Let it be known that if you are putting Youngest to bed, you must not, under any circumstances, disturb the Blanket Order.
To anyone other than Youngest, the Blanket Order is a complex and seemingly arbitrary set of rules that specify when and how each of her sixteen-thousand blankets should be utilized. It is as follows:
Big Pooh is folded in thirds and goes over the back and seat of the rocking chair. Little Pooh is folded in half and goes over Big Pooh on the back of the rocker ONLY. Shawl is used to wrap Youngest during nighttime rocking. At the conclusion of rocking, Shawl is placed over Little Pooh. Shawl is a Rocking Blanket should NEVER be used for sleeping purposes. Once Youngest is transferred to her crib for tucking, Blanket Bears must drape over the side of the crib facing her nightlight, blocking out all light and negating any effects of having the nightlight on at all (but the nightlight MUST be on). Fuzzy is then placed over her and tucked in between the edges of the mattress and crib rails. NO OTHER BLANKETS, TOYS, ETC. ARE PERMITTED WITHIN THE CRIB.
Really, as long as you don't touch the blankets at all during the day, it's fairly simple to follow. And we all recognize the obsessive compulsiveness as a developmental stage necessary to Youngest gaining a sense of mastery and control over her environment.
Something happened recently that interfered with the Blanket Order and almost caused a bedtime catastrophe and the collapse of our household as we knew it.
Youngest peed on Fuzzy.
It wasn't her fault. I put her down for a nap without realizing she was wearing underpants instead of a diaper.
I took Fuzzy and her sheets down to the laundry room, intending to run the load later that afternoon. Then I promptly forgot all about it until bedtime.
I knew Fuzzy was going to be a problem, so we took it slow. We talked it out, weighing the pros and cons of sleeping with a wet, smelly pee blanket. She decided that Shawl would do as a temporary Sleeping Blanket until the return of Fuzzy.
But little did I know that sheets also factored into the Blanket Order.
I pulled out the crib sheet that matched Blanket Bears, riddled with pastel little teddy bears, and stretched it over her mattress as Youngest watched suspiciously.
"What that?" she asked.
"It's your new, fresh sheet!" I declared. I thought this would put me on her good side, since she's just emerged from a fixation on fresh sheets that had her demanding "new fwesh sheets" every single night.
"But I want my Pooh sheets!"
"Well this is your Blanket Bear sheet. It matches, see? Pooh sheets have pee on them like Fuzzy."
"But…I don't want Bear sheets!"
She protested a few more times, but I sidestepped and suggested a story to see if avoiding the issue would resolve it.
So we entered the ritual. We wrapped in Shawl. We sat on the Pooh blankets and rocked. We read. We talked about our day. Then I carried her over to her bed and started to lower her onto the Bear sheets.
When she looked down, she screamed and planted her feet on the rail, clawing her way up onto my shoulders like a cat about to be dropped into a swimming pool. "NO! I don't WANT the Bear sheets! Get them off!"
I saw then that there was no way to pretend I was in control here. I rummaged through her closet and located another Pooh sheet while Youngest sat on the floor with tears in her eyes telling me that she hated the Bear sheets and didn't want them in her bed.
When she finally settled down with Shawl tucked around her, I staggered out of her room and sank down on the couch beside Husband who had just kissed Oldest goodnight.
"Rain Man's having a rough night," I explained.
"At least she didn't make you drive to K-Mart for new underwear, too."
"Yeah. 400 Oak Street."