8:15 PM, bedtime

Me: “Okay pookie, night night. Now remember, no—”

Dylan: “CWYING!”

Me: “Right. Just—”

Dylan: (delighted) “SWEEPING!”

Me: “Exactly! No crying tonight, just sleeping. Okay? Okay. I love you, sweetie.”

8:49 PM


Me: “Dylan. Shhhh. Riley’s sleeping. It’s night night time, remember?”

Dylan: “Just SWEEPING!”

Me: “GoodNIGHT.”

9:12 PM

Dylan: (incoherent yelling)

Me: “Hey, hey hey hey! What’s going on in here?”

Dylan: “Uhhh. I don’ know!”

Me: “Okay, come here. Listen, you. It’s bedtime. You need to close your eyes, okay? Think of something nice.”

Dylan: “Like CHICKENS!”

Me: “Oookay. Sure, like chickens.”

Dylan: “An’ a horse. An’ a COW. An’ a BUFFALO. An’ . . . an’ a coyote.”

Me: “Right. Sure. You think about coyotes.”

Dylan: “Where COYOTE go? Dat coyote RAN OFF! He’s inna WOODS!”

Me: “Yep. Probably sleeping.”

Dylan: (indignant) “No! He’s eating GWASS!”


9:38 PM

Dylan: (standing up in crib, peering around room)

Me: “Dylan, did you poop?”

Dylan: (slyly, waggling eyebrows) “Yeaaaaah!

Me: (sniffing) “You did not. Now go. To. Sleep.”

9:45 – 2 AM

Blissful silence

2:12 AM

Dylan: (incoherent shrieking)

Me: “Mmmfff. Dylnn. Wassa. Plz gobackto. Sleep.”

Dylan: (chirpy) “Okay!”

3:45 AM, 5:12 AM

Repeat of above

6:00 AM


Me: “?!?!?!”

Dylan: “I got a LEAFBLOWER!”


7:15 AM

Dylan: “Hi Mommy! Wake up now? Wake up?

Me: “Dylan. We can’t keep on like this. You have to start sleeping better. DYLAN. SERIOUSLY. ARE YOU LISTENING TO—”

Dylan: (bouncing happily) “Just SWEEPING! Iss okay Mommy. Shhhh! I’m lookin for COYOTES. An’ horses, an’ buffalo, an’ . . . an’ CHICKENS.”


53 Responses to “Reasoning with a toddler”

  1. McKenna on August 17th, 2010 9:38 am

    Add a newborn to that and you have my life right now.

  2. Claudia on August 17th, 2010 9:39 am

    Sigh. Yeah. This is one of the many many many reasons I stopped at two kids. It does get better eventually. Eventually. I seriously feel your pain. I wish you’d stop dredging up bad memories, though. :)

  3. Sahara on August 17th, 2010 9:40 am

    Oh my god I think we have the same kid. Only mine is now 5 1/2 and (praise be) he likes to draw, so he draws in bed at night until he falls asleep. The daytime energy, though, whoo boy. THAT’S still in full effect.

  4. Deb on August 17th, 2010 9:44 am

    Ok, I know this is not necessarily a plea for advice, but I’ll tell you what keeps my kids from harassing me (as much) in the night –

    They get sippies of water in their beds (yeah, I know – but I’ve never had anyone wet their bed, so…)

    They have lullaby cds that play all night, and special nightlights (my son’s is a volcano). They get books and stuffed animals in their beds. And recently, in a fit of desperation, I let my daughter have her Magna-Doodle in her bed, too. I’m telling you, it works – we have far fewer bedtime/middle of the night hassles.

    Or maybe they are just drowning in the stuff I chuck in there and I can’t hear them…. eh, whatev.

  5. 6512 and growing on August 17th, 2010 9:46 am

    *laughing all the way through*

    Capturing the absurdity of toddlers does count as therapy, a little bit.

  6. samantha jo campen on August 17th, 2010 9:46 am

    I’m clucthing my sides right now from laughing so hard. Yup, that’s a toddler alright.

    OMG where to they think of these things? A LEAFBLOWER?

    Theo talks about “Sharks in da ocean not gonna bite me?” Yeah, a great topic before drifting off to sleep.

  7. MichelleH on August 17th, 2010 9:48 am

    This is why I only have the one. This is my life too (complete with Yellow Submarine being the go to song). When will this end?? Sweet Lord, when will this end?? I hope Claudia is right, but I gotta admit, I stopped believing a looooong time ago.

  8. Penne on August 17th, 2010 9:51 am

    I thought I was the only one that had leafblower dreams.

