We're on location again today, in the dormitory of a lovely Swiss Chalet in the Alps. I'm joined by fellow mother and blogger, Jennifer (aka Binky Bitch) from Playgroups are No Place For Children, and of course our expert panelists to discuss why it is exactly that children refuse to sleep even when they know it's good for them.
Me: Welcome, everyone, thank you so much for coming. Jennifer, I'm especially happy to have you with us, because I really think that your theories on children's sleep habits are revolutionary. Everyone, this is Jennifer, Jennifer, everyone.
Jennifer: I'm so glad you could all make it, although I'm really confused as to how THIS particular panel got assembled. This should be a really interesting discussion of children's sleep issues. Um, excuse me, is someone snoring?
The panel looks over towards Ron Jeremy, who has fallen asleep and is snoring loudly.
Mommy Dearest: Wake UP you FOOL! I could have you FIRED! I CAN'T BELIEVE how, how, how inept you are!
Jennifer: Whoa there, Mommy Dearest, I think you're being a little harsh...Me: I don't know Jennifer, I mean, look at him, he's not exactly America's sweetheart anymore.
Ron Jeremy slumps over onto Mommy Dearest's shoulder, then grunts loudly and sits up.
Ron Jeremy: Geez, Lady. I can't help it. I just fall asleep sometimes, ya know! I'm what they call a "narcoleptic."
Dr. Phil: You need to listen to your body, Ron, because your body is listening to you.
Jennifer: Let's begin our discussion of children and sleep, shall we? I suppose we could start with our youngest panel member, Maggie Simpson, and ask her what we as parents can do to ensure that our children are good sleepers.
So Ms. Simpson, what can we do to get our children to sleep, and more importantly, how can we get them to be better sleepers?
Maggie Simpson takes her binky out of her mouth for a moment. Everyone leans forward to hear what she is going to say, but then she sucks her binky back in and stares at Jennifer defiantly.
Jennifer: Am I going to have to take away your binky, 'cause I will? I'm THE Binky Bitch. We could really use your insight since you're a, you know, CHILD.
Me: Oh come on, she's just a baby.
Mommy Dearest: (shrieking) JUST a baby? I know a thing or two about babies, let me tell you-
Maggie Simpson continues to suck on her binky, and crawls over to Mommy Dearest's lap and yawns. Suddenly there's a loud thunk, as Ron Jeremy's head smacks the table.
Mommy Dearest: What is this CHILD doing on me? Where is your Nanny little girl? For crying out loud, can someone please get this child AWAY from me? NOW!
Jennifer: You do realize, don't you, that this discussion is being recorded, Ms. Dearest? May I call you that, Ms. Dearest?
Mommy Dearest: What? This is being recorded? Oh my, well! Look at who I have on my lap! What a sweet, darling baby! Is this a boy or a girl child? And, Jennifer, no, you may NOT call me Ms. Dearest. I prefer being called the full name, Mommy Dearest. You can say that can't you, darling?
Jennifer: Well, sure, I guess.
Mommy Dearest. You guess, Mommy Dearest?
Jennifer: I guess so, MOMMY DEAREST. Alright, where were we again? Oh right. Children's sleep habits. Dr. Phil? Do you have any words of advice or suggestions for parents having difficulty getting their children to bed at night and to take naps during the day? I mean, there is so much advice out there about this subject, it's so hard to make a decision about what method you're going to use as a parent.
Ron Jeremy continues to snore, Mommy Dearest has a wide smile plastered on her face and her eyes have glazed over like that of a mannequin as she vigorously bounces Maggie Simpson on her lap.
Dr. Phil: Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.
Mommy Dearest: Young man, as a parent I must tell you, there is only one right decision. Mine!
Maggie hits me in the forehead with her binky, then looks at me with wide eyes. The entire panel is silent while Jennifer automatically gets up and hands Maggie back her binky.
Me: ...I'd like to know more about your book, Jennifer, what insight can you offer in parent's eternal quest for infant and toddler nap-time?
Jennifer: My insight?! Well after LOTS and LOTS of illegitimate research, I've found that children will sleep whenever they want for however long they want. I've also learned that children use sleep as a weapon against their parents. I have lots of illegitimate research to prove this.
Dr. Phil: Awareness without action is worthless.
Each member of the panel rolls their eyes. Maggie takes her binky back out of her mouth, crawls over to Dr. Phil and begins to thump him on the head with it.
Jennifer: Maggie! I JUST put that damn binky back in your mouth! Ugh. I'm tired of being YOUR binky bitch, kid.
Dr. Phil: Anger is nothing more than an outward expression of hurt, fear and frustration.
Jennifer: Shut up, Dr. Phil.
Me: Could we just get back to the discussion?
He passes out again. Mommy Dearest pokes him in the side, harder and harder until he tips out of his chair and lands on the floor.
Me: Look at 'im, sleeping like a baby. Or not, actually, why do people even say that?
Dr. Phil: The most you get is what you ask for.
Dr. Phil stands and carries Maggie back to Mommy Dearest who looks as if she's just had a dead rat set on her lap. Holding Maggie on her knee, as far away from herself as possible, she jiggles her.
Me: Here's my problem now, I mean, I can get my girls to go to sleep, usually, but when they're tired at five o'clock and I'm trying to get dinner ready and I want to keep them awake, it's useless.
