How You Know Your Preteen is Really, Really Tired

There is a myriad of ways that parents can tell that their very young children are tired. They rub their eyes. They yawn. They throw fits and whine about incidental things. They refuse to go to sleep.

Preteens are a bit more difficult to read. Part of this is because when a preteen is tired, she typically doesn’t have the same resistance to taking a nap as a preschooler. If your preteen is tired, you will probably find her passed out.

If forced to function while tired, however, she may make strange cognitive mistakes that she will not remember the next day.

When we arrived at our hotel late Friday night, both the preschooler and the preteen were asleep in the back seat. The preschooler had the good fortune to be carried to the room. Jane was given a shake and told to grab her stuff and come in.

She was thirsty and asked for a drink. Her dad unwrapped one of the paper cups provided by the hotel and handed it to her. After awhile, I noticed that she was spending a lot of time at the sink. She would turn the water on for a brief spurt, then lean down close to the bowl, take a sip, then repeat.

When I got closer, I saw why. She had the cup upside down.

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She protested when I took the cup from her and poured out the water. I then turned it right-side up and refilled it. She gave me a confused “Oh. Thank you.” The next morning, she had no recollection of the incident. That is how you know when she is tired.

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The Adventures of Hal

We had dinner at Chick-Fil-A tonight. Our local restaurant hosts “Spirit Nights” for various organizations. Tonight was for Destination Imagination, an activity that Daryl is involved in. A friend and her kids were there as well so we ate with her and her son while her daughter waited tables to help with the fundraiser. Jane stayed home and Daryl was, ironically, at his Destination Imagination practice.

Hal was a little wound up by the time we sat down. As he bounced on his chair, our friend commented how much she enjoyed reading about his antics on Facebook and on this blog. This kicked off a rapid-fire retelling of several of his more colorful tales from her and her young son, all centered around poop.

First, a favorite of our friend:

Jane and Hal were arguing about something that I don’t recall now.
Jane: “I am not going to argue with a four year-old.”
Dad: “You mean you are going to stop arguing with a four year-old?”
Hal: “Doodie Poopie bottom!”
Jane: “Yes.”

Then they talked about the time he rode his tricycle down to the neighbor’s house without permission. When I started to panic that he was missing, he rode back up and calmly announced, “I pooped in my pants.”

Then there was the day I found Hal in the bathroom, donning a pair of the blue latex gloves that we would wear while scrubbing the poop out of his underwear. When I asked what he was doing, he patiently explained to me that Sobo-be-nye-nye, his imaginary friend, had pooped in her pants.

I don’t know if Hal was listening and wanted to give them some firsthand exposure to his adventures or if it’s just not possible for an hour to go by without him entertaining those around him. Fortunately, the new tales do not involve poop. We sincerely hope to have permanently moved beyond those particular adventures.

Hal headed off to the play area while the rest of us sat around the table and talked. At one point, a lady approached our table, pointed at my husband, and said, “Excuse me, but your son is stuck between the slide and the wall.”

We all popped up to where we could see. Sure enough, Hal had managed to wedge himself between the slide and the wall. His face was already red from having been running around and now he was starting to look slightly panicked. His dad walked in and started talking him through it. Most of the dining room was now watching. One man asked me if he was trying to talk him through it or if he couldn’t figure out how to get him unstuck. I told him that my husband was the type of parent that makes a kid get himself out of a situation he got himself into.

Eventually, Hal was freed and resumed his running around. When he returned to the table, he was hot and sweaty and extremely thirsty. First he tried my lemonade but it was empty. He loudly proclaimed himself thirsty and then tried to stick a straw in Jane’s cup that I was going to take home to her. “No, that’s Jane’s,” I said. He loudly proclaimed himself thirsty.

That’s when he reached across the table for the other cup he saw, which belonged to Mary, our friend’s daughter who had finished with her volunteer work and was gathering her dinner before heading off to softball practice. Mary pulled it back and I told Hal that it was hers. He loudly proclaimed himself thirsty.

Now, there’s something you need to know about Mary. And about us. We are not a family that is overly concerned with germs. We will drink out of each other’s cups, share food off the same fork, even share a toothbrush if the situation is desperate enough. Mary is not like us in this regard. She is not the least bit interested in swapping germs with anyone. At all. Period.

Before I had the opportunity to find a solution to Hal’s parched problem, he had reached for the cup again and managed to get his lips on her straw before I pulled him off.

“Mom,” said Mary. “I need a new straw.”

So… I stole her straw and put it in Jane’s cup and then let Hal drink some of Jane’s tea, the whole time wondering what Mary thought of me giving Jane a straw that both Mary and Hal had touched. Oh, well. When you live with Hal, you do what you gotta do.

A Hal to Standard English Translation

As I have said before, Hal is a very amusing child to listen to. Here are some of his best or more common phrases, along with my translations for the uninitiated.

“I want to go to the popcorn place.” – I want to go to the movie theater.

“I want to go to the soup place.” – I want to go to the Chinese restaurant.

“I am going to hop like a broken kangaroo.” – I am going to hop on one leg.

“I am hungry for some apples.” – I would like an apple, preferably sliced.

“I want a bacon nugget cheese biscuit.” – I want a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit. Translation credit for this one goes to Daryl.

“I need a new whistle in my mouth because mine is broken. The one in my mouth is.” – I don’t know how to whistle.

“My tummy is thirsty for some sweet tea.” – I want some sweet tea but I think you will tell me no so I am hoping to convince you that it is what my body needs.

“My tummy is telling me that I really need a drink of water.” – I am bored in the worship service but you’ve rejected my claim of being thirsty as a valid reason to leave so I am hoping that you will listen to my tummy.