Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!!

Children make life hell sometimes. Don’t worry. I can love and cherish and be unable to imagine life without them and still feel this way. Because it’s true. Life might be less colorful but it’d be easier and more predictable and more… in control.

I have trouble with sleep. I’m always tired during the day, sometimes to the point of barely functioning. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep – it’s staying asleep for a reasonable amount of time that eludes me. I wake up several times during the night and I tend to wake up about 4:30 every morning – regardless of whether I went to bed at nine or midnight.

When I wake up during the night, I often have trouble falling back asleep. Especially if my brain starts spinning. For this reason, my doctor and I are trying medication for stress to see if it improves my sleep. My sleep situation is my top health priority right now.

What does that have to do with my children?

Let me tell you.

You expect sleepless nights and fatigue when they are infants. You know that for a period of time that is much longer than you think you can survive, they will wake you up every night and you will have to go feed them, rock them, hold them.

And then there’s the period after, when you get to sleep without disturbance most nights. But every once in awhile, more frequently than you’d like but not every night, a child comes into your room or screams from their bed. To tell you he needs to go potty. To tell you she had a bad dream. To try to wheedle her way into your bed for the rest of the night. To cry about the scary thunderstorm.

But eventually, he learns to just go to the potty without coming to tell you about it. She rolls over and goes back to sleep and waits until morning to tell you about the bad dream. She quits trying to sleep with you when it never works. He learns the thunderstorm won’t hurt him and begins to sleep through it.

By the time your youngest child is nearing seven years old, you no longer expect to be disturbed at night. You fool yourself into believing you have your sleep schedule under control. And then they deviously shatter your illusion. Ruthlessly. Mercilessly.

I went to bed early last night. I had sat on my bed from 8 until nearly 8:45, listening to said near seven year old read a Frog and Toad story to me. All 60+ pages of it, in careful, practiced monotone without consistent pausing at periods and with only a few word stumbles. He’s doing great and I’m very proud of him. It’s also kind of mind-numbing and lulling.

I was ready for bed after putting him to bed. So, at 9:15, I retired and fell quickly asleep. I was excited about the possibility of a good night’s sleep. That’s when it always happens. Sleep. Will. Be denied.

Around midnight, I was dragged from the deepest, darkest recesses of sleep by an electronic rooster crowing. I was confused and disoriented. As I slowly and painfully joined the world of the living, I tried to interpret what was happening. An alarm. So it must be time to wake up. But who’s alarm? And why isn’t my husband in bed if it’s morning?

Where is the alarm coming from? Not my room. Not the boy’s room – theirs is a much quieter beeping sound. Not the girl’s room. Hers is even quieter. And both are always quickly silenced. This damn rooster is still crowing. From the living room? Where?

No one seemed to be moving. Except the dog, whose claws I could hear clicking on the floor as she wondered about the rooster too. Then I heard movement and the rooster silenced. My husband? Did he set the alarm? Why?! And why the rooster? He knows I consider that particular alarm sound to be evil. And why the living room when he knows my sleep issues and he was sewing at the far other end of the house? Why?

My heart fell and I felt hopelessly sad and defeated. My dear friend sleep had left me for good. I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon. I finally decided that I might as well go ask him what was going on.

He was, indeed, at the other end of the house, adjusting sleeve and pant lengths on band uniforms for the high school and listening to music that I couldn’t hear until I opened our bedroom door. He had his back to me as I approached. I began to think that maybe I had imagined the rooster. What would I do if he hadn’t heard it? What if I had advanced to waking myself up with imaginary sounds? What then?

Hesitantly I asked him, “Um. Did you hear… a rooster a few minutes ago?”

He burst out laughing and turned with a smile, “Did you like that?!”

“No,” I said without a trace of humor. “It woke me up. I was so deep asleep that I was confused and couldn’t figure out what was going on.”

“Well, I was confused too and I wasn’t asleep. Hal apparently set several alarms on his tablet.”

Boom. Just like that. A curious kid had accidentally or purposely set some alarms, not comprehending the full effect of his actions. Not understanding time, or A.M. vs. P.M. He was just playing. And now I was awake. Children make life hell sometimes.

“I turned them all off,” my husband continued. “He had another one set for one and another for four, I think.”

I must have looked defeated.

“Would you like a hug?” he asked.

I took the hug but didn’t cheer up.

“You know how much I hate that rooster,” I said.

“I know honey. I’m sorry.”

