What Your Toddler's Trying To Tell You When They Say They're "Not Sleepy"

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Some phrases are dangerous. For example, if someone says "I'm fine" after an argument with their partner, that's dangerous. If a Southern girl just stares at you and says "Bless your heart" that's dangerous (look it up). But perhaps the most dangerous phrase of all is when a toddler look up at you with their big shiny eyes and says, "I'm not sleepy." Why, you ask? Well, because what toddlers mean when they say they're not sleepy is never, ever going to turn out well for you.

My 3-year-old daughter has this really hilarious habit. At about 8:15 p.m., after two stories, kisses, cuddles, and tucking her into bed, she waits for me to go downstairs to (finally) sit after a long day and then toddles out of her bed and giggles. I ask, "Why are you up?" and she responds, saying, "I have to go potty!" That's how she buys five minutes, you guys. Most of the time she doesn't pee.So she goes back to bed, I come back down, and she toddles back out. "Why are you up?" "I have to poop." Another five minutes, people. Most of the time she doesn't poop.

Repeat with any number of stupid excuses (including just giggling and running back to her bed) until she finally just plops down at the top of the stairs, starts crying, and says "I'm not sleepy!"

See? Like I said, hilarious! So very, very hilarious. So hilarious, in fact, that I'm rocking back and forth a little just thinking about the fact that I will inevitably have to deal with this crap tonight. Again. And probably forever, because this is what my daughter actually means when she says she's not sleepy:

"I Am Exhausted"

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The louder your kid screams that they're not tried, the more tired they absolutely are. It' the classic "the baby doth protest too much, methinks." They don't know they're lying — they're like a little drunk person who wants to text an ex and yells at you when you take their phone away. They are incapable of understanding what's going on or working in their best interest, just as they are incapable of cooperating with you as you try to work in their best interest.

"This Is Not Going To Be Fun Or Easy For You"

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"OK, mother, if you insist on playing with me then let the games begin. I will crush you. I will scream and kick and cry. I will make you angry, guilty, sad, and exhausted. I will wear your soul down to the smallest atom of humanity and then I'll set that atom on fire and crush its ashes beneath my booties. I pity you not, for you have brought this upon yourself."

"Things Are About To Get Really Loud"

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When I was a kid, I remember seeing an illustrated decibel chart. It showed how many decibels something was and what familiar sounds matched up with whichever level was being discussed. At 125 decibels (a particularly loud stadium concert), humans can begin to experience pain. 140 decibels (jet engine take off) or higher can cause irreversible damage. The highest item on the chart I was looking at was a rocket launch at about 200 decibels. Well, somewhere beyond 200 is a toddler who's "not sleepy" and doesn't want to go to bed. Their wails carry through windows and walls. Your neighbors will hate you. You will hate everything.

"What I Am Doing Now Is Extremely Fun And/Or Important"

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"Mommy, I don't care what the clock says. I'm having a tea party with my bear, a dinosaur, and Barbie. Do you know how hard it is to get dinosaur and bear in a room together? This is huge, and clearly you have no idea. And I spent hours laboring over a hot play-kitchen stove to make all this food made of blocks. How dare you tell me it's time to go to bed because 'I'm tired.' The chutzpah on you!"

"I Am Running On Spite And Rage Right Now"

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Whatever rage and resentment you feel over the situation, your child (somehow!) feels more. How? I have no idea, but their deep-seeded loathing is what's fueling them through their exhaustion. It is taking their weak, weary little bodies and infusing them with Hulk-like strength. I do not have the data to back this up, but I'll bet a tired enough toddler could lift a Mini-Cooper over their head if they were sleepy enough.

"Have You Ever Seen 'The Exorcist'? You're About To"

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In fact, the classic horror film about a little girl being possessed by the Devil himself is going to look like a lighthearted romp compared to your toddler's freak out.

"This Will Not End Without One Or Both Of Us Crying"

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It's pretty obvious that your toddler is going to cry when they're "not tired" at bedtime. It doesn't take all that much to make your toddler cry: they're tired, they're "not tired," they're hungry, the wrong episode of Puffin Rock came on, their cereal is broken (yeah, I don't know what it means, either). But what's lesser known is that, often, you're going to start crying to because they are going to push you to your damn limit. That's why I, for one, feel that it's probably a good idea to wash your face and take off your makeup before your toddler's bedtime. You're probably going to weep hot tears of frustration and desperation and you don't want to look like early Avril Lavigne circa 2001.

"I Have Hardcore FOMO"

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FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.

"But are you going to bed? What are you going to be doing? What if I also want to do that? I do not want to learn of your gloriously fun hijinks on Instagram again. I want to be a part of it. I may be tired, madam, but not so tired as to miss out on whatever it is you have planned for the rest of the evening. No, I think I'll stay with you, sucking the marrow out of life and sounding my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. Oh, you're going to sit here and bang out a couple episodes of The Wire? Cool, I can do that, too. I really don't care what you want to do, because I'm not going to miss out."

"I Feel Like Being Difficult Just For The Hell Of It, LOL!"

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Toddlers make everything else into a game so, you know, why not this?

On a related note: is there anything more frustrating that listening to your child giggle as they run out of their room for the 67th time that night?

"I Am Protesting Your Tyrannical Bedtime Rules"

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You can basically hear them bust into their toddler rendition of "Do You Hear The People Sing" from Les Mis. It's all very personal, according to them. You're not telling them to go to bed because of the numerous articles you've read about children needing sufficient sleep, or because their pediatrician suggested a 7:30 p.m. bedtime, or because you know your child and you can see that they're very, very sleepy. You're doing this to perpetuate a system to keep them oppressed. You're a fascist!

"But Seriously, I'm Not Tired And It's Not My Fault That You Are"

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If we're being honest, we have to collectively admit that sometimes they aren't tired, but we just really need them to go the f*ck to sleep because we're just done for the day. It's annoying when they can call us out on it, but I also sort of respect them for being able to identify bullsh*t like that.

"I Am Either Going To Pass Out In 10 Seconds Or I'll Keep Running Out Of My Room Until It's Your Bedtime"

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"OK, I'll be in my room, or yours! Ha! OMG, look at your face. You don't know! You don't know at all. Anyway, good night! Well, eventually! Can't wait to do this tomorrow!"

You just never know. And, in a way, isn't that the most exciting part about having kids? Never knowing what's going to happen next? And by "exciting" I of course mean "frustrating" and by "part about having kids" I mean "aspect of parenting everyone conveniently leaves off Instagram."