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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sleep's Desire

For the first year of my son’s life, I was done wanting to be an award-winning playwright or write novels or musicals. All I wanted was to sleep.

I did not succeed, and it comes as no surprise that I have raised an insomniac. That boy wore me out, I’m here to tell you. He stayed up past midnight and woke at three. Sometimes he was hungry, but often he wanted to play.

Somehow or other, we both survived those early months and little by little, I got him closer to a reasonable bedtime. By reasonable I mean 10 (graduating to 9 on school nights, and yes, I tried for 8:30). Where he got his energy, God only knows.

I myself have a fairly sluggish disposition, meaning give me a bed and 10 times out of 10, I’ll want to sleep in it. Which is why, when parents tell me their kids go to bed at 7 or 7:30, I want to melt down just like a two-year-old. I have never known that child and I never, ever will. Not for me the long evenings on the veranda, sipping wine or mint juleps or whatever parents sip when they have more than seven minutes to themselves.

On the other hand, I did become a consummate expert at wheedling, thinking up all sorts of imaginative ways to entice my son into his bed. Once I succeeded, though, the trick was to get him to stay there – which happened maybe 50% of the time. I finally gave in and placed a mat next to my bed, so if he got bored or lonely he could come into his parents’ room.

I am also a believer in flashlights and board books that can slip under the covers, though my husband would tell you he is not. But if bringing your kid into your room works, and you are desperate for sleep, I promise you will do anything, even if it means throwing all the experts' books out the window. So we did.

Of course, the experts would say we were raising a kid who will never figure out how to sleep alone. Phooey, I would say right back to them. Do you want to sleep alone? Weren’t cats invented for the very purpose of making sure we don’t have to?

Now my son is older, I know he still has a lot of trouble sleeping. I believe it is because he has an adventurer’s mind and a performer’s heart, and the soundtrack pulses through him like jazz, making it hard to find the serenity needed to enter a sleeper’s wonderland.

I tell him about meditation and milk and soft music, but I know none of it is helping. I tell him wait until he has a kid, and then he’ll start sleeping like the babies everyone else talks about who nod off in their mother’s arms at a moment’s notice.

I don’t tell him his kid won’t let him nod off. But I smile, just a little, and think, I hope I get to meet this kid.

Good things come to those who wait.