Thursday, November 20, 2008

Things That Go BUMP in the Night

I think my original decision to have a family bed may have been selfish, and now I can fully understand why pediatricians urge parents to tuck their little angels into their very own comfy little cement-truck-princess-plum-fairy adorned beds.

Sanity, and children who are not afraid to be alone. In the dark. At night.

Two nights ago I babysat for one of the doctors I work for, who has a 12-year old stepson, 3-year old daughter, 2-year old son, and 8-month old foster son. Oh, and one slightly crazy wife, who I “get” completely. My own toddler came with me, as she is extremely impressed with 3YO’s collection of princess-wear, mini kitchen appliances, books, and the full-sized bounce house in the basement – and because no one else will watch her while I babysit. The three youngest of their kids basically went to bed an hour apart, starting with the little one at 6:15, and they each went into their own rooms, and their own respective beds. (The 12YO basically put himself to bed, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t need me to check his pull-up). There was only a slight glitch in this, as my daughter and the 3YO, when left to their own devices in a small section of the house, cordoned off my multiple baby-gate barricades while I put 2YO down at 7:15 – decided to make a beach/castle out of all the bedding from the parents room, along with a couple sections of the newspaper for blankets, and Mom’s 10 pound hand weights for beverages. (I later tried to convince them their sippy cups would work too and that 10 pound tropical umbrella-ed drinks may hurt when dropped. I listened from 2YO’s room as they screamed and giggled with delight, obviously buzzing from the weights, and oblivious to the fact that sleeping was going on elsewhere in the house.

Not the point. I get home from an evening meeting last night, grab some dinner, slump my exhausted self onto the couch and immediately begin the Shower-war with my 11 –year old son, who for whatever reason, thinks being dirty and stinky constitutes some new “grunge” look. He balks, and starts looking for clothes in the downstairs bathroom, thinking again he’d wear whatever he took off this morning and left crumpled on the floor.

“Those clothes are in the washing machine A, go upstairs get some from your room.”

He walks out of the bathroom, and turns as if he’s going to the laundry room.

“No A, go upstairs! There’s nothing clean down here”, I said, a little more firmly this time.

“I don’t need to. I have some clothes down here”, he says, going to retrieve the backpack he brought to sleep over at his cousins over the weekend. He sees the bag has been emptied, and comes back to the living room.

“A, just GO get some clothes and get your BUTT in the SHOWER.”

“Mommy, can you just go get me some underwear.”

“No. YOU go get you some underwear. And get moving because if I have to tell you again, you will NOT go to practice tomorrow.” There was a small gasp as he processed this threat, aware that I am 75% likely to follow through, even with that most heinous of punishments. But he is obviously more nervous about going into the dark abyss of the 2nd storey than he is about not starting a game because he missed a practice.

He turns to his 2YO sister, who sits in her recently dumped toy bin watching Dora. “C, will you go get Bubba some underwear?”

“Okay, Bubba”. And she climbs out of the bucket, and heads upstairs.

“A, GO WITH HER! She can’t even turn the lights on by herself!”

He takes her hand and heads up the stairs with her. To get his underwear.

I called after him, “What in the world kind of boogeymen is SHE going to protect you from?”

He yells back, “She’s not, but if they eat her first, maybe they’ll be too full for me!”


Char said...

now that my friend is LOGIC. being the oldest myself, I totally get it.

Periodically Consistent said...

I dont have siblings, but I suppose I'd give up a small child to any closet-monster that threatened my life. I think I just wouldnt offer up my own :)

6FM said...

This is a very interesting piece. Do you think your son's trepidation is the result of co-sleeping?

I was an absolute wuss in my pre-teen years and I am convinced that it was because I slept with the rents until I was eight or nine.

My wife and I argue all the time about the "family bed" and you can guess where I stand. At present, my youngest is now sleeping n his room all night. While my oldest (4) comes into our room earlier and earlier.

I really wanna break that habit.


Good post.

Wow, that was awkward said...

What a clever scaredy pants he is. My oldest taunted his little brother while camping that Bears like to eat honey and Drews.

Periodically Consistent said...

I think the fact that he is seldom alone makes him more nervous about it than children who sleep alone every night. And while I dont dislike the family bed, I certainly wish I had a little alone time, and children that will go upstairs without me (or their fearless little protectors).