At bedtime, a child isn’t unlike a zombie

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

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We’ve been fairly lucky when it comes to children and sleep. Leah, our oldest, didn’t take too much work to convert to a regular 7:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. sleep through the nighter. Charlotte has proved to be a little more difficult but at nine months, is coming around to sleeping through the night as well.

But fairly lucky doesn’t mean completely lucky, and the part that has been fairly unlucky has lately become quite the drain on our family sleeping habits. It seems Leah cavorts with Zombies in the middle of the night and that these zombies have convinced her the only way to make us love her is to yell at the top of her lungs for an hour during the middle of every night.

This is how our nights play out:

  1. I say “Leah, remember, if you sleep in your own bed all night and don’t yell at us, you can have a Dora treat in the morning.”
  2. Leah says, “Yes daddy, I love treats and you’re my best buddy. You sleep in my bed just this much,” and then holds her thumbs and index finger an inch apart, tilts her head and closes one eye.
  3. “That sounds reasonable,” I say.
  4. We walk to her bed and spend fifteen minutes telling land far, far, far, far away stories before she falls asleep.
  5. She looks like an angel. An angel who sleeps with an Elmo and Grover.
  6. The clock strikes 1 a.m.
  7. Leah yells “Noooo! I want to go to downstairs timeout! Noooo, I want to go to big, big timeout!”
  8. I head to Leah’s room, I pick Leah up, I carry Leah downstairs, I lie down with her on the guest bed, I listen to her tell me we’re not best buddies.
  9. I up the bribery. “I’ll forget this ever happened if you stop right now. That means you can still get your Dora treat in the morning.”
  10. “I want Dora treat now!”
  11. I listen to more yelling.
  12. “I stop crying daddy. You want to lie down with me upstairs for this much whiles?” She repeats the finger, head-cocking, win gesture from earlier in the night. “You’re my best buddy.”
  13. We lie down in her bed and in three minutes she falls back asleep.
  14. I cry a little inside my eyes.

Now that doesn’t happen every night, I’d say closer to five out of seven nights a week. And from step 6 to step 14, we’re talking anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour for the scene to play out.

I’m quite sure when I was Leah’s age, I slept for whatever length of time I was asked. If my parents wanted me to sleep 16 hours, I’m sure I did. If they wanted me to sleep for five hours and thirteen minutes, I’d sleep exactly that long.

I’m hoping Leah, in short order, gets with that program. Because as bad as she can be, Charlotte is way worse. But at least she’s not yet a zombie.

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