So now I do what a zillion moms all over the earth do--I have her play quietly in her room for Quiet Time. I don't know why this seemed so radical a solution to me. I've set up a lego doll house on a small table and against one wall of the room she's organized a virtual doll dorm, all the babies lined up in their beds. She's got her lacing cards in there and some magnetic paper doll style things made of wood instead of paper and she can play with whatever she likes as long as she stays in her room. Some days she plays the whole time and doesn't sleep. Other days she plays a while and then climbs up on her bed and takes a long nap. Yesterday when I went to peek I found her asleep inside her laundry hamper turned over on its side on the floor, only her feet sticking out.
The other issue has been bedtime. Oh my goodness does she delay and delay, offering deals and pleading and sometimes refusing outright. When she does get in bed finally, we can expect to see her downstairs several times after. I count on time after bed to be able to straighten up the house and do the dishes and hang out with Mitch and clear my brain with knitting and bad tv while he works. Mitch asked his sister-in-law (who often has brilliant but simple solutions to our kid problems) what we should do about Frances' not wanting to go to sleep and she said, "let her stay up later. Or get her up earlier." Well.
Oh the logic that defies me. At first her solution seemed comical in its obviousness, and I thought it didn't help at all. But when I thought about it, it seemed clear this is all connected to her nap. I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me before. She'd already been telling me she didn't want to nap any more.
The result is that I've given up trying to control her sleep, and I let her control it instead. I feel completely relieved that I no longer have to take responsibility for it, and she feels freed from sleep captivity. She plays in her room for quiet time and decides if she's tired enough to sleep. If she does sleep, we let her stay up later at bedtime (because there's no point at all in putting her down earlier...) though she has to spend the last bit of that time playing quietly so the adults can get their adult work done. If she doesn't nap we put her to bed earlier because if we don't she melts into a whining crying puddle. And since I've started this, I'd say she ends up napping 4 of 5 days.
This is a rather long post for what seems to most obvious of problems and solutions. The reason I'm writing about it is that it hasn't struck me as obvious at all. Instead, to me it feels radical. It's really challenged the way I think about my parenting, the role I pay as parent, what is in my control and what isn't (what should be and what shouldn't). It's been a big thing in her life too I think--made her think differently about the control she has over her own world. The result is that our power struggles have diminished a lot. Thank goodness.