Nightmare at Bedtime

Our granddaughter, Claira, is 15 months old. She was spending the night with us, along with her brother and sister, ages 5 and 3.

Claira has a sweet, happy personality, but she’s also semi-strong willed.

She was all rainbows and unicorns! She even had them on her pajamas, but then it was…bedtime.  Claira had been laughing, cooing, and cawing until JJ (my wife Janet) and PawPaw (me) had the audacity to lay her down in the baby bed.

As JJ carefully laid her down, Claira immediately let it be known that she thought we were completely incompetent to try to put her down to go to sleep!

We talked softly to her, patted her back, patted her diapered bottom, rubbed her head, nothing at all made her happy.

She spit out her pacifier like it was a poisonous trick, pulled off the baby blanket, and screamed even louder when the door closed. We figured she’d quickly settle in for a long night of restful sleep.


The unicorns turned red and grew multiple horns, and the rainbows became a Class 5 hurricane.  She started to wail, not whimper, not cry, wail.

We figured she would go to sleep. She didn’t. JJ went in to comfort her. Didn’t work.

A few minutes later, I tried. When I walked in, Claira was standing up holding the side rails of the baby bed.  She stopped screaming, but just for just a second, until she realized she hadn’t won the battle because I didn’t pick up her up out of the bed.

I laid her back down and said, “Time for night night, Claira.”  She looked at me like I was Judas and had just kissed her on the cheek!

She threw a temper tantrum that a Tasmanian devil would kneel before.  She began screaming in protest and climbed back up making herself absolutely miserable.

She kind of looked like she was in jail holding onto the baby bed rails like they were cell bars.

I filled her sippy cup with water. She grabbed it, took a drink, and began dragging it in protest across the crib rails like an inmate running a tin cup across the prison bars.   I laid her down, again, and she immediately sat back up.  It was clear she wasn’t planning on giving in to that dreadful thing called sleep.

Miss night owl, Claira, in her unicorn and rainbow pajamas in the baby bed in our guest bedroom

Just wait, Claira! One day when you grow up, one of the biggest delights of your life will be to lay down to take a nap or sleep peacefully through the night!  Unfortunately, that one day won’t be today.

She howled at first, then sounded like her feelings were hurt when I closed the bedroom door.  I guess a closed door is like solitary confinement to a one year old.

She continued to cry and scream.  Janet checked on her.

She was raising a ruckus.  I checked on her.

She was bawling and shrieking.  Janet checked on her again.

She kept screeching and sobbing.  I checked on her again.

She worked herself into a baby fit frenzy!  It was like Rosemary’s Baby!

Nightmare at Bedtime story

I spoke to Claira. Made it worse. I patted her on the back. Made it worse.  I sang a song. Made it worse.  I laid down on the bed near the crib…

…lo and behold, she quieted! OK, it was just a teensy little bit, but it was something!

I looked up and she was staring at me between deep breaths.  She looked exhausted, like she was about to break out singing an old Blues spiritual — “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow….”

Between sobbing gasps, she plopped down and laser eyed me while I laid on the bed peeking under my arm.  She grabbed her pacifier and shoved it in and eventually she eased down to lay on the bed. Then finally, thank you Jesus, she finally fell asleep.

I grabbed the opportunity and quietly tiptoed out…until I closed the door too hard and it made a dull pop sound.

I held my breath and waited.  Silence!  I took two steps down the hall, then Claira let out a blood-chilling cry…


19 thoughts on “Nightmare at Bedtime”

  1. Hi Jeff, what with being the parents of five children (last two were twins), you sure brought back some memories. We’ve been relatively lucky with our grandchildren, well actually my wife has. We used to buy the pacifiers by the dozen because we learned early on you don’t want to misplace them or not be able to find them when you need them. And how about those battery powered swings, tell me those aren’t a gift from God! And quietly closing the door …. I could almost visualize you. Don’t forget the musical beds routine, where you went to bed in your own bed but were never quite sure whose bed you would wake up in. Thanks for the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bruce, those battery powered swings are pretty sweet!! And yes! The musical beds was like a semi-asleep dream at times! Lol. And for pacifiers, the first child you boil the pacifier after you drop it. Second child you rinse it off under the faucet. Third child and beyond, let the dog lick it clean and pop it back in!!


  2. Oh, my goodness… yes, memories… except my son was able to go on for a looooong time…an hour or more. So, I constructed a very very complicated bedtime routine. 😣🙄 But it worked… and now that’s all behind us. He’s 22 … but honestly? He’s still a night owl. 😉 Hilarios post, Jeff. Love the description of the tin cup… uh, I mean sippy cup. 🤣 Loved all of this post! You are such a great writer. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lynn, even after 20 years it all comes back so clear! One day you will be reliving those memories in living color!

      And thank you for the very kind and gracious words, Lynn! Peace to you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Been there with our Gransdon. But he is now 3 1/2 and somethere just after 3 years old I found I could give him a choice when he was staying with us. “If you want the door open then you stay in bed. ( he was sleeping on a mattress on the floor) If you want to get up and wander around the room then I will close the door. What do you choose? Door open or door closed? ” Door closed”, he replied and went and lay down on the bed and was not heard from again till morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brilliant, Anne! And what you didn’t know about that was going on behind closed doors obviously didn’t hurt him! That technique may need to go in the tool box!


  4. You just brought back painful bedtime memories to every parent and grandparent out there! We will have the nightmares tonight 🙂 Ahh, the drama of bedtime! (Fun to read though!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Robyn! You are still close in time to this part of parenthood, and I bet you truly did have special challenges with the sensory overload at bedtime! (But it’s so much easier as the grandparent!) You’ll love it, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, yes, the fun of bedtime! I remember it well 😉. Laying down next to my girls and stroking their hair usually worked for me.
    The grandboys are just plain spoiled, though—my husband just sleeps between them (and they’re 5 & 7—quite old enough to be sleeping by themselves!) in a queen size bed in our spare bedroom. 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s probably not a good idea for parents to spoil kids, but with grandkids, all bets are off! Grandparents are supposed to spoil their grandkids! And those spare bedrooms at grandma’s house are made for those visits!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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