Last week Dylan caught one of those daycare colds that makes the rounds like a scene from Outbreak, where one child coughs and their nearest playmate instantly starts rubbing their eyes and after .07 seconds have elapsed the kid across the room has green slime jetting from both nostrils.


He was mostly okay during the day, but for two nights his lying-down cough seemed to worsen into croupy territory and as a result no one got any sleep. Most of you are probably all too familiar with the wee-hour croup routine, which involves steamy baths and lots of hours logged sitting bolt upright in the rocking chair, hoping against hope that the next gap between chest-racking coughs will be long enough for both of you to pass out for an entire restful minute or so.

He’s fine now, but all that nighttime intervention seems to have set us into one butt-fucker of a sleep regression, for I have no other explanation as to why he is continuing to wake throughout the night. I mentioned a while ago that Dylan predictably wakes up once, and as it turns out once is exactly my limit. Anything more than that and I’m plunged into a spiraling well of frustration and self-pity, and as JB can attest, when my bedmate snores peacefully through Cryfest #4, 3:27 AM Edition, I don’t just get kicky, I start aiming for the balls.

(“ZzzzzOw. What the hell?”


I hope to hell Dylan gets back to his usual routine on his own, because I have completely given up on the idea of sleep training. It didn’t really work when he was younger, and I highly doubt it will work now that he’s in possession of a steel will that cannot be broken no matter what lengths his desperate parents go to. In addition to being funny, smart, and downright adorable, my youngest son is—and I’m not saying this lightly—the most obstinate child on the face of the planet. I’ve never known stubbornness like his, and I’m including my own inability to concede when it comes to certain matters about which I am correct and you are not.

I’m sure it’s a trait that will eventually serve him well in life, unless he chooses a career in the military, but what I’m saying is if he refuses to sleep we are pretty much all fucked until 1) he chooses otherwise, or 2) the Benadryl kicks in, and don’t even think I won’t go there.

Anyway, in the midst of the sleep deprivation and resentment and all, I sort of suddenly realized that his 2-year birthday is coming right up. Two years! (OF NOT SLEEPING OH MY GOD.) It’s both hard to believe he’ll be two already—wasn’t he just a tiny redheaded baby?—and impossible to remember a time when he wasn’t part of our lives.

We aren’t having some big party or anything, but I would like to think of something creative to do with his cake. Specifically, I would like it to be horse-themed, and really, that’s the sort of thing they should mention in that otherwise horrifically comprehensive What to Expect series: enjoy your adult interests while you can, sucker, because someday you will spend your spare time surfing photos of horse-shaped cakes and buying novelty cookie cutters. And staring at this photo with both terror and admiration.

Of course, knowing Dylan I will probably drive myself batty to come up with a perfect equine-pastry and he will refuse to eat it or possibly hurl it across the room in disgust. Then he’ll wake up at 12, 2:30, and 4:05 AM chirping “CAKE? CAKE? CAKE? CAKE?”


70 Responses to “Sleeping horses lie”

  1. wendy wisniewski on January 29th, 2010 10:56 am

    Saw this article on the NY times parenting blog site. You could used money OR horses… good luck.

  2. Tracy on January 29th, 2010 11:14 am

    that cake is horrifying! I vote horse cookies and then green sheet cake with plastic horses all over it. :)

  3. Katherine on January 29th, 2010 11:19 am

    Dude, don’t hurt yourself over this one. Just make a regular sheet cake and cover it with green frosting (mix some coconut in it to make it all grassy looking) and stick a new plastic horse or two on top. He can lick the frosting off the hooves and add Wilbur to the collection and you get a break.

  4. Redbecca on January 29th, 2010 11:35 am

    My 2.5 yo is coming down with a cold at daycare as we speak (caregiver just called about an hour ago). He caught it from Dad, however. Mine is also the most.stubborn.kid.ever and has decided to kick weekday naps to the curb. I think it was his new year’s resolution. So he is overtired in the evenings and while some nights he sleeps almost 12 hours, other nights he is up at 4:30 (today!) for good. Urgh. I don’t have any advice except to say ignore him. Wait him out for 10 minutes and see what happens. Yeah, everyone will wake up but hopefully after a week of this it will pass and just maybe he will get the idea that sleep = good. Is there anything he is eating regularly in the evenings? Consider eliminating or switching that to a different part of the day. Could be something setting off his tummy.
    As for cake…I can’t wait to see what you do. I’m not a baker (for all that it is my last name!) and our kiddo won’t touch the cake. Not even if it is chocolate cake! He’ll eat choco frosting, but not cake. For his b-day we do big honkin’ choco-chip cookies instead.
    Good luck, and I hope you get some decent sleep soon!

  5. Sheryl on January 29th, 2010 11:50 am

    Ikea Drommar cake pan set are vaguely horsey. Or something.

  6. Andrea on January 29th, 2010 12:17 pm

    My son, who will be turning 13 in March was just like this Linda. The kid didn’t sleep through the night until he was four. I swear.

    It was like a magic button went off as soon as he hit 4. He slept through the night and now wants to get 14 hours of sleep.

    Just hold tight and try not to go crazy.

  7. Sunshyn on January 29th, 2010 2:10 pm

    Mine sometimes doesn’t sleep through the night at age 7; he comes and gets in with us… I haven’t slept through the night in 35 years. I guess I’m used to it. I’d go with the sheet cake and plastic horses grazing on top, too… Oh, and Dana? That lipstick color? It’s called sick kid, and I dont’ think you can buy it anywhere, more’s the loss.

