"Victory is Mine!"
If you watch "Family Guy," you recognize that title as Stewie's mantra as he gets the last laugh over his mom Lois. Since J.J. starting babbling, we've joked that he's just like Stewie, always strategizing, calculating, and chuckling to himself about the chaos he can cause on a whim. Or better yet, we liken him to the velociraptors in "Jurassic Park" that jump at the electrical fences, each time in a different spot, to test for weaknesses.
That's J.J. -- smart as a whip, ultra-observant, never missing an opportunity to explore newfound territory, like a drawer missing a safety latch, a glass of soda left dangerously close to the edge of a table, or the boundaries of my sanity. As a mom, I have to try to stay one step ahead of him all the time, always being "on," never letting him discover my weaknesses, while walking the fine line of allowing him to explore, learn, and develop. And I wouldn't have it any other way. He's really perfect to me in every way imaginable. Well, there is that one thing...
It's the battle I've lost every night for nearly two years. J.J. learned early on of my weakness for his puppy-dog eyes, pout lip, and the pathetic way he'd stand next to my bed with his little head resting near my pillow as he'd wait for me to pick him up and let him sleep between my husband and I. Night after night, I'd put off the impending showdown, reasoning that I really liked when he snuggled up against me most nights, and eventually he'd understand the need for his own (and our) personal space and stay in his "big boy" bed. In reality though, I've had countless kicks to the kidneys, gotten punched in the eye and nose, haven't enjoyed more than a two-hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep, not to mention its effect in the romantic department. I have spent many a sleepless night agonizing over my -- ahem -- sleepless nights, while watching "Family Guy" reruns. Ooh, that Stewie...
Labor Day weekend 2006: The time had finally come when J.J. would have no choice but to sleep in his own room. At least that was our long-weekend plan, one we'd tried before. This time, we put up a safety gate so J.J. couldn't come pitter-pattering into our room at night, explained to him the deal (adding a few measures of bribery including a trip to Toys R Us the next morning if he complied), and braced ourselves -- we knew what was coming.
Screaming. Wailing. Pleading. Pwitty Pwease-ing. Nearly two hours of J.J. preying on my weakness of not being able to ignore his cries. But this time, I had a new secret weapon. The advice of dear friends who assured me that no matter how painful it is to hear your child cry, it would be worth it to him in the end since he'd ultimately sleep better. Oh, and the haunting thought of another friend's daughter who still sleeps with them at age 4. Imagine doing this for another two years?!
Finally the cries turned to whimpers. Then silence. Then snores. Then came morning when we all realized we had made it through the toughest night. I think I hugged and kissed J.J. for about 15 minutes straight. J.J. couldn't wait to tell his Grandma and Nonna what a big boy he was. We had our trip to Toys R Us as promised, followed by night two. Just 10 minutes of crying this time. Then sleepy smiles and cuddling with Curious George. Night three. Not a sound. Just the low hum of our TV. Stewie was on again declaring, "Victory is Mine!"... only no one was awake to hear it.