Bedtime with Mabel has been a bit of an ordeal lately.
I’ve taken to sitting her on the potty before bed, as she’s amenable, and she had started using it as a procrastination measure, dramatically exclaiming, “But I have a pew” to get out of the bedroom once we’d settled in. This way at least I can pre-empt that, even though I really have no interest in having a totally potty trained baby just yet: I like being able to change her when it suits me, not whenever the mood strikes her to drag us all to the bathroom. But I know well enough not to look this particular gift horse in the mouth, so I’m trying to go with it.
For the last two evenings, after sitting down and squeezing out a couple of drops, she’s leapt up, turned around to face the potty, and announced, “I going to use my penis.”
“Mabel, you don’t have a penis.”
“Yes I do have a penis.” She peers down over her tummy.
“No, Mabel. You have lots of other good stuff, but you don’t have a penis. If you had a penis, we’d be able to see it.”
Then we’re in bed. I start to nurse her. She squirms. She squiggles. She wants to lie down. She wants the other side, the “big side”.
“Mabel,” I sigh, “they’re both the same. You just had this side.”
But I shuffle over anyway.
Eventually, she straddles me, wags a finger admonishingly in my face, and says, “You stay there. Fi’ minutes.” She slowly gets off the bed, pretending to look for a dolly on the other side of the room. Then she slyly glances at me, sees her opportunity, and makes a break for freedom: out the door (ajar, for light), and slithering down the stairs like an eel, to run into the family room and climb up into the stroller, head down, “hiding” from inevitable retrieval.
I console myself, as I mount the stairs again with my wriggly, giggly, wide-awake burden (“I not wide-awake. I Mabel.”) that her brother was a terrible sleeper too, and look at him now. Hard out with a bead of sweat on his nose because he’s directly under the glare of his bedside light. Every night, when Mabel’s finally asleep, I turn it off, leaning precariously over from the top step of his loft-type bed on one tippytoe. The step creaks and my sweater might brush his face, but he doesn’t budge, even with the click and the sudden darkness. And there he’ll stay, till 6am. There’s hope for Mabel yet. I think.