I have discovered a brilliant secret to detach the clinging child from keeping me awake while he prolongs the random wake-up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. Parents, you know what I’m talking about. The child wakens you from a dead sleep at an ungodly hour to tell you that he can’t sleep. In spite of your no-child-left-allowed-in-the-bed rule, you give in in the hope that you can get back to sleep without further interruptions. This works sometimes. It does not work this time because the child writhes in the bed beside you, poking your back, smacking you in the face, yanking the covers from 1/3 of your body (a random 1/3 that wreaks impossible havoc on your sleep temperature). Eventually, the child achieves what must be his devious master plan – to get you as awake as he is. You strategize.
“Let’s go back to your bed and I’ll rub your back and your hair so you can go to sleep.”
This also usually works like a snake-charm. It does not work this time. Every time you think the child has fallen asleep, you remove your hand and he pops back up to ask you a question about clams—or Captain America, or the color of the sky.
“Look, Mommy, I think the sky is the color of morning. It’s time to wake up!”
After making him look at the clock to see that it is 4:30 a.m. and reminding him that during the school year I had to drag him out of bed at 7:30 a.m. I nearly weep at the pain in my neck and shoulders caused by my attempts to prop myself up on a Hello Kitty pillow and an unidentifiable Pillow Pet.
Then, out of the desperate need of the moment, my perfect idea arises. “Are you tired?” I ask, already knowing what his answer will be.
“Good,” I reply smiling, “then it’s your turn to rub my neck and shoulders.”
“But … why? I don’t want to … I can’t.”
“Nonsense. I rub your back all the time. Plus, you said you aren’t tired and my neck hurts. So it’s your turn. Get those hands going!”
He grumbles, then gets quiet and thinks about it, trying to work out this new turn of events. Finally, he says, “Oh, I get it. I have to rub your shoulders because you rub mine.”
“Yep. Chop-chop mister. Sit up so you can dig in.” (I want to wear him out as quickly as possible and get a free massage in the process. Brillant!)
He lasts maybe 3 minutes. “Oh my gosh, my hands are sooooo tired!”
“Oh stop it. Make a fist, then.” I demonstrate it for him. His little hands are like a cat tiptoeing over my back. Push down as hard as you can. My shoulders are killing me!”
He makes a valiant effort for another minute. “I’m soooo tired!”
“But you said you weren’t tired. Which is it?”
“Now I’m tired.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I really am!”
“So I should leave?”
“Are you sure? I can stay. I could use a bit more.”
He shoves my legs with his feet. “Out!”
I head back to bed doing a little victory dance and celebrating what is sure to be a foolproof method of getting sucked into another sleepless night for several years. Worst case scenario—he decides to take me up on it and I get a massage while I sit up with him.
Mom for the win!