Falling asleep after 'reading' in bed

I am no stranger to temper tantrums….my kid is 3.  It’s like their job at 3 is to spill any liquid you give them, make hysterically funny faces and throw temper tantrums and my son excels at all 3.


But last night he threw a different kind of fit that was just so different…


Like many other kids his age, he is starting to give up his afternoon nap, but like many other kids his age he seems to still NEEDS a nap to make it through the afternoon.  And like many other parents of kids his age, I am trying to enforce “quiet time” in the afternoon during the baby’s nap, so everyone gets a little break.  Some days he still falls asleep, some days he plays quietly in his bed, some days (ok most days) he comes out 437 times to ask if his nap is over and on very desperate days, I let him watch a cartoon in his bed on the iPad.  Usually everyone is up by 3:30 or 4pm.  But yesterday, after playing in is room (and coming out about 253 times), I noticed he was laying still at about 4pm….had he actually fallen asleep?


So then enter the perpetual parent question; let him sleep because clearly he needs it, or wake him up because it is getting awfully close to bedtime.  I let him sleep for about 45 minutes and when my husband got home, we woke him up.


Enter the tantrum


He woke up sweaty and confused (I think falling asleep probably surprised him as much as me) and he started crying.  This is normal for him, as he takes a little while to ‘wake up’.  But usually a cartoon and some milk will snap him out of it.


But last night it didn’t.


He sat on my lap and cried and whimpered and kicked his legs, despite two adults trying to snap him out of it.


“do you want a snack?”

“do you have to go potty?”

“do you want a different cartoon?”


He now was close to hysterical, twitching and convulsing and sobbing


“are you hurt?”

“are you sick?”

“can you use your words?”


He would go completely boneless and slide off my lap on to a heap on the floor then stand up screaming with outstretched arms to be picked up, like I had pushed him off my lap.


Ok, this was getting ridiculous


“you need to stop crying”

“you need to get it together, bud”

“I’m going to go in the other room if you are going to cry”

“you can go cry in your room if you can’t stop”


But he couldn’t


He was so upset. And neither parent could figure out why or knew what to do about it.  Under our breath we debated parenting tactics “should we send him to his room?” “do you think his leg is asleep?” “ask him about his playdate today” “get him some chocolate”


At the 30-minute mark we tried good cop/bad cop, as I left the room and went to start dinner and would not respond to his cries for me to come back.  My husband tried to comfort him with back scratches and funny faces.


To no avail, he was dripping in sweat, sobbing with almost no sound coming out (but enough to give both of his parents a huge headache!)


So my husband went and put him in his room and told him he could come out when he stopped crying.


(Oh, did I mention the baby was totally crying at this point too??)


He sort of calmed down as I was putting dinner on the table.  I wasn’t even going to bother trying to get him to try the dinner I had made, so I made his favorite meatballs and carrot sticks with ranch, a dinner he normally can’t refuse.


He came out of his room and lost it again;


“I DON’T LIKE MEATBALLS” he collapsed in a sobbing heap on the floor.


I looked at my husband and we both were completely lost.  We couldn’t even be mad (ok, maybe a little mad) but he just seemed so upset and so out of sorts.


“how about some noodles?”


“uh” sob “huh” sob


I warmed up some left over penne pasta and set it down in front of him.  AND….

1 full hour after we woke him from his nap, he stopped crying and ate his noodles and told his dad about the bouncy house place we went earlier in the day….


And that was it.  The rest of the evening he was delightful and cooperative.


So, what did we do wrong??  What would you have done?


This morning, during preschool drop-off, one of the other children wanted her mom to come see the game she had set up in the other room.  Her mom told her ‘just one minute’ and the little girl lost it, sobbing and collapsed on the floor.


And I breathed a sigh of relief.


I guess it is just 3 year olds excelling at their jobs