Friday, October 31, 2014

Visitors From the Kids' Rooms

For the safety of everyone in the house, every family should have at least one light sleeper. That's what I tell myself anyway, to console myself about the fact that every slight thing causes me to wake up at night. There's no getting anything by me in the middle of the night. I'm aware when any of my children coughs, when the dishwasher completes its cycle, when the owl hoots in the woods out back, and when BJ's CPAP machine goes awry. I hear the padding of little feet on the carpet coming down the hallway long before I see the tiny-stature silhouette round the foot of the bed in the middle of the night. The nighttime hours see far more activity in our house than I would like for them to. I find myself amazed that none of these four beings with which I live--the baby, the toddler, the preschooler, and the adult man--ever seem to hear one another in the middle of the night though, as they each wake me with their individual little problems.

For instance, let's consider the sitch a few nights ago. It all began some time around 2AM when BJ, who admittedly assumes an entirely different personality in the middle of the night, ripped off his CPAP mask for no apparent reason. Guess he'd had enough air for one night. Pulling his mask off woke me up, so I woke him up and made him put his mask back on. BJ replaced the mask and within a second and a half was asleep again. Five minutes later as I was drifting back to sleep, I heard the wooden ladder of the boys' bunk bed creaking. In came Silas. A leg ache was on the menu, sadly. So, I created a pallet on the floor for Silas while I rubbed his feet and put socks on him, then tucked him tightly into covers to keep warm. Around this time I marveled about how I'd just spent the last 20 minutes being a caretaker to two people, neither of whom was ever aware of the other's awakening.

Silas drifted back to sleep and I was nearly back to the Land of Nod myself when I heard the pad-pad-pad of a two-year-old's gait. George came crawling into bed crying and explaining what sounded to me like nonsense. I gathered he had had a nightmare. He was inconsolable as the others slept, so I put him to bed between BJ and me while holding his hand. He stopped crying and then asked for "fresh water," so I got out of bed to get that for him. Minutes passed and it became quiet again before George announced he needed to pee-pee. Into the bathroom we both went. Then finally, finally, we all fell back to sleep.

Silas woke me about two hours later, crying because his leg pain woke him up again. This time I got him a graham cracker and told him to eat it while I rubbed his feet. Once he had finished, we got some Tylenol into his belly while I rubbed his foot some more. Then he needed water too, of course. We all fell asleep after this wish was fulfilled, and then an hour later he woke me to direct questions about a dream he apparently had as well ("Why was that tower walking?" What?). All in all, I was out of bed seven times that night and woke up several others just to correct things or console people from my place in bed. Ugh.

The following night's sleep was hijacked by Van, who is usually the one child I have that I can count on to not bother me at night. He woke suddenly at 1AM screaming, and after nursing him and then three attempts to put him back into his own crib, I finally gave up and collapsed into my own bed with him in arms. I woke an hour to find him sleeping soundly on my chest, so I tiptoed him into his nursery and ever-so-gently laid him into his crib. His eyes flew open immediately, and with an accusatory and panicked face he began wailing again. Thus, Van spent another two hours sleeping on my chest before I finally laid him down for good at 4AM. This was, of course, a Monday night before I had to work.

The child-between-us situation brings me to discuss this problem: When am I supposed to be rested enough to diligently return all children to their own rightful beds when they come padding into my room at night? I'll admit that part of me likes the snuggles; the majority of me wants more room to myself though, and could definitely do without the toddler sleep-time gymnastics illustrated here.

Credit Christoph Niemann in his hilarious compilation of visual blog posts entitled Abstract City. Perhaps my favorite read of 2014, this visual book had me rolling with laughter and musing the artist's creativity time and again. His caption for this piece: "Next up: a visitor from the kids' room. They start all sweet and cuddly, but their little bodies become more brazen by the minute."
They start each night in their own beds and sometimes they all stay there, but many nights George comes to our room between 4AM and 5AM, and I'm just too doggone tired to march him back to his room again and again. Occasionally, but not often, Silas will come in and ask me to set him up a pallet on the floor. They never go around to BJ's side, and I never feel awake enough to just say, "Buddy, let's trek it back to your bed" and then get the boy re-situated....if he doesn't throw a fit. Which leads to another problem: if a middle-of-the-night fit is thrown, how in the world is that fair to the other sleeping brother in the room? What do parents of room-sharing siblings do? Feedback welcome!

Two peas in a pod

In the words of Kathleen Kelly from You've Got Mail: "I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So goodnight, dear void." Dreaming of a king-sized bed in the meantime...

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