Monday, July 12, 2010

Choosing Your Battles

Shortly after our youngest daughter was born, Brooke, our two-year-old, began sleeping on the floor. As far as Joel and I can tell, she's boycotting her bed. Whether this is a silent protest against her new sibling or just a random coincidence, we're not sure.

It started in late May during one of her afternoon naps. When I heard her stirring, I entered her bedroom and almost stepped on her. She had been curled up on her blanket, head on her pillow and arm around her puppy, directly at the base of her bed. We both seem surprised. "Hi, Mommy. I sleep on floor," she reported.

"I see that."

I thought nothing of the exchange until that night's bedtime when she laid down on the floor instead of climbing up into bed. Since that day, that is where she's slept every nap and every night.

We've occasionally tried to dissuade her. One night Joel crept into her room, lifted her sleeping form off the floor, and carefully lowered her into bed. We silently high-fived each other as we walked down the hallway to our own room, confident that one good night's sleep back in her bed would turn the tide.

Clearly we had underestimated her. That night at three in the morning we woke to her loud proclamation: "Brooke sleep on floor! No bed!" Scratch that strategy. We tried logic, explaining that her bed would be more comfortable than the floor. I put on her cute flowered sheets. She didn't budge.

She loves that floor.

It bothers me. Why is this child of mine trading the comfort of a perfectly good bed -- a bed where she slept for two months without a hitch before her baby sister was born -- for a hard floor? I don't have the answer. Only Brooke does. Somewhere inside of that little two-year-old mind of hers, she has a reason.

We could exercise our rightful parental authority and demand that she return to bed, but I guarantee that every bedtime would become a battle of the wills. And what would be the purpose? Only that I would feel better because things would be proper once again. Other than my unease, letting Brooke sleep on the floor causes no problems. She goes to bed each night obediently, sleeps the whole night through, and wakes up happy. She's in no danger. She's not being rebellious. She's just being quirky.

So, I bite my tongue and get down on my hands and knees to tuck her in each night. I sing her favorite song, pray for her, kiss her, and stand back up to leave.

I suspect that I'll open her door one morning and the blanket on the floor will be empty. We'll look at each other, surprised, and I'll hear her little voice: "Hi Mommy, I sleep in bed."

"I see that," I'll say, and that will be the end of the saga. A war will have been avoided because a battle won't have been picked.

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