Do you remember being a kid and not wanting to go to bed? You believed sleep was a punishment depriving you of the adventure of living. Do you remember being a teenager who wanted to stay awake but could do nothing but sleep? Naps were frequent and sleeping until lunchtime on the weekends was commonplace. Are you now a parent who finds glorious ecstasy in waking and realizing you slept more than five hours?
Sometime after age 11, we start to see the merits of sleep. We make it through adolescence and then our 20s until parenthood hits. Suddenly, sleep isn't simply something of merit but rather a holy grail as unattainable as a low mortgage rate. Sleep is numinous. In fact, I'm surprised more songs, poems, or odes haven't been written about this basic yet often elusive life function.
Like our brain cells, sleep slips away with age. I seriously consider it a good night if I wake up in the morning after sunrise, can count more than seven hours since I went to bed, and realize I only got up once during the night to pee. Truly a beautiful thing, I tell you, yet as fleeting as my dark brown hair, which is now more than 50% overrun by gray strands (but you’ll never know it!). It is because of how much I treasure sleep that I completely lose it when my nine-year-old daughter fights with me every night about going to bed.
“Can’t you be sweet to me at bedtime?” she pleads.
I respond, “You get sweetness for five minutes. After 45 minutes, my love, you’re S.O.L.” (She knows what that means.)
|My son, who is already in the throws of puberty, naps with the cat (who doesn't need puberty as an excuse).|
This is bliss.
I am open to any ideas for how to manage the bedtime routine better so long as they don’t include alcohol or tranquilizers (and don’t think I haven’t considered that many times). I’ve already tried threatening to take away privileges for the following day (and following through), professional counseling for her alleged sleep fears, bedtime stories, nightlights, melatonin, redecorating her room more times over the past nine years than any girl deserves, and even being a kinder and gentler mommy at bedtime (which usually requires alcohol on my part). It’s time to think outside the box, people. Hit me with your best shot!