It's been a rough few days, too rough to give me much time to post. Today seems to be shaping up better, thank God. But I don't know what the hell happened to give Mari such awful naps for the last few days.
On Sunday, Mari entirely skipped her morning nap for the first time ever. She screamed and screamed as soon as I put her down at more or less the usual time and wouldn't stop no matter what. A few times, I tried letting her get up, then putting her down again once she seemed calm, but as soon as she realized I was trying to get her to nap, she started screaming at the top of her lungs again. Eventually I tried taking her for a walk in her stroller, but while this has always eventually worked in the past, even though it tends to produce only short naps, this time Mari didn't nap at all. At one point she seemed to be nodding off, but then she jerked her eyes open and wouldn't close them again.
Eventually, she had a nap earlier than her usual afternoon nap, but she wouldn't go down again later in the afternoon. So she was exhausted and overtired by her usual bedtime, and though I tried to put her down earlier than usual, she again had a screaming fit and didn't fall asleep until 8:35 -- more than an hour after her usual time.
On Monday, Mari was set to refuse her morning nap again, doing the same screaming trick. I took her for a walk again, and this time it worked -- she fell asleep in her stroller, albeit an hour later than her usual naptime. I was expecting it to be a short nap, but accepted that as being better than none. But Mari had another trick up her sleeve. She ended up napping for more than an hour and 45 minutes, during which time I had to keep walking the entire time, since I know from experience that even a brief stop -- i.e. to wait for a red light -- wakes her up. So it ended up being a more than two-hour walk in total, despite my inadequate footwear, lack of food or water, and pressing bladder needs. I walked to Waterloo and back twice, and all around the neighbourhood multiple times. A death march commanded by a little despot. And that afternoon her nap lasted only half an hour.
Yesterday, Mari fell asleep for her naps without too much fuss, but both were very short (about half an hour and 45 minutes respectively) and so she was overtired in the evening. I tried to get her down at 7:00, half an hour earlier than usual, but she screamed until 8:05, despite many efforts at soothing.
Today hasn't been so bad. She had decent naps, though not fantastic ones, and went down at night with only a minimum of fuss. Trouble is, I don't know what I did differently today from the other days. Sigh.
One thing, though, is that I'm starting to think Mari is having tantrums about being put down even though she's obviously tired and even though she no longer WANTS to be rocked or slept with. So when she screams like that, I feel at a complete loss. There's really nothing I can do to calm her down anymore except let her get up and play more, which only postpones the inevitable and makes the overtired fits worse in the end. It would be one thing to do that if I wasn't sure she was tired enough to go to sleep, but the last few days I've been sure she really is tired.
I am starting to rethink how much it's OK to let her cry/fuss. I still don't like the idea of letting her cry alone. But when she was younger, she seemed genuinely upset or afraid of being left alone. Now I'm starting to think it's more tantrum-type screaming, which I don't want to indulge. I think it's time to think more seriously about actual discipline -- not punishment, but deciding what we want to teach her and using consistent methods to teach those things. At nine months (tomorrow), Mari is no longer a little baby simply communicating her needs -- I think she's learning to manipulate.
Incidentally, I'm no longer going to count the days since I started the NCSS, which I've deviated from anyway.