Escape Artist, Part 2 | Mark’s Remarks

marksA few years back, I wrote to you about my baby daughter and how she had her daddy wrapped around her finger. I wrote about how she often got me to cave in, sit in the rocker recliner while she tried to go to sleep in her crib. I went on to say how, with every creak or groan of the recliner as I tried to sneak out of the nursery, I’d see her chubby little hand grasp the side of the crib and raise her little head up to see if I was still there. I had to gauge her breathing and time my escape just right, often sneaking out of the room by sliding slowly across the floor on my back, much like a slug. It was a bit humiliating, but worth it.

I still often cave to my daughter’s charms. I am the one who will read just one more book or fall for the “drink of water” routine. I’m the one who will let her fall asleep in mom and dad’s bed instead of put up with the fuss. Yes, with all my preaching about how to raise your kids and how to use tough love, I will stand up and admit I am not always tough with the baby.  I have my moments. But I am pretty much a sap with her when it comes to some things.

Of all of our children, the baby is by far the most dramatic and hardest to get along with. Perhaps we have created a monster. Even with her mother and me, plus two older brothers and an older sister trying to discipline her, she sometimes has the upper hand.

Our biggest victory lately has been the evening routine.  Our deal is that she watches one episode of her favorite show on DVR in our bedroom, then pads into her own bedroom for a story and lights out. Many times, she’s so tired it works quite well.
Still, there are nights when she will scamper into our room in the middle of night, scale the side of our bed like a mountain climber and plunk down happily between Michelle and me.  Her middle-aged parents are too tired to do much but doze back off.

On our more ambitious evenings, we’ve hopped right up and put her back in bed. After a little protest, she usually settles back in. However, some nights, as I said, we just let her camp there for the night. Consistency is not our best friend right now.  We sacrifice all we believe in for a little more rest.

She has her moments in the early morning where she can wake with a start; it is never pretty. If she hears us begin to stir around 6 a.m., she sometimes wakes up herself, declaring she is ready for breakfast with an attitude that is set on full whine mode. It is not a mood we entertain, and we threaten to put her back to bed if the whining doesn’t stop.  Often, we tell her it’s just too early to wake up and the kitchen isn’t ready yet. As with everything, this sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

This morning was one of those mornings.  I woke up at 6 and there she was, semi-asleep and scarcely awake. I quietly crept out of bed. Soon, she appeared at the door of the bathroom, fell dramatically to the floor and asked for breakfast. I could tell she would not be anyone’s friend if she did not get some more rest. Quickly, I made the decision to go back to bed for 10 minutes tops, hoping it would work. “It’s much too early and no one is awake right now.  Let’s just go back to bed for five minutes,” I told her.  For some reason, putting a time on the deal (and she has no concept of time) seems to work lately.

Although she protested, she eventually complied and crawled back up there. I positioned myself in the bed so I could make a hasty getaway. I even had one of my legs off the bed, ready to hit the floor.

Perhaps knowing what I was capable of, she scooted over close to me and wrapped her little arm around my neck.  Most would think of it as a cozy little gesture. “Oh look. She loves her daddy. She wants to cuddle.” Yes, I felt the same way; to an extent. Still, I knew that part of her motive was to keep me in that bed. That chubby little arm was 85 percent death grip. If I was going to go to that kitchen, she was going with me.

There would be no escaping. I would not leave the house before the cereal and toast had been served up with and episode of Daniel Tiger playing as she ate. So, I could do nothing but wait, pray and hope.

Soon, the grip loosened. The breathing became a little louder and I could tell sleep had gotten a hold of her, thankfully, once again. Then I heard her make one of those little cooing noises that kids make when they fall asleep. In a little while, with just a light slight shift, the arm fell away and she rolled over.  I waited a few seconds before slowly making my silent exit.

I made it out the door. Later, through a text message, her mother reports it was another hour before she bounded out of bed. Yes, I was proud of myself and I was glad she got a little more rest. It will set the tone for the entire day. The queen is rested and happy.

And another successful escape is in the books.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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