It’s halftime – Jordy’s afternoon nap on a day when he and I are fending for ourselves. So far so good. He has done everything I’ve asked within 5 minutes of my politely suggesting it; and while things did turn a bit custardy and teary by bath time, this was only to be expected after a long morning filled with sun, biking, purple flower bridges, huge leaves, banana trees, feeding hungry fish, ant-bite-yous, slides and wiping down every surface in the house (by him, not me, just to be clear).
Jordy has that very common toddler affliction where he refuses to get into the bath and then when he finally gets in, he refuses to get out. What is the psychology behind this? Perhaps he knows that at bath-time his parents will not back down, no matter how much he protests, so it’s a good opportunity for him to enjoy a delicious bout of stubbornness and still get what he wants at the end of it all. This type of genius psychology is one of those talents that comes effortlessly to toddlers, like learning multiple languages, and which most of us lose as we get older and universally dimmer, excluding those who retain both abilities into adulthood and so become very good spies.
Anyway, today Jordy refused to get in and then out of the bath about 20 times in 5 minutes, all the while screaming and crying. Eventually we got through the bath (a few times) but even after he got into his cot he was like an inconsolable drill-sergeant, delivering tearful orders throughout his bedtime stories.
In the end I managed to send him off to sleep by talking about all the fun things we did this morning. I have never done this before but it worked like a charm. It started from that feeling common to all parents, where you give your children such a nice day and then they are ‘like this’.
‘Look Jordy’, I said, ‘you are being ridiculous. We had such a good morning. Don’t you remember going on the bike and seeing the banana trees, and the purple flower bridge?’ The change in his expression was immediate: from miserable drill-sergeant to ex-soldier wistfully looking back on the time his life became intertwined with a mysterious family from England’s fading aristocracy. If that won’t send you to sleep I don’t know what will. As I narrated the events of the morning, he softened into his pillow. He put his hand over his eyes when I said ‘close your eyes and go to sleep.’ I closed my eyes too and it wasn’t long before I heard the regular gentle breathing of a sleeping Jordy.