It is 10:23 AM and my 11 year-old son is sleeping upstairs, that good sleep, his mouth agog, his conscious mind resistant to any barging through the door, stomping through the room, opening the curtains to the world parent intrusions, his limbs growing by the minute as he restfully whiles away the summer morning hours in tweener dormancy. It is summer and his camp does not begin until 12:30 so he has plenty of time, but the real issue is that he has trouble going to sleep at night, especially when he sleeps so late in the morning, he can go to 11 or 12 if I let him sometimes. His serene slumbering pose is in direct contrast to the tossing, turning, and frustrated tears at 1 AM in the morning when he cannot get to sleep and he shows up at our bedroom door asking what he should do. Last night he turned on his light an hour or so after laying down and read books until midnight when he turned off his reading lamp again. I said goodnight to him at 1, and he seemed tired. I know I am tired of staying up because I feel bad leaving him up by himself and now my lack of sleep is catching up to me as my day starts at 8. 7 hours last night is pretty good compared to most of this week, but then again he was still awake when I went to sleep which always leaves me a little unsettled. Remembering this I regret that I did not wake him earlier, but when I went in the room he looked so peaceful that I could not get myself beyond some mild rousing that I knew would probably not work. His doctor says he is a night person, that we shouldn’t worry about his lifelong problems going to sleep. Or waking up problems, depending on how you look at it. A boy needs his sleep, that much seems clear to me as I return downstairs and let him lie… but tonight I will probably regret it, any advice out there? Would you wake him up?
What did your parents do? I remember my own mom yelling at me from downstairs at regular loud intervals of maybe three or four minutes. I hated her in those moments as I resisted re-entering the world at her prodding.
He woke up himself at 10:35, hooray! I am off the hook for today… 10:35, still a little late but his doctor would be happy as he always says the correct time a child should sleep is until they wake up on their own. Fat chance during the schoolyear, but he got his beauty sleep on this July day!
Returning to one of the most crabby inducing issues of parenting, nighttime with little ones… Thing Number 3, my three year old boy, is still sleeping with us every night and we should probably be doing something about it. Things start off very well for him in terms of going to sleep as he does go down pretty efficiently in his own room in his own bed while I sit next to him in a rocking chair. My son is very affectionate and doles out many hugs and kisses before lying down with an endearing smile playing out over his face as he snuggles with his pillow. I don’t mind sitting there so much because he’s usually asleep within ten or fifteen minutes and a few years ago I made the excellent investment of buying a booklight and discovered that this is a great time to find something good to read. Sometimes I find myself sitting there reading (and avoiding any other outstanding chores) far past the time he has drifted off to dreamland. Other times, of course, I fall asleep myself in the chair and awaken in a daze with a hurt neck. It is only later after we’ve all gone to bed that my son decides he needs a little parental supervision. He gets out of his bed and walks down a hallway of creaky wooden floors and appears at our bedside in the wee hours of the night with sighs and low volume whining until we give him a hand to climb up into our bed and situate himself between us. I probably wouldn’t mind this so much aside from a few noteworthy vexations that follow. Once he drifts off to sleep the first thing he does is kick off the blankets and any cover sheets, peeling them away from my sides as well in the process. Then he has a nasty habit of spinning around counterclockwise with his legs and arms all spread out, creating a pinwheel of limbs passing over and striking anyone in the vicinity for the rest of the night. Since it is in the middle of the night sometimes I react to these thumping broadsides of flesh and bone with a shove of my own. Last night he seemed to be spinning at a faster pace than usual or I was just more violent in my reaction to it, but we basically ended up wrestling half the night with me ending up flinging him across the bed on top of his mommy, i.e, my wife. If it wasn’t for that human bulwark, I may have tossed him straight to the ground. Anyhow, when dawn broke and the house awoke, mommy was none too pleased with the way I had been pushing around my son all night. I’m not sure if she was miffed because I’d thrown him on top of her and disturbed her own beauty sleep or because I was sending the wrong message by pushing him away so emphatically. At the least I had lost my patience. It’s hard for me to take responsibility for my actions in a semi-conscious state at four in the morning while getting kicked in the nether regions, but I guess there’s always something to work on.