    Is he still taking an afternoon nap? Maybe he needs more exhaustion in his day…sure works for me.

  9. Shawna on August 17th, 2010 9:52 am

    I love it when you post these kinds of updates!! Too funny!

  10. debra on August 17th, 2010 9:58 am

    I hate to tell you this, I’m only laughing because it’s terribly sad that my 9yr old still does this to me. About once a month I beg him to let me sleep through the night. The other 29 nights, he feels compelled to come give me a hug, ask for me to straighten his blankets, kill a noisy cricket OUTSIDE his bedroom window, etc, etc, etc.

  11. Nolita Morgan on August 17th, 2010 9:59 am

    Ok, after I sent that tidbit about the unorthodox method I read about of screaming back at him when he wakes you in the middle of the night, I have been gifted with a 3am (yesterday) and 2:30am (today) barging in of the almost 3 yr old announcing that he “needs to pee”. I’ve been left to try to get myself back to sleep during the “unholy hour”. I thought yesterday was a fluke and was proud (and annoyed) because he IS potty training, but today sealed the deal on something we have to nip. Oy! At the risk of getting another early morning wakeup from MY boy, have you invested in some good ear plugs?

  12. Brenna on August 17th, 2010 10:02 am

    Last night, the 3rd time my almost 2.5 year old trotted from her bed to the door, my husband was there to meet her. She looked up at him and she said “How many times do I HAFTA tell you?” How do I begin to discipline that?

  13. Melissa on August 17th, 2010 10:09 am

    I have this problem at nap time so I throw my son in the crib with a few crayons and a coloring book. He usually passes out from exhaustion after 30 min or so. We have an only child, so with the bedtime tantrums, we just let him sit there and scream in the crib. It usually doesn’t last for more than a few minutes…but I’m well aware every child is different.

    Good luck with sleeping! Maybe some ear plugs for you and the rest of the household?

  14. angelica on August 17th, 2010 10:13 am

    sight, remember the days. I opted for being fairly stern. A total push over in most other parenting arenas I’ve been fairly strict on sleeping, out of total necessity. they are pretty good now. Sometimes they don’t feel like going to sleep, so I let them choose one (or two) toys, and they can play with them in bed. As long as they stay there I ignore, and everyone gets some sleep.

    good luck, really funny post. you gotta love em though

  15. kristylynne on August 17th, 2010 10:16 am

    Um, Benadryl?

  16. Angella on August 17th, 2010 10:19 am

    I now understand why you had three naps a day while we were in New York. DUDE. I feel for you.

  17. Courtney on August 17th, 2010 10:34 am

    HORSE. Where was the HORSE!?

  18. Amanda on August 17th, 2010 10:41 am

    This post made me laugh. It’s not easy to write the way a toddler speaks, however, you have captured it perfectly! I have a 2 year old that has conversations now and it’s the funniest thing – until bedtime.

    I think you deserve a nap now.

  19. Sheila on August 17th, 2010 10:49 am

    This is priceless…and when they get to be 27 and 34…you will wish they were still pestering you with stories of chickens and “sweeping”…too funny. Right now it seems as if sleep will never come…but time goes soooo quickly. Enjoy it while you can!

  20. Sarah on August 17th, 2010 10:58 am

    This happens at my house too. Except my lovely 2 year old boy wants to play hockey. And his babies say, “No goal.” And he insists on sleeping with is stick. I love the sound of his voice between 6 am and 8 pm but after that I just want him to sleep for the love of rest!

  21. Melissa on August 17th, 2010 11:32 am

    I’m sorry and also I’m glad this happens to you too and not just me. For me, it seems to be a 2nd kid thing. The first kid was calm and cautious and obedient and potty trained fast and slept well. Second kid, not so much. She gets up 30 seconds after I put her to bed, sometimes to play, sometimes to empty the VapoRub container, sometimes to take off her jammies and diaper and sleep naked on the floor. She’s so unpredictable, it’s hilarious and incredibly frustrating all at once. I hope you get your wish for better sleeping ASAP.

  22. MRW on August 17th, 2010 12:05 pm

    It’s wrong that just the title of this made me guffaw. Reasoning with a toddler. Hilarious.

    Got through this with my son a few years ago and am SO not looking forward to doing it again with my daughter.

  23. Sunny on August 17th, 2010 12:21 pm

    6 a.m. leafblower….sounds like the asshole neighbor next door to us. Unfortunately his leafblower is real and he’s not nearly as cute as Dylan.

  24. Becca on August 17th, 2010 1:02 pm

    Oh my, I got a good laugh out of this!

