June 26, 2006

Sleepless

Bedtime for Matthew has become an issue.

A usual evening begins at 9 PM. We get him changed, teeth brushed, story read, kiss mommy goodnight, in bed, fetch cold water in a sippy cup, lights out.

Five minutes later, the stalling begins. First he has to go to the bathroom (which he knows we really can't deny him, having just been potty trained). Then, every 5-15 minutes he'll open his door, peek out, ask for something else, or try to shut the cat in his room and play with it. This goes on for hours, sometimes past midnight.

He gets enough sleep. He wakes just before 8 AM every morning, hardly ever takes naps, so he should be good and sleepy around 9:30 (which is later than most parents let their 4 year-olds stay up).

The last couple of hours in the day are Melissa and my private time, where we can talk about stuff without interruption, watch movies, etc, and this has been taken from us. That's SANITY TIME, and it has been denied us for weeks straight, and for months sporadically.

Last night, I put Matthew to bed without TOO much fuss. And he STAYED there. We didn't hear a peep out of him all night. Melissa and I hardly knew what to do with ourselves. She would have done the Balki Bartokomous Dance of Joy, had her neck not been ot of whack. "A Reprieve! Thank you, Lord!" we called to the heavens.

Not Bloody Likely.

2:30 AM - Matthew wakes up, calling me. He had a bad dream and wants to sleep in our bed. I ask him what his dream was about, and he falls back asleep two sentances into the description. Crisis averted.

3:30 AM - Matthew wakes again, another bad dream, insisting on sleeping between us. The description trick doesn't work twice. I grudgingly let him into our bed. Now before you pass judgement, let me say that TV sitcoms and movies didn't prepare me for this one. Kids on sitcoms might say one quippy phrase or two before nodding off, and it's all "Awwww, how cute!"

Matthew, on the other hand, spins in the bed, appendages flailing like Chun Li from Street Fighter II, poking and thwacking any face or groin that happens to be nearby. Plus he generates so much heat that he sleeps with no covers, while Mel and I need them. So the comforter top bends like the letter "M". And sometimes he has trouble getting back to sleep, so he fidgets around, just wiggling and poking and tickling any bit of Mommy or Daddy that he happens to find. And you don't want to tickle a sleepy black belt awake, TRUST ME. It won't end well.

5:30 - Mel and I are sick of being woken every 20 minutes, so we send him back into his bed and shut the door. He fusses for 10 minutes and finally accepts his fate. Ahh, I can still get two hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep.

6:30 AM - NOT. Matthew calls me back to his room. He's fully awake and reading the kind of children's books with push-button sounds. Only this one has a run-down battery, so the sounds are all slow and distorted, as if to maximize the mommy wake-up potential. A brief, heated chat ensues about the difference between it being slightly light outside and it being morning proper. I leave again, seized book in hand, and return to bed. I can still get one hour.

6:55 AM - NOT. Stormy, the only cat I've ever known to have the "Morning Crazies", suddenly tears across our dresser, scattering paperwork and phone chargers as he goes. I put him out of the bedroom and close the door.

7:12 AM - The door swings open under cat power. Swear to God that the little F***er leapt into it and turned the handle. He flew in, so I make him fly out, and close the door securely.

7:25 AM - Alarm Clock... SNOOZE

7:31 AM - Give up and get out of bed. Matthew's rearing to go. I fix him breakfast, take a shower, and set up to work the first few hours from home so Mel can get a bit more sleep.

Mel and I are beyond grumpy, while Matthew is all perky from a full night's rest. I feel like we're back to having a newborn with 2-hour round-the-clock feedings. Chris doesn't handle sleep deprivation very well. Not even in small doses. He starts by talking about himself in the third person. Last time it continued for more than three days, we found those mutilated squirrels outside the dorm.

I know some parents swear by the "Children's Tylenol Lullabye" for antsy children, but does anyone know where I can get some horse tranquilizers?

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm....Seems that every parent experiences this particular type of torture at least once in their lives. Once, Ian was particularly crafty with the bedtime stallings, and he is only 2 1/2 years old! I remember a time when Ian would cry, "Mommy, Daddy! I 'cared". Translation: "Mommy, Daddy! I'm scared". We would go to his room, pat him on the back, tell him to close his eyes, and all would seem well. Ten minutes later, "Mommy, Daddy! Help!" We ran to the bedroom, fearing that he had somehow devised a noose out of his window shade, when, in fact, he had actually spotted a dead ladybug in the windowsill, (in pitch-black darkness, of course), and was pointing at it while flailing his arms in a baby panic attack. We removed the dead bug, told him to close his eyes, and left the room. Ten minutes later, we heard unabated fearful crying, "Mah------my! (Sob, sob, sob), Da------ddy!" he wailed. We rushed to the room again. As we walked in, Ian immediately stopped crying. He said, "Sing me, Mommy". Translation: "Sing to me, Mommy." So, I sang to him our traditional "Night, night Ian" song, and he turned over and closed his eyes. Ten minutes later......more banshee screaming and crying. Jim looked at me, and I looked at Jim. We never went back to see what Ian wanted. The next day, we purchased a VIDEO monitor, and after "lights-out" at 9:00 PM, if Ian cried or screamed, we flipped on our infra-red video monitor to make sure that he hadn't fallen out of the bed and broken a limb, or climbed on top of any furniture with no means of escape. If all was well, (and it always was), we let him scream. The first night, he screamed for one hour. The second night, 45 minutes. The third night, 30 minutes. Finally, at the end of a work week, he was finally back to the "normal sleeping Ian" that we loved and adored. That was probably the best $145 that I have ever spent. It has since paid for 6 months of wonderful, peaceful nights.

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  2. Hi, I read your blog via the LiveJournal feed--I was wondering if I left comments on LiveJournal if they go to you. I know Rit set up the feed, and wasn't sure if comments would still go to his email addy. Oftentimes I think of adding a comment to the LJ post, but then didn't know if you'd actually receive it.

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