Due to Hurricane Sandy taking out our power and water, tonight is our second night staying at our friends' apartment on the Upper West Side.
As a houseguest in my pre-child days, I was always concerned that I wasn't doing enough around the house, that I brought a decent enough gift and that my tendency to over-do it on toilet paper usage was going unnoticed. After I got married, I often worried that my husband was making a large enough effort to be social, regardless of whether our hosts were "his" or "my" friends.
Now, I have no worries about my husband and me. Our likelihood of quickly outstaying our welcome rests solely on our two-year-old daughter.
Thankfully, our current hosts have a three-year-old son, Charlie, so they are well aware of the trials and tribulations that come along with having a small child. However, their small child, while he might have his own set of daytime issues, gets an A++ in "GOING TO BED". Mazzy, as I have detailed in the past, has failed BEDTIME repeatedly.
The plan was for the two of them to sleep in Charlie's room and generally follow Charlie's bedtime routine— his house, his rules. Mazzy is the guest, after all.
At 7:30pm, Charlie gets a half hour to wind down in his parents' bed while watching television, before brushing his teeth, and hitting the bathroom (Superboy is also fully potty trained). Then his parents indulge him in ONE bedtime book before they shut off the light and shut the door.
In comparison, Mazzy gets three bedtime books while sitting in the rocker, one bedtime book while lying in bed, a pile of books placed at her side to read in the dark, and the door left open with the hall light on. (I would also detail my numerous "check-ins" but it starts to get embarrassing.)
The first night I played along like Charlie's routine would work out just fine. We put the kids in the master bedroom to watch Toy Story 2 while the grown-ups convened in the dining area for a civilized dinner. Approximately fifteen minutes lates, Mazzy was running through the kitchen screaming with Charlie following right behind her. Back and forth, again and again, they went.
For Charlie, this extra activity just upped his exhaustion and added to the ease with which his parents would eventually put him to bed.
For Mazzy, this extra activity riled her up into a state where sleep became near impossible.
At 8pm, Charlie began the process of changing into his PJs, brushing his teeth and getting under the covers.
At 8pm, Mazzy started crying that she didn't want to go sleep, refused to brush her teeth and threw her PJs across the room.
After much consoling, Mazzy agreed to listen to a bedtime story read by Charlie's dad. I tucked her in (like a sausage instead of a burrito, just like Charlie), left the room and crossed my fingers. As I walked back into the living room, I avoided Mike's eyes, sure he was silently laughing at my optimism.
Then Charlie's dad appeared after finishing the story, turning out the light and shutting the door, foolishly thinking all parental duties would cease to exist for the rest of the evening.
I made a silent prayer to the Toddler Gods.
Well, this might come as a big surprise but let me be the first to tell you— TODDLER GODS DO NOT EXIST!
How do I know this?
Because two seconds later, Mazzy was screaming for water, more books, and the lights on.
I ran in and dutifiully brought her everything she demanded. It is one thing to ignore your child in the privacy of your own home, but when your host's child's sleep is threatened, you must do everything imaginable to nip the problem in the bud.
I returned to the living room and took a seat. Then I prayed to the Bedtime Gods.
What do you know— BEDTIME GODS DO NOT EXIST EITHER.
Completely unaware that she was jeaopardizing her access to electricity, running water and cable access, Mazzy tiptoed into the living room and said the three words every parent wishes they could erase from the English language— "I'M NOT TIRED."
I tried to convince Mazzy that sleeping in Charlie's room was like having a sleep over party. I told her that the sooner she went to bed, the sooner she would be able to get up and play with Charlie in the morning. I tried to make compromises with half open doors and cups of warm milk and additional bedtime stories.
All the while, disturbing poor Charlie's sleep.
In the end, what Mazzy really wanted was to go home. She said it repeatedly which became more and more heartbreaking. Reluctantly, I asked if she would rather sleep with me instead of Charlie and she said yes.
So, I took her into the guest room and lay down with her on the pull-out sofa. She told me again that she wanted to go home.
I reminded her that home doesn't have electricity or water and went through a list of everything that was not working at home but was working perfectly well at Charlie's house.
"Tell me again what's not working".
"The refrigerator, the microwave, the television, the shower, the heater, the iPad, the phone, the computer, the dishwasher…"
"Yep, the lights aren't working."
"Tell me again."
"The refrigerator, the microwave, the television…"
And on and on until Mazzy finally fell asleep.
Thankfully, I was able to sneak out of bed without waking her, and rejoin the adults in the living room. But when it was finally time for us all to go to bed, we realized the pull-out couch was really only big enough for Mazzy and one other person.
So Charlie got to have a new sleepover buddy…
In case you can't tell, that's Mike in Charlie's room, giving me the finger. (I think he might still be pissed at the underwear shot from last week.)
Let's hope Charlie was sleeping and isn't going to start experimenting with his newly learned hand gesture tomorrow.
Then the Wiles family will, for sure, be looking for a new place to sleep.