"Haciendo Piojitos" to Get Baby to Sleep February 02 2011

It all started two weeks ago when the toddler K woke up in the middle of the night crying. I usually just let her cry it out until she goes back to sleep on her own, but when she kept waking up every ten minutes and crying and crying and crying I decided to check in on her. As soon as I opened the door -- even before I turned on the light -- it hit me. It was that smell, that awful, awful smell of spoiled milk -- and instantly I felt a "bad parent" pang permeate out from my chest.

The toddler K had thrown up all over herself -- it was like a cottage cheese explosion in her crib, curdled milk-looking stuff that was all over her hair and face and pillow and sheets. I had let her cry off and on for over an hour as I watched Big Love on the TV downstairs. With a glass of wine. I had ignored her cry as I usually do but this time she had been crying for a reason.

I had mother's guilt, big time. And with that hanging over my head I became more lax about letting her sleep with us. Pobrecita, esta enfermita. I didn't want a repeat of curdled milk night and was willing to endure sleepless nights with the toddler stretched out like Jesus Christ on the Cross on our bed as my husband and I clinged to the edges and woke up with bad backs and stiff necks. I had ojeras most of the month of January -- because in there somewhere I also got sick.

Now we're trying to get back to some semblance of a nighttime sleep schedule for the toddler. I love my child, but sleeping with her is a serious pain, especially now that she's all personality and attitude at 18 months. If she doesn't like the position I'm sleeping in, she'll kick me, or push my face away if I look at her the wrong way, or insist I give her my back, or my front. I cahn't get no sleep.

On nights when she's restless as I rock her to sleep I've resorted to haciendole piojitos -- which is basically gently scratching the top of her head with my fingernails in a way that feels relaxing. Piojitos, for anyone who doesn't know, are head lice, so that translates directly to mean "making head lice." I'm sure someone out there is grossed out by that idea, but anytime I think of those words "hacer piojitos" it makes me feel warm inside because its an endearing gesture done out of love for someone.

And it's working. Well, mostly. Some times the toddler can't be bothered by it and swats my hand away in annoyance. But other times, she just goes with it, and eventually melts away into sleep in my arms.