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.