  25. wealhtheow on August 17th, 2010 1:41 pm

    Take this and turn it into a struggle with food, and that’s my kid. Not nearly as soul-sucking because it doesn’t involve sleep, but still as crazy-making and horrific, as in how can someone who doesn’t EAT poop SIX TIMES A DAY? And oh my god, half a chicken nugget is NOT ENOUGH FOR LUNCH, and would it really, literally, KILL you to eat a fruit, or vegetable, or anything remotely good for you?? SERIOUSLY?? AND NO I WILL NOT MAKE YOU CRAPPY MICROWAVE MAC AND CHEESE BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T EAT MORE THAN 1 BITE THE LAST 6 TIMES I MADE IT JESUS H CHRIST ENOUGH ALFUCKINGREADY!!!!!

    (Sorry about that.)

  26. Baking Mad Mama on August 17th, 2010 2:34 pm

    We are also currently having sleeping issues. My boy is 2 and four months and the bedtime routine currently involves a medley of give me the t-shirt the t-shirt NO not the t-shirt the sock with the frog on it THE FROG DAMMIT no not the sock, the truck, what do you mean I can’t have a truck in bed with me RAAAAAR for an hour. Then he’s fine till 5am when it is inexplicably suddenly time to get up and start the day. Cue me engaging with my first bout of morning sickness at least two hours earlier than I would like and relying on BBC iPlayer too much while I attempt to join the world of the living.

    Dylan sounds so adorable, but they are exhausting. Hope the sleeping improves soon.

  27. Catriona on August 17th, 2010 2:45 pm

    Dylan is a little bit older than my daughter so I’m getting a glimpse of where I’ll be in 6 months time… oh lordy.

  28. Samantha on August 17th, 2010 2:57 pm

    I am so there with you that it’s not even funny. Seriously, I read your entry and felt the desperate need for sleep and the absolute powerlessness. I have my 4 year old and 1 year old sharing a bedroom, so when we go through this there’s the terror of the other one waking up too. Good luck to you :)
    Swimming helps to wear out the 4 year old.

  29. adequatemom on August 17th, 2010 4:11 pm

    This post made me laugh SO HARD. Your Dylan and my Gwen would get along famously, I’m pretty sure.

  30. Jodie on August 17th, 2010 4:14 pm

    My almost 2 year old sits in her crib and babbles, then pauses, listens, then laughs hysterically and screams “funny FUNNY!” until we tell her to go back to sleep. Then she cries.

  31. harmzie on August 17th, 2010 5:06 pm

    Sweet merciful crap. I wish I could offer you a light at the end of this tunnel, but my 10 year old has trouble getting to sleep pretty much every night. She seems to be able to select the *most inopportune time* (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more) to come in to my room and discuss her anxiety-du-jour (sun exploding, volcanoes in the middle of the prairie, the ear piercing dilemma etc).

    But when she was a toddler, she slept fine, so maybe it’s reverse-rule. I hope for your sake it is. As for me, I’ll just jam this pen in my ear.

  32. Lylah on August 17th, 2010 5:18 pm

    My 3-year-old still does this sometime. And, I swear, I kind of wish my teenagers would, sometimes….

  33. Karen on August 17th, 2010 7:20 pm

    Gotta love the evolutionary protection… crazy talking yet adorable toddlers.

    I remember camping once, so of course the distance of walls and a hallway suddenly seemed like a luxury… and through the thin tent we heard the 3 year old…. ” I don’t WANNA sleep. I’m not GONNA sleep. Not without a cookie. Yup that’s it, a cookie. Cookie… sleep…. NO COOKIE, NO SLEEP….” We were sitting outside just howling at the monologue, and then it stopped mid-stream. Even without the cookie. Poor kid is eight now and we still put him to bed sometimes reciting his little manifesto.

    I also have a 15 year old who can sleep 14 hours at a stretch and wouldn’t wake for a house alarm. So yeah, it does get better!

  34. Merideth on August 17th, 2010 7:52 pm

    Good thing he’s cute, huh?

  35. Erika on August 17th, 2010 8:10 pm

    All I could here was him chirping, “Horse? Horse? HORSE!?!” I wish I could meet him just so I could get him to say it. :)

  36. Ellen on August 17th, 2010 10:33 pm

    Two words: Chewable Melatonin.

  37. Anonymous on August 18th, 2010 8:34 am

    Ellen I agree Chewable Melatonin. Our Doctor recommended it for our adopted child who had drug exposure as a newborn and this leads to nigh time issues. Give it to him at 7pm and 45 minutes later he starts to unwind and is then willing to go to bed and gets a good night sleep.

