For all their new big-kid independent ways, their “I’ll take care of this” and “Can I learn how to do that?”, these boys of mine are still, deep down, so young, so very attached.
Some months ago I promised that the next time Matt went out of town over a weekend, they could fulfill their deepest wish and sleep “in the big bed” with me, as they put it. Pleeeeaasse?? begs Lyle at least once a week, can’t we plleeeeeaaase all sleep in this bed tonight?
They’re snugglers, these boys. There is always a last-minute request – just at the moment when they accept that their books are being pulled from their hands and the lights really are going off – for one last snuggle. Generally this means one boy clambering down from his top bunk and dive-bombing the boy in the bottom bunk with a request for me to somehow be in the middle.
They are not so small anymore. This sort of barely worked when they were one and five, but not at almost-7 and 10. Yet we do it anyway, until one too many flying elbow has come at me and I’ve hit my limit, or Lyle has lain on top of Baxter, nearly suffocating him, and Baxter has hit his limit. It’s not the least bit quiet and relaxing, but that doesn’t seem to be what they need. They are looking for closeness – physical connectedness – at the end of the day. And so, in their best dreams, this would go on all night.
I have needs, too, however. I learned very early on when Baxter was a baby that one of my needs is a good night’s sleep. Although both boys slept in our bed for a couple months when they were newborns, a very sweet time for us all, I could not continue to work effectively at my very active job with other people’s children if I was not sleeping well, and there was no reason they couldn’t be expected to achieve solo sleep. After a while we moved them to their own cribs and when they were older infants, employed a very challenging but eventually effective cry-it-out strategy. I need peace and quiet at night and I get it.
However, this weekend Matt is away and so I reminded the boys of my promise. I chose Saturday night for them to come sleep in my room, knowing that we had nothing important planned on Sunday so I wouldn’t be dragging myself around town all day. Of all the fun things they did all weekend, including dinner with friends, staying up late to watch the moon rise over the lake, flying a kite with more friends, riding the red line downtown to see a YoYo competition (which included buying cool YoYos and learning tricks on them), and ordering Chinese food for dinner, the thing they were most excited about was this “sleepover” in my room last night. Their anticipation was incredibly sweet.
We set ourselves up in the bed with one boy on each side and me, of course, in the middle. I stayed with them while they fell asleep, and fell asleep myself until the dog alerted me that it was time for him to go out. Much later I snuck back in under the covers between them. I loved this for a while, being aware of how grown up they are as each of them closed the gap between us and snuggled in with me. But soon, as they began to shift in their sleep, there were swift, sharp kicks to my legs (by feet the same size as my own) and one jab to the armpit (I’m not entirely sure how he managed that), and I realized that I couldn’t really turn over. At all.
And so at about 1AM I snuck out and slept in their bunk bed until Baxter woke at dawn and came looking for me. Clearly disappointed that I hadn’t spent the whole night with them, he asked if I could come back, and so while he read a book I drifted back off to sleep – except that he woke me at least three times between 5:30 and 6:30. Mommy, you snored! (I may have mentioned that this was because I couldn’t turn over on my side at all. And, anyway, one snore is bothering you as you read your book HOW exactly?) I finally sent Baxter out of the room to read in another room and I was able to doze a bit until Lyle woke up at 7. At this point, the dog, clearly confused by all the unusual nighttime comings and goings – and perhaps wondering why he hadn’t seen The Big Guy since Thursday – took his little stressed self into my bathroom and vomited on the white rug.
As sweet as I find their desire for a “sleepover”, I think we’ll stick to the bedtime snuggling from now on. Please pass the coffee.