Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sleep is a precious thing

I have a little boy who can get out of his bed when he wants to. He has taken to visiting me in the wee hours. Every time he comes in he announces 'Mama, I get out my bed.' This makes me smile even at 2:00 in the morning. I have been lately letting him get in bed with me for a little while till he wants back in his bed, which is not usually more than 15 minutes or so.

I am not sure whether to try to end this behavior or not. I am of two minds. I much prefer this sleep disturbance to the alternative of him waking up and yelling for me to come in for 20 minutes till I wake up enough to drag myself into his room. And I will admit to being what I call a nightmare survivor. For as long as I can remember, I have always had vivid and real nightmares that wake me up and terrify me. Even now I wake David up several times a months with a nightmare. As a child I used to regularly go and get in bed with Daddy when I had a nightmare. If I stayed in my own bed and tried to go back to sleep, the nightmare would only return. I remember being 8 or 10 years old standing outside my parent's bedroom wanting to go in and telling myself I was too old for that and to go back to my own bed. Which I did. So now I have a hard time denying my son if he wants to get in with me for a few minutes for whatever reason. Sometimes you just need your mom or dad. Especially at 2:00 in the morning.

On the other hand, he also comes in regularly at about 6:00 or 6:20 a.m., almost the time David gets up for work. Jackson seems to know that it is almost morning and he comes to wait anxiously for his Daddy to get up. This bothers the hell out of both of us cause the last precious hour (or half hour) of sleep is golden and should not be ruined by a toddler who can't wait another minute for the day to begin. It is kinda funny, or it would be if I weren't trying desperately to sleep while it was going on. He is like a spring when he lays in bed with us, all taut and poised, ready to jump up at his Daddy's slightest move in the bed. When David does get up, so does the toddler. He springs up in the bed and announces, "I'm done sleeping!" This morning I made him stay in bed with me until we could hear that David was out of the shower. That wasn't easy to do. He kept asking me, "Is Daddy out the shower yet? Is he done yet." I was so amazingly tired this morning and this wasn't remotely funny.

Jackson also has been showing some sleep deprived behaviors the last few days. He isn't getting to sleep early enough at night, waking a few times each night and getting up too early. And then not napping long enough, or like today, running out of energy before the end of his preschool day. He was excited as hell to get there this morning and ran inside happily. He ate his lunch and behaved well, but apparently had his first paci meltdown at school. He has not asked for it at school before today. It has just been a fact that the paci does not go to school with him and he is fine with handing it over in the car. But he was tired today when I picked him up.

Cobby, the volunteer at work today, and I laughed a bit comparing the tired toddler to a belligerent drunk. Jackson was stumbling around, bleary-eyed, demanding, not really knowing what he wanted but pissed at you for not giving it to him. The little drunk boy was so tired, but was super-resistant to napping. Of course the timing was off. Nap time is generally between 12:30 and 1:00 and since school is over at 1:00, his nap is too late. But I got him somewhat appeased enough to nap. He was still sleeping at 4:15 and I had to wake him up to go home.

It was clear he wasn't done sleeping and his behavior showed it. He started right back in with the belligerent behavior. He demanded candy which I didn't have. I offered him a ginger snap and he scoffed at it and threw a small toy on the floor. Then when I put the cookies away he demanded one. I told him I'd give him a cookie if he picked up his toy and said please. He told me "No please!" and picked up his toy only to throw it on the floor again with a 'what're you gonna do about it' look. What did I do? I put the cookies away, gathered up a crying, kicking, screaming toddler and went home, dragging the child through the theatre where they were working on set, through a busy parking lot where the people either smiled at us or acted like I was beating the kid and to the car where I calmly (I am rather proud of how calmly) forced the struggling kid into his car seat. I explained what he had done wrong and why he didn't get a cookie and that he could try again later. I wanted to pull my hairs out it was so frustrating, but I could clearly see how tired he was and that this was fueling his tantrum.

An early bedtime was called for and we got him into his bed at 7:15, but I wouldn't say he was sleeping till 8:15 or 8:30ish. I think in general he needs to be in bed earlier. And I wonder if I need to pick him up from school early. Can he just not handle being up til 1:30? I dunno.

I don't know whether or how to curtail his visits to my room at night and how to and whether to get him to sleep longer in the morning. his behavior is so obviously tied to hunger and tiredness that I simply can't ignore the sleep factor in the ease of living with a toddler. He can be the most wonderful kid to be around, but if he is tired or hungry or both, forget it.

I do of course think he is a genius. Two things today make me say so. The first is his drawing ability. He is definitely left handed and he loves to color and draw. He has been working on drawing a car and today he did pretty darn well. He drew two circles for wheels which were almost the same size and then he drew an oblong shape on the wheels for the car. It really looked like a car! He brought it over and showed us all and then drew another one for us. What a talent, I tell you.

The other act of genius was when I was reading him his bedtime books. He likes a book that has pictures of babies dressed up in bug costumes; lady bugs, caterpillars, dragonflies, etc. He loves the butterfly picture and gets excited by it every night. Tonight he asked me what kind of butterfly I wanted which is his code for 'mommy, ask me what kind of butterfly I want.' He pointed to the picture of the small boy in the butterfly costume and said he wanted 'butterfly on his back' - the wings - so he could 'fly, fly, fly, everywhere, all outside.' And he acted out flying with his hand and asked me to buy him a butterfly. He thinks if he wears the costume he could fly like a butterfly. And although we all know the impossibility of this thought, my 2-year-old is a genius for putting it together the way he did. So says Mama.

Last night was dance rehearsal number two and I continue to suck, but not quite as bad as last time. I don't think there is much hope of me learning turns - pirouettes, and the like. The whole concept of 'spotting' so you don't get dizzy is not difficult to recognize, but is not actually easy to do. I did remember a number of combinations that were taught on Saturday, so that was good. I think I will do well enough in the end, but I can tell it is going to take a lot of work. And hopefully that work will result in a more toned physique to show off on the Palace Stage in May.

On that note, I took a SmartOnes lunch to work today. Larry had a Healthy Choice meal with him. After we both ate our health-conscious meals and were sitting in the office working on separate things, I couldn't ignore the fact that my stomach was still growling. I sighed and said, "Larry, I'm fricken hungry! I may have to break into the snack bar." Without missing a beat he replied, "I'll split a candy bar with you." So alas, the two Palace workers tore into a Twix bar and giggled the whole time.


The Holmes said...

The tired toddler/belligerent drunk comparison is right on. One won't go to sleep, the other won't give up their car keys.

Julie said...

You didn't ask for advice, but I'm going to recommend a book anyway. It's called "Discipline" by T. Berry Brazelton and it might help with situations you describe. Although it does just sound like the poor boy's sleeping is off. Hopefully everything will even out soon. But T. Berry is awesome, he's the teddy bear pediatrician and he is so non-judgemental and helpful. I highly recommend that book or his Touchpoints book. Good luck!

eefolsom said...

Well, since you have a genious on your hands, you could try using a clock. Digital, with big numbers. Make a production out of picking out a clock for his room. Maybe it even has a radio. Work on the numbers and tell him that he cannot come in to your room until a certain time (say 7am). Now, he is 2, so if he has a really bad nightmare, he will come to your room if he REALLY needs you. I did this with my kids, I can't remember if they were that young, but it works well when they are ready.

I really do think he is just sleep deprived. I don't think picking him up early from pre-school is going to change anything because that isn't his issue. Sleeping through the night is. Mostly it will just be a phase and he will move past it. Don't worry, he won't sleep with you forever...you'll miss it when he doesn't. Believe me.

Tell Larry I said hi!