Last night, RJC decided to wake up at 2:45am, crying, with a diaper full of the world’s poop. This happens about two to three times per month, and so we can’t really complain that our nine month old, on occasion, needs us to do some diapes and wipes in the middle of the night. I’m not saying that I’m thrilled to be maneuvering my way around her poop in the dark, but it’s part of the gig and she’s super sweet most of the time, so I comply. Also, I’m pretty sure she’d much rather be taking care of business herself, but since she’s still mastering the art of getting the Cheerio directly into her mouth on the first try, we’ll give her a pass.
HOWEVER. The people I will no longer give a pass to are our neighbors, who suck.
Oh, I should mention that, while it’s difficult to tell at this moment, I’ve recently been working on being more Zen. I keep a few running mantras handy in my head to stay centered and more peaceful, since I don’t like it when my blood pressure rises, giving way to grumpiness and a cycle of feeling bummed out about humanity. Which totally happened last night when I found myself literally kicking a wall.
Also part of the Zen practice, if you didn’t know.
First, some background: about three months ago, RJC hated everything about being left to sleep alone in her crib for longer than 20 minutes at a stretch. As you can imagine, this was an incredibly fun part of our parenting journey and CB and I have never been more rested or centered in our lives.
So, we spoke to the pediatrician at her checkup, with desperation in our eyes, to ask about how we could stop this and enjoy life again. And while her doctor wouldn’t tell us how or when to “sleep train” our little bundle of immense joy and pleasure, she did answer my question with the quickness of a hummingbird’s fluttering wing when I asked: “Have you seen negative effects of sleep training?” and she spat out “No, only positive.” She then went on to explain how important consistency is for both RJC and us, and reminded us that we needed to be comfortable with whatever choices we made regarding this issue.
And so, after reading a LOT, talking to friends, and assessing that we simply could not function on four interrupted hours of sleep per night and stay married/living in the world, we decided on a staggered method of sleep training where we’d let her cry for two minutes, go in. Cry for five minutes, go in. Cry for eight minutes, go in. And so on. Luckily, our daughter would cry for no more than about ten minutes straight, and wasn’t even giving it her best (we knew – we’d heard her best). Finally, after about ten minutes, she’d realize we weren’t coming back to play and would go to sleep. It took about three days. Which makes most parents who have experienced sleep training hate us, since apparently some kids really dig in and give it a go. RJC, it turned out, really just wanted to sleep and picked up on what was going on pretty quickly.
HOWEVER. Our neighbors, apparently, couldn’t deal.
On Day 1, which happened on a Saturday night at 8pm, RJC was intermittently crying for about five minutes when we heard loud banging on her wall from our living room. We looked at each other.
CB: “Did the neighbors just bang on the wall?”
Me: “I’ll kill them.”
BANG BANG BANG.
CB: MANY CURSE WORDS.
Me: REPLYING IN ONLY CURSE WORDS.
So this kind of blew sleep training on night one, since they banged consistently every time she’d cry. Eventually, we went in and basically set everything back to the way it was. I hated them with the heat of a nova and discussed this with CB.
CB: “I’m going over there.”
Me: “No, we can’t have the first time we meet our neighbors be when you’re yelling.”
CB: “I won’t yell. Unless they’re dicks about it.”
Me: “We need to be the bigger people here. I mean, a crying baby is annoying, especially when it’s not yours. So I get that. But it’s Saturday night. It’s not a Tuesday at 3 am or anything, and she’s not a crier. Plus, I have to take the pictures down from her wall because they shake when there’s banging and if a frame falls into her crib, I’ll murder them.”
CB: “Ok, I agree. But if they keep it up, I’m definitely going over there.”
So I texted Beth, she suggested a Dunkin Donuts gift card or something to be like “Dude, we get it. Here’s some free coffee to ease your fake-pain of listening to the child that came from my body cry for a few minutes. How dare she.” (paraphrased)
The next day, on my way home from work, I bought a blank card with a piglet on it (ADORABLE), a bottle of red wine (GENIUS), and a Dunkin Donuts gift card (EXTRA!) and got to work. I wrote out a little note from Rauri, explaining that she was six months old and that, NEWS!, babies cry sometimes. We understand that sharing a wall with that baby can be annoying, and so, here’s some wine and coffee, neighbors! Quit banging! (again, paraphrased)
The banging stopped for a few weeks, but also, so did the crying. Like I said, she cries, on average, about three times per month. However, here and there, when she’d sneak in a cranky night, the banging started coming back. Not every time, but over the last month or so, it’s been ramping back up, along with my blood pressure. And I should mention that, until last night, it’s happened while CB and I are still awake (which tells you how early it is each time, since we’re insanely lame.)
But last night, I’d had it. RJC woke up, cried, I got up, made a bottle, went into her room, smelled what was happening down below, and changed her. This took approximately 4-6 minutes, and then she stopped yelling at me when I finally gave her the bottle. However, during the yell-crying, the banging started and I LOST MY MIND. But since I was responsible for this little life on the changing table, I kept it together, mantra’d the hell out of the moment, and finished my mom-tasks.
THEN, I kicked the wall as hard as I could twice to send the message I’ve wanted to send for three months. YOU GUYS SUCK SOOOOOOO BAD AND I WILL KICK A WALL BECAUSE OF IT, EVEN THOUGH I’M A ZEN GROWN-UP.
Cut to: back in bed.
Me: “I hate our (expletive) neighbors.”
CB: “Me too.”
Me: “I had to bang back tonight.”
CB: “I know, I could hear it on the monitor. Nice work.”
And then I grumbled my displeasure into my pillow until we both fell back to sleep.
And then woke up this morning and continued louder grumbling!
CB: “I don’t think I can go over there or we might get evicted.”
Me: “Agreed. But I want to warn you that, if I go over there and they sass back, I’ll use offensive language, most likely, which wouldn’t be productive.”
Me: “My thought is, we’ve tried to be understanding and even neighborly with our approach. But babies cry sometimes. Banging does nothing but make her cry more, anger us, and resolve nothing. So next time it happens – whether it’s 8pm or 3 in the morning – I’m going over there. Sometimes, if someone has to see your face, it makes it harder to be a jerk. But they really need to knock it off or come talk to us so we can explain how baby humans work.”
CB: “Sounds good. And if that doesn’t work, can I go over there?”
Me: “Yes, but we’ll have to know the availability of apartments in our neighborhood before doing so.”
So….stay tuned! And also, any suggestions?