Fear and Transition

Here is the typical night in the Batzer house. Kids are put to bed between 8:30 and 9 PM. Some time in the wee hours, the kids stumble out of their beds into ours. Most of the time it wouldn’t even wake us up. It was the way everyone seemed to get the most sleep, so it became habit.

I will wait while whoever needs to gets their judging out of the way. (Come on, I don’t care how much we all say we don’t.)

However, the kids aren’t cute, little toddlers anymore. They are cute, big preschoolers, and they take over the bed. Too many nights, recently, John or I (mostly John) would end up sleeping in CJ’s room. So we changed the rules. When they wake up at night, for now, they may come get one of us, and we will help them get back to sleep in their rooms. Eventually, they will have to try it on their own. It’s a transition thing. You can call me a wimpy parent if you want to, but I had enough scary moments “sleeping” alone as a kid, that I can’t go the suck-it-up route.

Leila is adjusting to this pretty well. I can pretty much turn her towards her bed, tuck her in, and she is back asleep. And she is waking up less often.

CJ not so much.

At 12:45 AM last night, he came over and got me and insisted he could not fall asleep in his room. And he proved that until 3 AM. He would doze off for maybe 10 minutes or so before he was back, begging to sleep in our room. I finally laid down with him until he fell asleep around 3, and he managed to sleep until after 4 before he was back. At that point, I was too incoherent to stop him curling up next to me.

Here is were the parenting gets tough, not just by actions, but on an emotion level. Because it is hard for me to blame the kid. I still hate sleeping alone. Even when I was single, I had a dog and cat that slept with me. A big, empty bed is not appealing to me. I toss and turn. An empty house means that I fall asleep with the TV on because my imagination won’t let me sleep otherwise, especially now that the only dog in the house is deaf.

So I understand the kid’s issue. I understand that shadows can look scary and that in the dark a toy speeder bike looks like a rat. I am both impressed and frustrated by his ability to stay in that twilight sleep and not give into exhaustion.

And, yes, I know that this is partially a power play, but really it comes down to mostly fear. A fear that I fully understand.

So somehow we need to find CJ’s version of getting a pet or leaving the TV on. Neither of which will work for him as a four-year-old at the moment. He needs his comfort in the dark, and it needs to not be Mommy or Daddy.

It’s extra hard to make my kid face a fear when I share that fear. It feels slightly hypocritical even as I understand why it is necessary. I mean, most nights I don’t have to deal with it because, hello, John sleeps next to me. CJ just wants the same comfort, and that makes me feel bad even if I understand why he can’t have it.

Eventually, I know we will stumble onto the magic feather that will get CJ sleeping through the night in his own bed. I just hope it is before his parents exist completely of caffeine as we try and help him through this process.


9 thoughts on “Fear and Transition

  1. Bella crawls into bed with us 4 or more nights a week. It drives me batty but honestly? I feel like if that’s what she needs right now, I’m ok with it. I hear you on trying to get them into their own beds – we are struggling with that too. We had it down for a while…
    I’m supporting you on this one! It’s sleep and everyone needs it so eventually you do what works for a while. <3

    • Yeah, I was perfectly happy letting them stay as long as it meant everyone was getting sleep! And I know I will miss it when they don’t want it anymore. We’ll figure it out soon hopefully!

  2. It may be a hard stretch for you, most of all. Maybe there is an element of CJ tapping into your fear and using it to create his own. He knows you’ll respond in his favor because he already understands you’re afraid of sleeping alone. Mini-Me didn’t sleep through the night until she was near 6. And still now, at age 17, she wakes up. Hers was more the half-asleep bawling deliria that she suffered from rather than the need to be near me. But I totally understand the dragging yourself out of bed to soothe your kiddo.
    As bizarre as this is going to sound, maybe it’s worth a crack. Get a baby moniter (with camera) and use it in reverse. That way if he wakes up and it truly is fear that you are gone, this can start to create a self-soothing technique for him. He can roll over, see you, and stay in bed. You get sleep, and he has the knowledge that you’re still there. Once his fear of ‘aloneness’ are conquered, everyone is back on track for peaceful nights.

    • That is an interesting idea. If we can’t conquer it soon, I might try it. I think I am pretty good at not letting on that I don’t like sleeping alone. He has always been the more dependent of the kids.

  3. If it’s more of a physical touch issue, let him sleep in one of your tshirts, or wrap his pillow in one of them. Use it to dry your hair, then it has your smell that can comfort him.
    Let me know how each of these things turn out if you choose to try!

  4. Would the dog sleep in CJ’s room? We went through a phase where Nook slept with Elizabeth because she didn’t want to be alone in her room (this was either at the same time as or right after the sleeping on the floor next to her bed for almost a year phase).

  5. No judgment here, because we’re in the same boat. Baguette sleeps with us because that’s the way that the most total sleep is gotten, although none of us is getting enough.

    Sleeping alone is tied to her greatest fear, of exile. She’s not afraid of the dark, as far as we can tell, but we know that she sees naps at home not as rest, and not as an irritation, but as a punishment, because (as far as she can tell) we have chosen to separate ourselves from her.

    So we need to figure out how to change that, because she’s getting bigger and stronger and it’s harder and harder to share the bed with her. Mr. Sandwich is in the process of building her a twin bed, which we’re hoping will be more appealing than the toddler bed he built a couple of years ago (she sees it as a fine place to pretend to sleep, but not a place to actually sleep).

    There are some great suggestions here, and I’m going to try to remember them for when we start our own transition.

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