  8. Molly on January 29th, 2010 3:07 pm

    That is so funny! Happy Friday (and here’s wishing you a decent night of sleep…someday)

  9. Kirsty on January 29th, 2010 3:21 pm

    My younger daughter will be 6 in 3 months and is pretty stubborn, too. She didn’t sleep regularly through the night till she was about 4, but it did get progressively better from about 2 and a half onwards. The hardest part was the initial getting her to sleep (when she was a toddler, that part alone could involve me sitting next to her bed for 3 FUCKING HOURS, sobbing quietly to myself and HATING my husband who never had to do it (Lydie just SCREAMED when it was Papa who put her to bed) which did wonders for us all).
    And yeah, she’s cute and adorable and sweet and bright and all you want too. But stubborn, definitely stubborn. I’ve always been sceptical about astrology, but they say Taureans are stubborn (I’m Taurus and yeah, I’m pretty stubborn but I ALWAYS SLEPT WELL) and whaddya know, guess who’s TAURUS?!
    As for the cake, even I (and I LOVE cake) would find it hard to EAT a HORSE (especially here in France, where people really do eat REAL HORSES). I’d go with a standard cake with horse decorations, just to be safe.

  10. Jen L on January 29th, 2010 4:34 pm

    Ah yes, I am a veteran of a few birthday cake wars. Oh, the hours I spent researching butterfly cakes, castle cakes, dragon cookie cutters… A horse though – now that is a challenge! Since you’re close to Seattle, I *highly* recommend a trip to Home Cake, up on Roosevelt Way NE. (Which for some reason I always want to call Homeslice. I don’t know why.)

    Anyhoo, the place is packed with stuff, and overwhelming, but go up to the owner, tell her what you want to do and she will HOOK YOU UP. The cake knowledge in that one woman is awesome and scary.

    Good luck!!!

  11. 中国车网 on January 29th, 2010 5:44 pm


  12. Shin Ae on January 29th, 2010 6:50 pm

    Hee hee hee. I love the throwing cake image. I know the stubborness is maddening, but I agree that it will probably serve them well. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
    So sorry about the sleep regression and the croupy stuff. We’ve been there and I’m currently a zombie from the latest respiratory flare-up. You have my sympathy, for sure. I wish you a restful night and soon!

  13. Jenny on January 29th, 2010 8:25 pm

    Ah, birthday planning. Gah. After three kids and 11 years of mothering, I’d be more capable of handling it, but no.

    Can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

  14. ElizabethZ on January 29th, 2010 10:26 pm

    I am not quite sure what to say about that cake. It is eerie and interesting.

    The last two paragraphs are just great, I second the Harvard comedy writing class instructor recommendation. Your writing just cracks me up.

    Assvice Alert: As for stubborn D, he is old enough to understand when you say goodnight and that you aren’t coming back in, that it is time to sleep. Night Night. He knows you aren’t abandoning him, he can communicate needs better. I vote for some sleep training. I know you are afraid it might be nightmarish but you might be surprised. We recently went through a few weeks of teething hell (boy had no sign of teeth at 10 months, within the last month he has gotten 2up/2down front teeth) with our star sleeper, we completely accommodated him, held him, gave him extra formula when he woke, slept with him in the recliner in his room. But then when they were all broken through and he wasn’t frantically gnawing on anything in his path, guess who was still waking several times a night or moreso fighting sleep tooth and nail? Two nights, twenty minutes each of fussing (no hard crying or screaming – it eats our souls to listen to that, we can’t ignore it). Tonight, right to sleep and he slept through the night both nights he fussed and then went to sleep on his own.

    Not saying it will be that easy, but it has to be worth a try. Just make JB listen to the monitor on low and go as far away as you can, that is what I did, my husband was on monitor duty. I know it is hard to listen to. If you don’t show him there is nothing to do but sleep, then he won’t want to sleep. If given the choice, any young child will always want to be with or sleep with a parent. At this age, it isn’t cruel, really it isn’t, I don’t think sleep training is appropriate for young babies, but 10 months and up I don’t really think there is anything wrong with it.

    Good luck with whatever you end up doing, messed up sleep just bites.

  15. thejunebug on January 30th, 2010 11:19 am

    Yep, I go with Sheryl here – use the drommar cake pan from IKEA. It’ll be horse-shaped and you won’t kill yourself!

  16. Mama Kat on January 31st, 2010 11:16 pm

    I’m just really relieved our kids don’t go to daycare together.

  17. Nila on February 1st, 2010 1:38 am

    I can’t imagine where you would begin with cutting that cake. Do you start with the head or the ass. How disturbing…

    Good luck with the sleep deprivation. If anything, it’s great blogging fodder. Which I totally appreciate as you make my work day so much better.

  18. Annabelle on February 1st, 2010 9:58 am

    The only way I could think of to simplify a horse cake is to make the head only. But that may be a bit too horiffic… too close to that scene in that movie. He may indeed be scarred forever.

    I vote for the plastic horses on top of a sheet cake approach.

  19. Redbecca on February 1st, 2010 3:12 pm

    Hey, has Dylan gotten worse since the sun went away? We’re about to start vitamin D therapy.

  20. Katie @ Can't Get There From Here on February 1st, 2010 3:19 pm

    Is there a horse toy that he wants and is fairly washable and relatively small? Bake a sheet cake and stick it on top. Voila!

    I am also feeling you with the OH MY GOD SLEEP ALREADY thing. My girls (5 and 3) used to sleep through the night. You couldn’t wake them up if you tried. (Tornado sirens + one mom to cary both girls = fun.) But ever since they both were sick over Christmas? Both girls are up 2 or 3 times a night. Each. Spaced in one hour increments. Heads will roll soon.

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