I’ll admit it. Thumper’s sleeping habits have never been a major issue for me. As long as all the conditions are right – complete darkness, blankets and stuffed animals placed exactly right, she is happy to drift off into dreamland. (Don’t hate us. The kid might sleep well but dinners are always a disaster. Everyone gets one freebie, this is ours. Let us have it. ) But even though sleeping has been a mostly successful area for us, it hasn’t been perfect. She is still a child after all, and has definitely given me the run-around here and there, and like all you sleepless mommies out there, those moments have left me with a twitch and fistfuls of my own hair. Today was one of those days, the bang-your-head-against-the-wall-why-won’t-you-just-f#cking-go-to-sleep days, and as I reflected back on all the things Thumper has done and said to avoid sleep or to ruin mine, I kept coming back to these five major questions. And since I don’t stand a hope in hell of ever answering them, except to say that these relate back to the backwards universal laws of parenthood that continually screw us over, I thought I’d share them with you. So let’s each get a martini, and commiserate over why our children can so easily and gleefully deprive us of the single greatest gift that our world has to offer.
Why must children always sleep in on the mornings when you actually have somewhere to be? Oh, you have an 8:30 doctor’s appointment? Or big meeting with the most important client in the history of ever? Or you’re just trying to make it to your kid’s gymnastics class on time, for once? Oh, they’ll sleep right until the last possible second that you’re willing to give them. Yet every week, without fail, on those lazy Sunday mornings when there is absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to go, they are up at the ass-crack of dawn, rearing to go like Richard Simmons circa 1984.
Why, once they’ve begun to form a vocabulary and a variety of sentences, must they wake up and immediately start crying? This, of course, is in reference to the cries that *you know* aren’t real and are only supposed to serve to let you know it’s time to release the dragon from her cage. Why can’t they just wake up and calmly call out to us to let us know they’re up? (Side note: children, if you’re going to cry, please make it believable. Because when you’re actually crying, I feel sympathy for you. When your tears are so blatantly and obviously fake, all I feel is blind rage.) Aren’t children supposed to be observant creatures? Why is it that they can tell right away when Mommy wants to kill Daddy because his dirty socks are everywhere , even when she is actively trying to hide it, but can’t pick up on the fact that if they fake-cry after a nap, Mommy will storm into the room like one of those lesser-known dwarfs, Stompy, Twitchy, or Slammy? And that if they wake up like a normal person, Mommy will come into the room all sing-song and Julie Andrews-ish with bluebirds on her shoulders? Do they really prefer the dwarfs? C’mon. Nobody wants the dwarfs. Let’s just cut the shit and everybody wins.
How come on the days when you’ve done absolutely nothing and gone nowhere, they sleep for their full naptime and then some? But then when you’ve dragged them to every playgroup and story time in the tri-city area, as well as taken them along to run every errand you can think of, and let them run up and down the hallway squealing in delight for 20 minutes straight in hopes of tiring them out, they don’t sleep a f*cking wink?
Once they’ve learned to sleep through the night, how come they decide to wake up only when you have house guests over? In an effort to spare your guests’ their precious sleep, you sacrifice your own by doing all sorts of things you normally wouldn’t dare: let the child sleep with you, lay down on the floor beside their bed until they fall asleep, actually get up with them at 3 a.m. hoping that they’ll tire out soon (they won’t) and basically just barter and plead your soul away to the tiny little devil in Dora PJs.
How do they get so damn good at stalling before bed? “I need...I need...I would really like some...uh... (ten minute pause) some water please.” “I just want you to lay down with me. Just for a minute.” “Another story? You’re such a good storyteller. Please Mommy?” “May I have another hug please? And now a kiss? And how about another hug? And another kiss?” When you finally snap out of it and realize you’re just being played, you end up feeling like a monster for denying them both your affections and a drink. And even though they’re fine and will soon be in dreamland, you’ll be up all night worried that you’ve not only scarred them for life, but will have Children’s Services knocking at your door by morning light.
And after all that, they are so friggin’ cute when they do fall asleep that you have to sit on your fingers and lock the bedroom doors so that you don’t wake them up right away. They’re crafty, alright. Jerks.