Syd has never been an easy sleeper. As a baby I swore he was living on New York Time. He liked to be awake until late in the evening, then sleep late in the mornings. If he was my only child I would have high-fived him for this, but when he is the youngest of three you don’t get the advantage of the lie in, what you get is an over-tired Mum and baby on the school run. Deep joy.
He is far better than he was. He often asks to go to bed at seven o’clock. Great huh?! Well, it would be if it wasn’t for the fact that the gap between going to bed and going to sleep can be up to two hours.
I know, we have made a rod for our own backs. I admire all you parents with steelier spines and strict routines, but our spines are made of cotton wool, and he has us totally wrapped around his little fingers. Literally often, as one of his favourite ways to comfort himself is to bind his fingers through my hair, and then tug. OUCH! There are many times where his almost snoozing head has been bolted to attention by a yelp of pain from me as he twists one turn too far.
Before we even head upstairs there is a ritual to be completed. He chooses who is coming with him. Currently it is ‘Bobby and Ray’, a small rubbery anemone and a Ray fish magnifying glass. Woe betide us if they have managed to hide in the jumble of other toys during the day. These items found, he says goodnight to Daddy. A very cute sight. ‘Night night, sleep tight, bed bugs bite’. He is the current owner of the World record in speed talking those three little phrases, the words blurring together to make one lengthy sesquipedlians dream. The ‘don’t let the…’ bit has been discarded for taking too long, let’s hope the bed bugs haven’t noticed the implicit invitation granted them each evening.
The same is repeated with his brother, then it is off to his sister’s room to say goodnight. A teenagers apoco-room is a fun place for a toddler. He negotiates the mountain of clothes on the floor to reach her bed, which is a raft of safety in a sea of chaos, then has to say goodnight to her, Hemmo her stuffed Panda, and kiss assorted friends of her goodnight on the iPad screen.
Next step is the new car seat that is in the hall between her room and ours. Placed there while waiting for him to grow into it, he has to pay it a visit each evening. ‘I sit in my seat’ he announces, or rather ‘I dit in my deat’ as the letter ‘S’ is still defeating him. He carefully examines both cup holders before leaning over to the adjacent full length mirror to say goodnight to himself.
Finally we make it to the bedroom, only twenty minutes after setting off for bed. Now it is time to choose some stories, or at least begin the bargaining over how many we are choosing. I may be a lax parent, but I am giving him skills that will see him being great in finance one day. ‘Ten more’ is often the cry. I mean why start off asking for one more when you can go for the big deal?!
Then we begin our stocktake of Mr Men books. They are numbered. We don’t own all of them, just most of them, so a daily conversation about which ones we do and don’t have ensues. Eventually he will hop up next to me in bed and we will finally read, pausing only a dozen times to answer questions about hats, or mouths, or any number of inconsistencies he feels he has spotted in the illustrations.
After the negotiated number of tales, it is lights off time. No, I can’t leave then, what do you think I am, some sort of competant parent?! This is far from over yet. We have to sing.
I use the last remaining vestiges of energy trying to soothingly sing Incy Wincey or whatever that weeks top hit is, then I say it is time to sleep. I have to lie down with him.
He chatters away about this and that, until I finally get firm and say it is time to sleep. He still chatters away while I pretend to be asleep next to him, causing him to peel open my eyelids to ask ‘Are you awake Mummy?’. Eventually he nods off, normally shortly after I do. I stumble awake some time later wondering if I have missed the whole evening, or whether I might be in time to get annoyed by Newsnight and plod blearily downstairs, rubbing my eyes, to grab an hour or two of adult time before falling into bed again myself.
Sometimes I wish I had managed sleep training, but despite the long drawn out nightly rituals, I actually quite like it. I love listening to him chatter to himself while he is drifting off, the uncensored whitterings of a toddler brain are bizarre and enlightening and often completely baffling, but always very cute.
Go on, leave me your tales of routine and kids who are asleep by half past 6, because it is nice to have something to aspire to!
Love Miss Cisco XXX