  38. Kami on August 18th, 2010 10:23 am

    This is exactly like the (one-sided) conversations I have with MY two year old. Except he adds his own personal narrative, “I throw this doggie on the floor. I get out of bed wight now. I wake up my bruddah.” etc.

  39. Gilly on August 18th, 2010 10:32 am

    Dylan is too adorable.

    I know he’s being a pain, but reading this is really making me want a kid of my own.

  40. stephanie on August 18th, 2010 10:46 am

    “Oh my aching God, kid.”

    I would have laughed harder, but my kid (in utero) probably would have woken back up and resumed punching my ribs.
    Thanks for the stifled laugh.

  41. stephanie on August 18th, 2010 10:50 am

    Duh, should have just made ONE post… anyway, I saw this “time to sleep/time to wake up” clock in one of those unsolicited magazines and maybe it’d help?
    Granted, it’s $40, but the isn’t sanity priceless or something? http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=536615&cmSource=Search

  42. lisa on August 18th, 2010 12:05 pm

    hahahaha so funny!!! he is soo cute..but also maddening im sure

  43. Lesley on August 18th, 2010 10:55 pm

    Sounds like he actually means sweeping. As in sweeping your sleep away.

    Kids. Now, if science would only probe the secret to the energy source and bottle that for sale to adults…

  44. Redbecca on August 19th, 2010 7:44 am

    Hmm, I’d say as much as it will suck for the rest of you (maybe get Riley some earplugs?), let him just CIO. Don’t. Give. In. You can’t. As soon as you open the door on it, they won’t leave you alone – they have that attention, negative or positive. It sucks for a few nights but then it gets blissfully better. If you do have to get up with him for some reason, No Talking. NONE. Not one word. The conversation and stimulation is what he is looking for.
    I wasn’t a CIO proponent until ours reached an age where dammit, he should be sleeping through the night, and then I jumped on board (I was lenient until he was 18 months!).
    Shut his door completely. If you are scared he will get out of the crib, get a crib tent. Does he have a lovey? Keep that in there – keep several. And a sippy of water. My son actually considers his Wa-tuh to be one of the “guys,” heh heh, and it was one of the keys to getting him to STTN.
    He is in a big boy bed now with bed rails, and at first we kept his door cracked but he started getting up and coming to see us in the night. So we shut his door and he can’t open it. He howled for a few nights (hearing him wimper by the door about broke my heart), but then everything was fine. Now he STTN almost every night, and if he does wake, he puts himself back to sleep unless something is really wrong.
    Our problem now is that he is waking before 6am when he hears my husband’s first of 57843920574 snooze alarms, and can’t go back to sleep. And he doesn’t nap. So bedtime is now 7:30 or earlier.
    My rambling point though is that you gotta be tough on his little ass. It will suck for everyone else in the house, but trust me, after a few nights of hell, it WILL get better. Do it over a 3 day weekend or something so the rest of you can take naps or sleep in a bit if it becomes necessary.
    Oh, and if he doesn’t have one, you might consider getting a noise machine for his room – one with different sounds. That has helped our guy a lot. When he does nap, he prefers the “amazon jungle” or “island surf” sounds. At night he gets “cooling fan” or “white noise.”

  45. Donia on August 19th, 2010 10:15 am

    If both boys aren’t already in the same room, try sticking them together. Somehow the window is less scary when brother is sleeping three feet away. That’s right. The window is too scary. The window.

  46. Breeches on August 19th, 2010 11:08 pm

    Excellent podcast, and thanks for including us. As usual, you did an excellent job at summarizing what blogging is all about. We really do love the information exchange with our colleagues

  47. Ellie on August 23rd, 2010 7:40 am

    Change the name to Flora and you just described every night in my house. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone in my sleepless nights. Good thing they’re cute!

  48. Shannon Dawson on August 28th, 2010 7:59 pm

    I feel your pain, but all I can think of is Trace Adkins song your gonna miss this. My daughter is a senior this year and is going off to colege before long and believe me you will miss it.For those that say well she just doesn’t remember what it is like to have a toddler. I also have a 14 year old, and a very lively 4 year old both of which are boys!!!! :)

  49. Melinda on August 29th, 2010 8:24 am

    LOL I feel your pain. The good thing is you will look back years later and think that was cute. I can clearly remember constantly hearing jumping going on in the crib during nap time.

  50. Jen Hollywood-S. on September 16th, 2010 6:10 pm

    I just began reading your blog and I LOVE it! My son, who just turned 2, has a lot to say, about nearly everything. I was changing his diaper yesterday, in normal fashion, and he said, “Mommy, be CAREFUL!”

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