Friday, May 11, 2007

And who couldn't use a good night's sleep?

Bedtime has been fairly dreadful lately. The idea of me checking in on J every few minutes as long as he stayed quietly in bed worked OK for about three nights, and then he started with this weird separation issue and it all went to hell in a handbasket. He'd cry for me if I so much as stepped out of his sight during the day, much less if I actually left his room of a night. Of course, K would tell me to lay down the law and that maybe I should consider spanking him (I'm not sure he intended that for bedtime or just in general, but J is not the kind of child who will respond well to spanking, I don't think - he may be contrite in the short run, but I don't think the iron fist teaches him to control himself and govern his own behavior, and mama and daddy won't always be there to enforce that control for him - but I digress, back to bedtime). So the last three or four nights have been absolute flaming hell at bedtime, because I persisted in trying the in and out thing, and J persisted in screaming his little head off and fighting it and me for all he was worth. Good times.

TonightJ wanted me to stay with him at bedtime, so I did. Lo and behold, no fuss, no muss. After he fell asleep, I picked up my other Mary Kurcinka book, Sleepless in America (I also have Raising Your Spirited Child), and I cried as I read it. We're both sleep deprived. Sleep deprived children fight sleep and sleep less, they're argumentative, easily frustrated, wired, bouncing off the walls, more clumsy, more likely to pick fights and resist parental guidance, quicker to whine and say "no" and throw tantrums over the most minute of things, and I saw J in every word. It also talked about how to recognize if you as a parent are sleep deprived - do you get set off more easily, yell, feel guilty for having no energy for the kids, get really sleepy during the day. Yeah, we both need more sleep. I just ordered copies of that and of Raising Your Spirited Child to give to Kevin, and he better read every word, because I don't want one more word from him about how we just need to lay down the law. After reading that, I'm convinced that sleep deprivation is at the root of a lot of these problems, and that behavior can be drastically improved if we can get J into a routine where he's more easily able to get the sleep he needs. I don't give a rat's ass what A does with her kids, J isn't those kids and he can't be treated the same way, necessarily. If K can't see J in the pages of those books, he's not paying attention, because every sentence, every paragraph just leapt off the pages at me and smacked me upside the head.

At one point the author talked about having the parents in a class she was teaching list all the strategies they'd been told to try, by family or friends or doctors or whatever, to get their kids to sleep - let them cry it out, put your foot down, don't respond to them when they call, just stay for a couple of minutes and then leave, shut the door, don't comfort them, don't rock them, and so on. At the next class, she then told them she was looking for a care facility for her dad who had Parkinson's, and she described a (fictional) place where the philosophy was, we're in control, we won't mollycoddle the patients, they'll go to bed when it's time, no exceptions, if they're in pain or wet or whatever they can wait until rounds start at 6 AM, if they wake up during the night no one's going to go in and hold their hands, they can just learn to deal with it on their own, basically everything that's traditionally said about getting your kids to sleep. Of course the parents were appalled, said it was inhumane, such a place should be shut down, you can't treat people that way - and then the author made the point, why are we horrified at the thought of treating the elderly this way at bedtime, but not our children? Smack, right in the face. If a child isn't getting what he needs to be comfortable, he gets tense. More tension, less sleep. Less sleep, worse behavior and more tension, and on and on. So, new approach. If J needs me to sit with him, I sit. As long as he's not taking two hours to get to sleep, if he'll lay in bed quietly and make an effort to sleep, I'll stay. Tonight when I turned out the light, he reached out and grabbed my hand and said, "Don't leave me." Not crying, not whining, not demanding, just very softly, as if he expected me to go anyway. I could have cried right then, and I'd no more have left than I'd have jumped off a cliff. It took him about half an hour to get to sleep, but he laid in bed quietly for most of that time, and that was OK. If me being there is what he needs right now, then that's what he'll have. And I'm going to try my best to start getting more sleep myself. A break from transcription could be a blessing in disguise in that regard.

Yeah, a break - not sure what's happening with my part-time job. I can't do overflow for Julie anymore, because she quit - she got a full-time job in her field, and understandably gave transcription the heave-ho. So, the last time I called to ask about work, I was told that they'd gotten a company to help them catch up, and that they had my number and would call if they needed any help. Call me crazy, but that sounds like a blow-off to me. Oh well. I'll try to find something else if possible, and life goes on. Sucks, though, because the extra money was a help, and there isn't another part-time job I can think of that I could do from home and do that well with, and finances aren't bad enough that 1) I want to have to try to ask K for more help with J (I have a feeling that wouldn't sit well with A, and I guess I can understand that), or 2) I want to lose even more time with J. I feel like my time with him is short enough as it is.

Let's see, what else has gone on? Brian and J and I went to K & A's reception a couple of weeks ago. It was a nice party, and Brian got to meet K and K's parents and a couple of other relatives. I didn't think it was awkward, and we had a good time. J wore a tie for the first time and looked like quite the little man. I'll have to post a picture.

And last weekend, Brian and I did the "meet the parents" thing. I think it went well.

I'll write more later, I've got to get to bed if I'm going to get more sleep!

1 comment:

Kalleigh Hathaway said...

Nice to hear you check in.