IMR: 2000: January: 12 — Wednesday, 10:12 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

Apparently there is a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan composed entirely of genetic midgets. How would have we learned anything about this great country without Jerry Springer?

Well, I'm not going to stick around for the inevitable brawl, as entertaining as that would be with this particular panel. Instead, back to CNN and a report on Elian Gonzales and the ongoing battle over his return to Cuba. Apparently a federal court has overruled a Florida judge's decree that he be held pending a hearing, and that was a no brainer. I mean, a state judge trying to stop a federal process? What the hell was she thinking?

"Why are Floridians so universally whacked?" I ask my wife, an Ocala girl.

And she replies with a sigh, "I don't know," for once not responding to such a comment with a pinch, punch or pout.

It's times like this that the sheer, blind egotism of the United States becomes painfully clear. It's absurd that we'd even consider separating a child from his father based simply on the misguided assumption that his quality of life would be terrible just because he'd be going home to someplace other than America.

Life in Cuba might not be all sunshine and candy canes, but hell, no one can say with a straight face that the U.S. — or Florida, in particular — is Heaven on Earth.

It's a simple matter of family and custody, horrendously mangled by politics and patriotism. An embarassing mess. Protesters waving signs and blocking traffic (and in one case, getting run down), members of Congress issuing hollow subpoenas, the press contrasting fresh footage of the kid playing with toys and a puppy in a park with muddy, recycled shots of his dad sulking in his dimly-lit den...

And as stupid as they look, everyone has something to gain by jumping blindly into the fray, except the boy and his dad.

That's it. Elian Gonzales' rabid "supporters" hereby join Jessie Jackson as nominees for the "1999-2000 Incredibly Daft American Award," both earning special merit from trying to squeeze political points out of a ludicrous, losing case.

Katie is asleep. In our room. But her angelic, smiling little face is the symbol of a terrible and disheartening truth: Jen and I lost The Battle of the Bed.

Yes, barely two weeks into the new millennium, darling Katie and her noble parents descended into the greatest parental war in the history of our young household, and only three days later, the littlest warrior — armed merely with her little voice and a bottomless store of stubborn energy — emerged triumphant.

See, ever since Katie outgrew her tiny bassinet at the tender young age of two months, she's been sleeping with us. Part of it is the whole progressive, new-agey "family bed" thing we'd read about in magazines, part of it was because we didn't have a crib, and part of it was sheer laziness (getting either of us out of bed in the dead of night is damn near impossible).

In any case, apart from the odd kick in the face, it was a pleasant, cuddly, loving little "temporary" arrangement. We were in no hurry to evict her, despite occasional flashes of claustrophobia and selfishness. I'm still convinced the way we're raising Katie has made her one of the happiest, most confident, most trusting little girls on the planet.

Spoiled rotten, yeah, but really happy.

But, with her second birthday two weeks away, Jen and I decided last week it was about time to make some solid steps toward looming toddler milestones.

Potty traning has been high on my list ever since diapers cleared 30 cents a piece. Though she's brestfeeding less and less, with doctors and specialists saying she'd eventually stop on her own, we also figured we should just wean her completely. And most of all, Jen and I figured it was high time Katie actually started sleeping in her own room.

You know, the second bedroom? The whole reason we suddenly moved to this unit last year and started paying $150 more in rent?

We launched our campaign on Sunday night. Believe it or not, it went okay. We put Katie in her bed, and she shrieked and hollered for about an hour (occasionally leaping out and running to the far end of the living room), but eventually Jen and I got her down and read her various books over and over and over and over until she passed out.

She woke up shortly after midnight, and screamed some more, but again we got her asleep in her own bed.

She woke up again at about 2 a.m., and by that time Jen and I were long gone, so we mumbled, "That's enough progress for one night," and let her wobble into our room and climb into bed with us. Jen, with her will of steel, refused to let her nurse despite her cries, and eventually, finally, she passed out once more.

Somehow we ended up losing a little more ground before sunrise, probably due to Jen's half-unconscious instincts. When I dragged myself out of bed, Katie was nursing away.

And we never rebounded. We returned to the battlefield Monday night, and Katie had apparently rallied more internal firepower. She screamed even longer and with even more force, despite the fact that the previous night's contest had left her hoarse. And she refused to even consider lying in her bed until nearly 11 p.m.

After finally getting her asleep, she merely napped for an hour or so, and was quickly back at the foot of our bed, howling.

Again, I don't remember what happened after that, but suffice it to say, I woke up yesterday morning to find Katie dozing besides Jen with a content grin on her face, triumphantly clutching Jen's shirt the same way a fisherman holds up the catch of the day.

And last night? I barely want to talk about it. Not only was Katie ready with the toddler equivalent of an aircraft carrier, but it was as if she also introduced some secret psychological weaponry. She was still going strong at midnight, but more telling, Jen and I were more furious at eachother than Katie was at us.

"I surrender," I said.

And eventually, Jen did as well.

We were depressed. But we were also very grateful to have at least half a peacful night's sleep. Tonight we didn't even think twice before sliding back into our long-established routine. It might mean we're wimps, but we're comfortable, well rested wimps. And who can argue with that?

Not that we won't try again someday, of course. A guy's nose can take only so many toes.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 12 January 2000 · Last Modified: 30 January 2000