I returned to bed, where I composed this blog post a dozen times in my head before returning to the land of slumber. I slept through my husband coming to bed some time later, and only woke up once that I know of before my alarm went off. But I can tell that today will be an exceptionally tired day.

I was resting on my bed, talking to Jane, when the boys’ alarm went off. I raced into the room, flipped on the light, and as Daryl tried to return to his bed, I yelled, “Cock-a-doodle-doo, Hal Monkey!!”

He began to laugh.

I started with good humor but firmly told him how big of a problem it was. He knew the alarms were set and was proud of it, although I’m still assuming he didn’t understand when they’d go off.

I won’t be able to try going to bed early again until at least Sunday. Last night was to be a rare treat.

Rare treat, indeed.

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Things That Go Bump In The Night

One recent night, after an extremely long day, I retired to bed very, very early. So early that my husband did not join me. At some point during my (apparently very deep) slumber, I heard a loud crash in our bathroom. I startled, then interpreted the noise as my husband dropping something – probably the Sonicare toothbrush, in our sink.

I was irritated that he was proving incapable of preparing for bed without disturbing me when the crash happened again, only louder and more sustained. I began to be concerned that he was going to break my beautiful vessel sink that he had made for me. I also began to worry that perhaps he was having some sort of medical problem making him unable to hold onto whatever it was he kept dropping.

Then he sat up from the bed next to me, removed his C-PAP, and headed to the bathroom to investigate. At that point, I was rather embarrassed that I was too out of it to notice that a 230+ pound man was sleeping next to me. And that I had shown an apparent complete lack of concern by not making my own movement toward the bathroom. Then I worried about what could possibly have made that noise.

The suction-cup mirror in the shower, it turns out. It slipped a couple of its cups, which caused first his heavy wood-handled shaving brush to fall. Then it slipped the remaining cups and clattered to the shower floor. Mystery solved and I eventually fell back asleep.

The next night, I was awakened around 4 or 5 in the morning by the sound of something rattling on the floor near my head. I tried to ignore it but it persisted. I turned on my phone and checked the area around the bed. Nothing. Eventually the noise moved to his side of the bed. He turned on his phone and checked the area around the bed. Nothing.

But before long, we knew. It simply had to be a mouse. Playing with something hard. The little knocking sounds of something bumping the wooden floor were eventually joined by mousy squeaking sounds. We couldn’t quiet it. We couldn’t scare it away. I lay awake hoping it didn’t decide to traverse the bed.

Two nights passed with a mousetrap on the floor at the head of the bed. At some point during that second night, the knocking began again. This time at the center of the head of the bed. The mouse was under the bed. This was not an easy problem to solve because our bed is not on feet. It’s a platform with drawers. The only way to see under it is to remove the mattress and peer through the slats.

I tried, like the previous time, to ignore it. But it was impossible. My husband was away from home, so I slapped his side of the bed. The loud thunk would pause the mouse for a few minutes, granting me a bit of reprieve. But it also disturbed the dog in the boys’ room next door, who began to bark at me.

So I got up and scooted the bed off the slats. That also concerned the dog, who barked some more warnings through the wall. Soon the whole household would be awake. I found what the mouse had been playing with. Well, not playing, really. Attempting to eat.

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I threw away the cough drop and hoped that the mouse, wherever it had scurried off to hide, would move on when it could no longer find its treasure. I scooted the bed back onto the slats and attempted to return to sleep. Some time later, I was again awakened by the sound of a cough drop being knocked repeatedly on the floor under the bed. I slapped the bed. The dog barked. The mouse squeaked. I lay awake, defeated.

That morning, I got my eleven year old son to help me completely remove the mattress from the slats and prop it up against the wall. I pulled all of the drawers out of the bed platform. I found no cough drop. I have no clue what the mouse was playing with that last time. Maybe she took it with her.

Meanwhile, the dog trotted down the hall toward my room, spied the looming form of the bed against the wall, and knew it was time to perform her duty as protector of the household. She crouched down, raised the hair along her spine, and growled menacingly. Eventually barking with all the ferocity a dangerous inanimate object deserves, disregarding the reassurance of the object of her protection (me) that all was ok.

I moved the mouse trap closer to the center of the bed. I returned the mattress. I consoled the dog. I got the kids out the door for school. I headed to work, already exhausted. I hope the mouse finds my peanut butter in the trap while I’m away. I’d hate to have to cede *my* bedroom to the invader and sleep on the couch.

Don’t Wake Mommy! Please!

