The DragonMonkey is a creature of rituals.
He has a certain order at his bedtime routine, and every couple of weeks it seems something new is added.
It used to be that he needed to be nursed to go to sleep.
Once he self-weaned, that gravitated into needing a bottle to go to sleep.
Of course, let’s not forget that from the time he was three months old he was attached to his “Bahn-keee”, a small square of blue and white blanket my sister-in-law bought us from Target. He drags it around with him like a little Linus, chewing on the edges and sniffing it when he needs to self-soothe. For as many places as Bahnkee has gone, it’s held up surprisingly well.
Bahnkee and a bottle… that’s not too confusing, right?
Eventually we started the tradition of giving him kissies before bed.
“Give mama a kiss,” I’ll ask, and my son will open his mouth in a gaping, slobbery pantomime of a kiss, wetting my cheek with a loud, overemphasized “AWWWWWMMWWA!”
“Now give one to Dada,” The Bean will say. The DragonMonkey hones in on the Bean and I take advantage of the momentary distraction to wipe the spit off my cheek.
Slimy baby kisses. They’re not for the faint of heart.
After we’ve both been thoroughly spitted-up, the DragonMonkey juts his chin out expectantly and The Bean and I both lay a kiss on him at the same time. We lay him down in his crib, and hand him Bahnkee and his baba. We turn out the lights, close the door behind us, and voila. Bedtime has reached another successful conclusion.
That worked well for a few months, until one day I realized that the bedtime routine had developed an interesting new addition.
As I lay him down on the changing table to give him a fresh diaper for the night, The DragonMonkey’s hand will dart down, and he grabs his crotch in distress.
“Popo! Popo!” he says urgently.
“Do you have to use the bathroom?”
“ Do you have to go popo?”
“Yeah.” He squeezes his diaper harder, his need to poo apparently reaching critical levels.
I sigh, strip him of his pants and diaper, and watch as his bare little butt trots off in the direction of the bathroom….
Where suddenly he has absolutely no desire to sit on the toilet, or even go near it. Suddenly, it has become absolutely critical that he pet the “Dat” who is sitting impatiently on the counter, meowing for the water to be turned on.
After a few minutes of threatening I force him onto his potty seat, where he sits kicking his legs and straining to reach the toilet paper so he can wipe himself for the millionth time.
Naturally, nothing actually comes out.
We flush the pristine, unused toilet, wash our hands and return to the changing table, where I put a fresh diaper on and coat him liberally with powder.
“No, DragonMonkey, it’s taaaalco. It’s not polvo. Polvo is dust. This is Talco – Baby powder.”
“POOOOOOOBOOOOOOOOO,” he corrects me. Sternly.
“Fine. Polvo. Whatever.”
He nods, appeased. “POBO. Mama. Pobo Mama.”
His hand darts suddenly down the front of his diaper, and emerges chalk white with fresh baby powder.
“Pobo. Mama,” he says warmly, gently smearing the powder on my forearm.
I hate this part of the ritual. Just what Mama wants at the end of a long day— baby-crotch-powder all over my arm. Yaaay.
“Yeah, you sure put that TALCO all over the Mama.”
“Pobo. POOOOBOOO Mama.”
“Sure. Whatever. I’ve been thorough ‘pobo-ed’. Thanks, DragonMonkey.”
I stuff him into some ridiculously cute feetie pajamas, The Bean grabs him, we engage in the kissing ritual, and he finally goes to bed.
Recently, The DragonMonkey has added a new stalling ritual.
Bedtime still starts out the same:
I go to change his diaper.
He develops the sudden, inescapable urge to poo.
We go into the bathroom and try to ignore the obnoxious cat.
Nothing comes out.
We go back into the bedroom and put on a fresh diaper.
He ‘poboes’ my left arm.
I pick him up.
The Bean takes him from me.
We make sure we have the three Bahnkees he has now added to the list of necessary sleep items.
We get ready to engage in the kissing ritual, aaaand…
The Bean and I sigh. Here we go again.
“Good night, stuffed monkey,” we say, as the DragonMonkey waves goodnight to the tiny stuffed monkey dangling from a shelf.
“Good night, toys,” we repeat in exhaustion, waiting until the DragonMonkey has waved goodnight to to his pile of toys on the shelf.
“Good night, poop dispenser.”
“Good night, toy truck.
“A-da , Caaawr.”
“Good night, toy cars.”
“Good night, picture of Clifford.”
“Good night, trains.”
“Good night, book with the baby picture on the front.”
And so on, and so forth.
The DragonMonkey draws this process out for as long as he can. We say good night to every single item in his room.
Every stuffed animal.
We bid adieu to the “outside” that is behind his curtains.
We wish “Dot” a good night sleep— although how and when he decided that the picture hanging above his bed was named Dot, I’ll never know.
Every individual monkey, moon, photo, car, toy, book, and other visible noun is wished a good night’s sleep.
When he runs out of ideas and we begin threatening to put him to bed without his kissies, he turns his attention to us. Lately, he’s been lovingly wishing the Bean’s left ear a good night’s rest. “A-da. ‘eja,” (adios, oreja) he says in a familiar tone, his hand patting the top of the Bean’s hand condescendingly.
We would put a stop to this obvious stalling behavior, but frankly it’s a good chance to try to decipher the DragonMonkey’s garbled vocabulary.
Besides, it won’t be too many more years before he’ll resent me coming into his room at night, so I figure I better enjoy this while I can.