Sleep Lottery

I love sleep.  It’s sort of necessary to live.  My children don’t agree.  They seem to think it’s optional, a luxury, an extravagant indulgence.  And I think they secretly revel in the power of being to take it away from me whenever they damn well please.

See, however much you THINK you’re in charge as a parent, when it comes to sleep, they’re calling the shots.  And they know it.

Our eldest is seven, so he’s more than capable of taking himself for a wee if he wakes up in the middle of the night.  Does he come and tell us first?  No, he doesn’t…but he announces it, loud and proud, when he slams his bedroom door behind him, crashes the lid into the cistern, flushes, bangs into the bath and then turns on the taps full blast.  Ping!  Suddenly we’re all wide awake and may as well be in the bathroom taking a slash with him.

Our pre-schooler is a master of torture by sleep deprivation.  He thrives on it.  And he’s unpredictable.  Firstly he’ll take a good hour to settle down to sleep at bedtime, coming out  with a myriad of inventive excuses including telling us various body parts are broken, that his covers aren’t straight and the old classic, there are red-eyed spider monkeys in his bed (?) (stated very calmly and matter-of-factly).

He then lays in wait until we go to bed (OK, maybe that’s cynical – he probably is genuinely asleep) and then proceeds to come into our room at intervals through the night to tell us he wants a drink (having walked past his water cup to get there), that he wants a wee (having walked past the bathroom to get there) and that he can’t find his teddy (having just been in bed with it).

Our toddler does the old random singing and giggling in the middle of the night and when we go in he’s sat up smiling (as though it’s eight o’clock in the morning rather than quarter to sodding three).  Sometimes we’ll be happily slumbering and we’ll hear a blood-curdling scream that has you sitting bolt upright in bed…only to go in and find him still fast asleep.

When windows are open, they want them closed.  Same with the doors.  They’re too hot…then they’re too cold.

But the piece de resistance is when our seven-year old sleep-walks.  It’s freaky.  He lies in bed and cries as though his heart is breaking.  We rush in and try to comfort him…and he looks at us as though he doesn’t know who we are.  He can speak coherently but doesn’t respond in any sort of sensible way to us.  Eventually, he’ll settle…and then has no recollection of it the morning after.

This is all bad enough but after a night of interrupted tossing and turning, we get up with eyes burning, feeling slightly nauseous and with our thoughts only on caffeine when one of them chirrups happily, ‘Did you have a good sleep, Mum?’  Does their cruelty know no bounds? 🙂


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