights and a Muppet you didn’t know were strewn underfoot.

I used to be afraid I’d turn on the baby monitor and see a haunted Victorian Nanny making a shushing motion at me from the beyond. Now I’m just afraid I’ll never sleep again because some little person needs the “scary” clock removed from her wall.

You can CALL the White Dads now on their hotline:  (347) 766-3866. Leave a message or a question they can play on the podcast! If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe to the WDP podcast for free on iTunes!

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