Daddy Talk: What Happens During the Night
It would be hilarious to set up surveillance cameras all over our house only to see how much movement goes on throughout the night. Last night, our two-year old, Lydia, woke up at least four times, screaming out about something or another. The first time, she was yelling, “Ants! Ants!” which is a new phobia for her after seeing an ant bed get the better of one of her brothers. Though she has not had, to my knowledge, any personal experience with ant bites, the scene with Tanner must have been traumatic enough. Of course, I ran into her room when she screamed around 12:45 a.m. and checked her body and her bed for ants. There were none. She finally settled down and was then quickly back to sleep. For about 30 minutes. Normally, with Lydia, I can calm her down easily and she’ll go back to sleep. But after the fourth wake-up call, my wife, Ashley, went in there, which is bad news because she has a tendency to fall asleep herself once she gets there.
At 2:30 a.m., our cat, Andy Van Slyke, needed to go outside, and since he cannot operate the doorknob by himself, his protocol is to come to my side of the bed, drive his claws into the side of our mattress, and let out one loud, “Meow!” Part surprised and part angry, I darted out of bed, which is my custom, followed him to the front door and let him outside, smoothly trying to avoid waking up the other sleepers.
Tanner, our four-year old, is probably our lightest sleeper. Often, around 4:00 a.m., he shows up in our room to announce that he must use the bathroom, get a drink of water, or sleep with us. Because I can’t sleep with a kid in the bed, I recently stuck a camping cot in our closet, which I direct Tanner to if he decides to stay in our room. But on this occasion, I noticed that Ashley wasn’t in bed with me anyway, so I let Tanner take her spot. This plan sounded logical at 4:00 a.m. but it backfired because I forgot that Tanner enjoys digging his feet under whoever he is sleeping with. I got annoyed enough that, at some point, I grabbed my pillow and went to his bed.
If we’re really lucky with the surveillance cameras, we’ll capture one of the mornings where, just before daybreak, our dog, Stella will hear a bird or a squirrel in the backyard, start barking uncontrollably, and burst out through the doggie door at 30 miles per hour. On mornings like those, when the alarm clock goes off, not only can you not find the alarm clock, but you also can’t find the people you’re looking for because none of them are where you left them.
The one exception to that rule is our six-year old, Isaac. He sleeps on the top bunk of the boys’ bunk bed where he is apparently unbothered by anything that occurs on ground level. Not that it would matter. One time, he literally slept through an earthquake. (It was when we spent a month in Peru one summer. It was a 4.5 magnitude earthquake.)
I’ve spoken to other parents about sleep issues, and they have shared similar stories of non-sleep. The miracle, I suppose, is that most of us are somehow able to still get up and drag ourselves to work. While sleep issues continue to work themselves out in our children (and pets), perhaps we should simply be aware that there is often no such thing as a complete linear progression of normal functioning in kids. I used to think that after the “baby phase,” we’d all be sleeping all night long, calm and peaceful. Apparently that’s not the case, so, new parents, I hate to break it to you. At least when we see you coming into the office ten minutes late with mismatched socks and with coffee spilled on one of your shirt sleeves and with your kid’s breakfast spilled on the other, we can look at you and smile and say, “Whew! I’d like to see surveillance footage from that night!”
Tim Krason tries to sleep in his own bed in Clinton. Usually he’s good at keeping the kids and animals out of it.