As I have said before, I don’t like getting woken up in the middle of the night. It makes me grumpy. I spend an unfortunate amount of time being grumpy. Fortunately for my family, I’ve learned ways to present my grumpiness with a bit of lighthearted humor. To take the edge off.

Since we are both off work this week, my husband and I have been trying to finish the remodeling project we started nearly two years ago when we gutted our bedroom and bath of everything – including drywall and insulation. We had gotten the project to the point where we just needed flooring and baseboards in both rooms. Oh, and door frames. And new lighting and a heater in the bathroom. And a mirror. And the attic access needs to be trimmed. And it’d be nice to have handles and locks on the sliding doors. Oh, and I guess it’d be nice to have a vanity actually attached to the wall with a working sink on it. And then I decided that I really couldn’t live with the ugly metal window in the bathroom after all.

Needless to say, we’ve been working very hard and going to bed exhausted all week. I’m still usually a light sleeper, though. So, two nights ago, I was awakened suddenly by my boys’ bedroom door opening. I tensed and waited, praying that I’d hear the toilet lid go up rather than hear the shuffle of feet approaching my bed.

I didn’t hear the toilet lid. Or the shuffling feet. Or any other noises. I strained my ears to try to hear what was going on. I glanced out to the hallway to confirm their door was indeed open. I thought I heard whispering. Were they both up? What was going on? Then I heard the dog move, more excited whispering, verging on giggling, feet moving hurriedly back down the hall.

As I reached for my phone to see what time it was (12:30am), I knocked it off the table to the floor. A shadowy form paused at their bedroom door briefly before closing it. I laid there tense before realizing I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep soon. I got up and peeked through the crack by their door. (Another project, don’t ask). I saw and heard nothing. I took the opportunity to use the bathroom. I laid back down and wondered why I had had children as I waited impatiently for sleep to reclaim me.

The next day, I asked them why they had gotten up in the middle of the night.

“Oh,” said Daryl, semi-evasively, “I was just using the bathroom.”

“No you weren’t. I never heard you switch on the light. Never heard the toilet lid go up. Never heard it flush. I did, however, hear whispering, which means Hal was with you. What were you doing?”

“Bubba was going to go to the computer so we could play a game!” said Hal, with a fair amount of 5-year-old glee.

Daryl looked at me with a sheepish smile and tried to shake his head in a weak denial.

“But you didn’t. Why not?”

“Because Rose woke up and I was afraid she’d wake you up and get us in trouble, so we hurried back to bed.”

“Ok, Daryl,” I said, “I’m a ridiculously light sleeper. You can’t even open your door without waking me up. And I really don’t like being woken up. So please, please don’t leave your room unless it’s to go pee. Ok?”

The next night, Hal reminded me that sometimes I really am so tired that opening their door does not wake me. Those nights are the worst. Those are the nights where you are deep in a blissful slumber and are ever so slowly roused from that slumber by the realization that there is a child crawling on top of you. Those are the worst because you can still sense the wonderfulness of that sleep you were in and are coming to realize that it is all over and you will be forced awake.

“Hal, what are you doing?!”

“I need to go potty!”

“Well, then go potty!” This is where the grumpiness comes in. I was so dead to the world that he could have walked down to the hall bathroom, as he has done many times before, without waking me at all – for once. But this time, this time, he felt the need to come tell me first.

“I don’t want to walk down there.”

“Well, it’s either that or pee in my bed and I don’t want you doing that!” I threw off my covers and stalked down the hall, flipped on the light, and tried to stay in the hall in the vain hope that not exposing myself to the bright lights would make it easier to go back to sleep.

He entered the room, lifted the seat, and began to pee. I stood in the hallway thinking about little boys and how they often pee when not very awake. With a sigh, I turned to look in the bathroom. His stream was disturbingly horizontal. I wasn’t sure whether he was hitting the bowl or the underside of the raised seat.

Alarmed, and too tired to consider the consequences, I said, “Point it down!”

This startled him, causing him to jump and bump the toilet. The lid and seat, which need to be tightened, fell closed. He continued to pee.

“Stop! Stop! Wait!” I yelled as I rushed into the room to raise the seat. And then I headed to the kitchen for the cleaner and paper towels so I could clean the mess I had helped make while he returned to bed. When I crawled back into mine, beside the husband who never wakes, I tried not to think about how good my sleep had felt before it was interrupted or how tired I’d be come morning. I just tried to remember how much I really do love that kid.