Jennifer: See! See! The children use sleep as a WEAPON! A weapon I tell, ya!Me: That is so true. It's just like the potty... Weapons, life is a weapon in their little hands, curse them....
I start mumbling under my breath about infants with swords - they're everywhere! Jennifer throws a spare binky at me. I snap out of it.
Me: Thanks, I needed that.
Jennifer: No problem, chica. I got your back.
Me: Ok, I know I'm not one of the experts here today, but I have a sleep story, that, I mean, do you guys mind if I...Mommy Dearest: Damn straight you are no expert! You don't even look old enough to have children! Although I myself look YEARS younger than my biological age.
Dr. Phil: We teach people how to treat us.
Jennifer: I'm going to shove a binky in your pie hole, Dr. Phil, if you don't be quiet. Seriously.
Me: Ok so, before I had kids, I did a lot of babysitting and, um...
Mommy Dearest is shaking Maggie back and forth absent-mindedly.Me: Hey! You can't do that to a baby. Put her down!
Mommy Dearest: Oh, this old thing?
She drops Maggie on top of the still sleeping Ron Jeremy and Maggie crawls under the table. Jennifer checks on her. She's okay.Jennifer: I do know that if we aren't careful, Maggie is going to get overtired and never fall asleep again. Ever. There's nothing worse than an overtired baby. Trust me. I have more illegitimate research proving this theory.
Me: Why don't you share your research findings with us, that should be helpful, don't you think everyone?
Mommy Dearest: I think that nannies are responsible for the rearing of children. Why don't you have nannies doing this peasant work for you?!
Mommy Dearest looks down her nose at Jennifer and I with disdain. Ron Jeremy awakens for a moment under the table and looks under Jennifer's dress.
Ron Jeremy: Hey lady, did you realize you haven't shaved your legs in a loooooong time. Dude! That hair is nearly long enough to braid. And those granny panties! Ew, you need to get yourself some thongs. Bow chanka bow, bow.
Jennifer: kicking Ron with the heel of her shoe...What are you doing, you perv?! Stop looking under my dress!
Ron Jeremy: I can't help that I landed on the floor when I fell asleep. See? I have his condition called "narcolepsy."
The entire panel: We know, Ron. You already told us.
Dr. Phil: You cannot be who and what you are unless you have a lifestyle, both internally and externally, that is designed to support that definition of self.
Jennifer puts a binky in Dr. Phil's mouth to shut him up.
Me: Thank you, Jennifer. He was really getting on my nerves.
Jennifer: This panel is beginning to feel really out of control.Me: Welcome to my life. Where the experts are idiots - except for you of course - and there's no one in charge.
Mommy Dearest: GET. HIM. OFF. OF. ME.
Dr. Phil attempts to say something, but is unable to say anything with the binky in his mouth. Ron Jeremy falls asleep with his head resting on Mommy Dearest's shoulder.
Maggie gives her binky to Ron Jeremy, who again hits his head on the table as he falls to floor. This time the rest of barely even notice.
Jennifer: Uh, does anyone want to hear about my theories, or what? I have things I could be doing right now, like vacuuming or starting dinner.
Ron Jeremy: suddenly awake...Or shaving your legs.
Me: Ron, that's enough. Jennifer, please, tell us about your sleep theories. I'm anxious to hear what you have to say.
Jennifer: Thank you, Nell. As I was saying--
Mommy Dearest has suddenly gone into a rage. We can see that Ron Jeremy is under the table, no longer asleep, and licking Mommy Dearest's ankles.
Ron Jeremy: I'd like to be beneath you--
Mommy Dearest: Get my coat. I said, GET MY COAT. NOW.
Dr. Phil hurries to get Mommy Dearest's coat out of the closet, still sucking on the binky.
Mommy Dearest: My coat wasn't hung on a WIRE HANGER! NO! That is NOT a wire hanger.
Jennifer: Yeah, so what? It's a wire hanger. That's all this Swiss Chalet had in the closet.
Mommy Dearest: NO! MORE! WIRE HANGERS!!!
Dr. Phil cowers in fear and sucks vigorously on the binky.
Jennifer: Um, I have to go...
Me: I know, I know, hold on.
Ron stands and shakes my hand, suddenly all professional.
Ron Jeremy: It's always a pleasure to meet a fan.
Me: Um, Mr. Jeremy, I've never actually, I mean, I've seen Orgazmo, but-
He passes out. (He must have a really bad case of narcolepsy. How does he live?)
Mommy Dearest and Dr. Phil are making out in the coat closet, so Jennifer and I hug and say goodbye.
Me: Thanks again for coming Jennifer, it was really great working with you. I'd still like to hear about your theories some time.
Jennifer: Yeah, well, maybe some time. You could always read my blog. I'm always spewing my theories there, where people actually listen to me. Nell, I have to say, I never took you as a Ron Jeremy fan. I guess you learn something new everyday.
Me: But I'm not! I mean, Orgazmo's not, it's just a- a- oh never mind. Thanks for coming.
The "experts" make an appearance at meanwhile every two weeks.
If you have suggestions for a panel topic or panel member, email me at nell.meanwhile[at]gmail[dot]com.
To read the transcripts of past panel discussions, click here.
Next time on Ask the Experts: Eating What They Want, When They Want.