When my son was a baby, he'd wake up and cry in his crib, and I'd always go in. 3 or 4 times a night, until he was 11 months old. I had to go in. His wails were like something out of "The Exorcist." I was sure the walls were bleeding and the floor boards were popping up. Clearly there was something really wrong this time.
Needless to say, there wasn't. (You know this story as well as I do.)
Eventually we hired a specialist who talked us through letting him cry it out. I protested, but when we talked through what happened each night, she asked me some very pointed questions:
"How badly does he scream?
"So badly I'm sure he's dying!!"
"How long does he scream?"
"Until I come in."
"And if you don't go in?"
"He screams louder!!!"
"Until I go in..."
The first night my (now ex-) husband and I moved into the living room, turned on the (loud) air-conditioner, closed all the doors, and turned off the baby monitor. I buried my head under pillows and sobbed as my son screamed bloody murder. Until he finally gave up and fell back asleep.
The next night we prepared for it again.
Except it didn't happen.
It never happened again.
My son is now 10, and he's working me in the exact same way.
We've been having a rough time lately with him arguing and not cooperating. And I've been a pushover, saying I'd take away privileges, and then not following through—because I can't take the fucking drama.
And what do I get?
Most days my response is, "You'd never behave this way at your dad's house," or "Do I need to call daddy?" because I am literally at the bottom of my toolbox.
But I'm tired of that. I'm tired of using my son's father as a threat or a weapon; moreover, I'm tired of the consequences of me not being responsible for what goes down under my own roof.
So, I pulled the plug on the Xbox "until further notice."
And suddenly? He's been lovely. Cooperative, excited about participating, even happy, understanding that his actions have consequences, and that, just as his bad behavior had his Xbox go away, with good behavior, he might just get it back.
And then just as suddenly, he starts wailing, "Mommy I need it!!!! Mommy, help me!! Mommy I need my Xbox! MOMMY YOU'RE RUINING MY LIFE!!!!!!!"
And so, I've started pulling out my old sleep-training tools, putting my ears on "ignore," not getting sucked into the drama, staying completely calm, and moving us both on.
And you know what?
It's fucking working.
The tantrums are getting fewer, he's becoming more cooperative, and (gasp) we're enjoying each other's company!!!
Some parenting lessons we learned in the first year. Who knew?
Lather, rinse, repeat.