In those first 12 or so weeks after you bring your baby home you accept sleep deprivation. It’s part of the job. Even after they start sleeping through the night, you realize there will still be some sleepless nights with sickness, nightmares, adjustment from crib to bed, etc. But man, when they get passed all that, going all night on a regular basis, your tolerance and patience for getting up in the wee hours goes to zero, and your anger and disgust hit the top peg. At least mine did, does, has, is currently.
So we’re into the stuffed animal phase with AM. She must have, oh I don’t know, six, seven, 45 animals and blankets in her bed at any one time. And that’s great. It makes her happy, it helps her go to sleep, and that makes me happy. Of course having that many objects in the bed only increases the odds that one or more will fall out. Now you would think that wouldn’t be much of a deal, but in the early morning hours, if she wakes up, she immediately does an inventory. If any animal or blanket fails to respond with the appropriate “Here!” the wailing starts. As I stumble into the room and ask the dumb but required question, “Why are you crying?” I am told, through hysterical sobbing, so and so has fallen out of the bed.
After cursing Perry the Platypus, or Lamb, or Turtle, I re-install them and a national crisis is averted. You’re welcome America.
This has become such a ritual, I no longer need lights, or words even. I just stumble in at the appointed time, usually 3:30, reach to the ground to find the little prick that tried to jump for it, stuff him back under the blanket and go back to bed. So I was a little surprised the other night when 3:30 came and went with the still and quiet of a golf course just before the first tee shot of the day. Well all righty, I can sleep on through to 6:45 when I have to wake Frank for school.
The surprise didn’t end there. As I turned on Frank’s closet light to begin the wake up sequence I noticed what appeared to be two heads on his pillow. My first thought was if that’s a horse head I’m outta here. Nope. No horse head. It was Anne Marie, sound asleep and cutting as much lumber as Frank was. At some point during the night she left her room and crawled into bed with her brother and went to sleep. She must have been there a while because all I got out of Frank was some ancient Sumatran dialect. He probably slept on and off since 3 or 4am. Anne Marie has slept with us before. It ain’t peacful. She uses the Magellan principal, exploring every inch of the bed, using her feet to clear the way.
When Frank did finally come to, he begged me to keep her out of his room. Poor kid. He digs his sleep. But you know what, he asks for so little, takes himself to shower and to bed, regulates his own sweet tooth which is to say he switched to milk for lunch and water with his snack because those aren’t Woe Foods. And apparently Santa is getting carrot sticks and grapes on Christmas eve. Great, that’ll be more fruits and veggies than I’ve ever had in my entire life. Undoubtedly some young, cute nutritionist came to his class to talk about eating healthy. Anyway, if the kid wants to sleep through the night in peace the least I can do is make it happen.
But Anne Marie is like an evil genius. The first night she crawled into Frank’s bed she opened and closed both her’s and Frank’s doors without waking me up. I sleep light so that was no small trick. She managed to do it two more times without me catching her. The third time it was Frank waking me up at 4 in the morn asking me to get Anne Marie out of his room. His supplication was dripping with equal parts frustration and derision. He just stopped short of saying, C’mon bro, you had one job! I felt the sting of his nonverbal attitude. Message received first born child. Vigilance set to stun.
Nabbed her the next two times. The first time I jacked her up she was halfway to his room, three of her favorite animals in hand. I’m not sure why but I feel compelled to ask her questions in the middle of the morning when I catch her out of bed. This time it was, Where you going!
I don’t know. Where’s Frank?
He’s sleeping like everyone else. Get back to bed!
And that’s it. It’s not like a massive debate. Once she’s caught she usually gives up. But just for that night. She begins to scheme, refine, replan.
The next night she was riding clean. She left all the animals back at home base. She must have felt they gave away her position. In reality they did. Holding her animals makes it harder for her to close the doors quietly. She has to do it with one hand and that can get noisy. With both hands free she can stay flat footed and move the door more smoothly. But she messed up earlier in the day. She left her little Playskool phone in the hall. She kicked it on her way to Frank’s room.
Like the spotlights at a prison during a break, the alert went out and I was on her before she got past the hall bathroom. She initially took three quick steps down the hall as if she thought about trying to outrun me. She smartly abandoned that plan and gave herself up. Another notch in my belt, to go along with another night of interrupted sleep.
So yeah, I’m a super hero now. My watch is from 3 to 5 in the am. My charge; keeping bedrooms safe from co-sleeping. My arch nemesis is my 2yr old daughter. My super power: old man sleep patterns.
The Night Sentinel!