Monday, January 14, 2013

Sleepless. Not in Seattle, so at least we avoided that cliche.

Last night I was heading to bed, and as part of that routine, I went towards Linden's room to take her in to the bathroom one last time.  It seems less inconvenient than changing wet sheets.  But before I got there, her door popped open, then she sort of staggered back to the middle of her room.  I went in and scooped her up, thinking she must have already wet her bed, but she was dry, if sweaty.  "Did you have a bad dream?" I asked.  She shook her head and mumbled something.  I said, "Well, while you're up..." and took her into the bathroom.  She did her thing, and I asked again, "Were you having a bad dream?"  She shook her head again.  "So...why did you get up?"  I asked.

"I don't know!" she said, in a surprised little voice.

I'd been in bed about another hour when The Winemaker suddenly leapt out of bed and walked out.  I was too tired to figure it out, but in the morning found out that he'd heard Linden crying, and went in to soothe her.  That time she did say she was having a bad dream.

Tonight I got her to sleep after lots of cuddling and singing and talking and cuddling.  The Winemaker was doing the manly version of the same with Oak.  It usually involves drawing pictures on each others' backs, making the stuffed animals play hide-and-seek, and reviewing the day's highlights.  I came downstairs to waste time online relax, but half an hour later, I head what can best be described as hollering from upstairs.  I hit the steps running, and went in to find Linden sitting up in bed, sobbing.  Again, she seemed unable to tell me what was going on, and her mumbling was so unclear that I'm not sure if she was awake at all.  I took her in for her potty break, and rocked her a bit before laying her back down.  She rolled over, then sort of yelped and half sat up again, then laid down again.  The Winemaker stuck his head in to see how we were doing, and asked if I'd be willing to trade for awhile.  At 90 minutes past his bedtime, Oak was still not able to get to sleep.

I went in and offered to sing lullabies.  I heard his breathing deepen, and was feeling all smug and successful, when he suddenly broke into John Denver's ouvre with a "Mom!  I'm still scared!" 

"Of what?"
"The same as always!  Monsters and zombies!"

The kid sleeps with a nightlight on, the hallway light on (and door wide open to the hall), and with a parent next to him until he's sound asleep.  The closet door must be shut.  The shades must be closed tight.  All his stuffed animals must stand guard around his head.  We've discussed the not-realness of monsters and zombies both by daylight and in bed.  He looked at me with red, teary eyes, and I knew that even if imaginary creatures are just stand-ins for his real fears, he's still terrified.

I tried tickling him.  I tried turning on the lights and pointing out that just like every single night for the last six months, there are zero bad guys lurking in his room.  (Turns out The Winemaker already tried that, and even explained about makeup artists and costumes in movies, then switched to the illogic of someone dressed up in a monster costume breaking into our locked house and coming upstairs just to scare an 8 year old.)  I tried suggesting my favorite 'can't get to sleep' trick*, and I tried having him imagine pleasant scenes from his recent past. 

Then his sister started yelling incoherently from the next room, and he sat bolt upright, returning to frightened bunny stage.

I'm supposed to be asleep, as I'm the one who gets up the morning to go earn us some money.  The Winemaker is camped out with a pillow and blanket on the floor between the kids' rooms, so he can be available as needed to both.  This is only acceptable to Oak because we are letting him leave his bedroom light on.  Still, he occasionally whispers, "Daddy?" in a tense voice, just to be sure he gets a reply. 

I know lots of kids have nightmares or sleep problems.  I know my kids have specific reasons why nighttime is scary and hard.  I find it very interesting that after months of pretty trouble-free sleep (yes, Oak needs nightlights and parental presence, but that usually allows him to drop off pretty quickly), both kids are struggling at the same time.  Is there some anniversary we're not aware of? I hope it doesn't last long, for selfish as well as loving reasons, but in a weird way, I feel like it's all okay.  If they need to process stuff, they can.  We've got it.

 I REALLY should be in bed instead of writing, especially if I want to justify handing off floor duty to The Winemaker.  Good night and sweet dreams.  Somebody should have them if we don't!

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