It is the battle cry of Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western parents: Please, for the love of God, go to sleep! If you stay in your bed tonight, I will take you to the movies over the weekend. If you go to sleep tonight I will buy you a car when you turn sixteen. Please! Just! Go! To! Sleep!
I’ll admit it: I wasn’t the easiest little sprout to get to bed. Word has it that I fought about going to sleep, wouldn’t stay asleep and I never, ever stayed in my own bed. As evidence to the aforementioned allegations, there is a photograph of me standing up, but bent over on my bed sound asleep. I stalwartly refused to lie down, but the rest of me eventually threw in the towel.
In my defense, I had very vivid—although somewhat peculiar—nightmares. I was terrified of Spiderman. Yes, the wholesome comic book hero Spiderman.
Way back in the day, The Electric Company came on right after Sesame Street and The Electric Company had a little Spiderman segment. If I watched so much as the opening title song for EC, I dreamt that very night that Spiderman was leaning over my bed and trying to get me. I remember having to sit out in the hall when my kindergarten class got to watch EC on special treat days because Mom had to speak to my teacher about the whole mess.
I also had a vivid and very frightening dream that the movie critic Gene Shalit was leaning over my bed a la Spiderman. My shrieks sent my dad running into my room. Damned if I know where that one came from, but I think he might have actually been scarier than Spiderman.
Yet another time, a dream caused me to honestly believe that I was being chased by snakes and that they were crawling up the walls of my bedroom. I immediately ran and jumped into my parents’ bed, but it seemed that the snakes decided to follow me. I proceeded to wail about the snakes in Mom and Dad’s room to the point that my ultra snake phobic mother (ophidiophobic for you Scrabble fans out there) started to buy the hype and freak out.
Would you like to know the hope that kept my parents functioning during my poorly rested youth? One night, Mom was about to lose it and Dad said, “Just think...when she grows up, her children will probably do the same thing to her.” Dad’s Karmic suggestion caused Mom to fervently pray that my children would do the same to me.
During my babysitting years, I learned early that wrestling unwilling children to sleep was waaaay above my pay grade. Accordingly, I let them run around like wild beasties until they quite literally dropped in their tracks. I had one kid fall asleep the second he sat still long enough to drink some water—that God for sippy cups because he fall asleep with the cup in between the table and his mouth. I had another one fall asleep on the toilet.
Of course, when it came to my own children, I couldn’t very well follow the Lord of the Flies plan if for no other reason than I really wanted to get some damn sleep. My mother got her wish of retribution with Baby Belle 1. To this day, I will never understand how a tiny little baby can be stone cold asleep and wake up instantly when put in its crib, yet that same baby stays sound asleep when placed in your bed. Furthermore, Baby Belle 1 continues to sleep with Mama and she is a terrible cover hog.
Let me take a moment to assure you that my mother (or Bon Bon as she is called by my girls) has enjoyed every single minute of my restless parenthood.
Second children are known for being easier about the whole sleep gig. I think it’s because they have some sort of innate Darwinian knowledge that they have to be better because their parents are still going bat shit crazy with the firstborn.
Take my brother for example: When Ethan was born, he slept and ate and slept and ate and the only time he really cried was when he was hungry. My mother spent a lot of time standing by his crib, gazing at him anxiously because—thanks to me—she was under the impression that babies were supposed to act a whole lot worse than he did. She thought that something was wrong with him.
Baby Belle 2 looked promising in the beginning. When she was born, Scott and I looked at each other in breathless amazement every time we put her in her bassinet or crib because she stayed asleep. She stayed asleep! Baby Belle 2 has become a little more of a challenge as she’s gotten older although she still sleeps in her own bed for amazing lengths of time—my hypothesis is that BB2 sees what BB1 gets away with and monkey see, monkey do.
So—yes—it apparently is possible to hex your children as much as thirty years into the future. My husband doesn’t understand why he has to bear the burden of my curse, but his mom told me that, when he was a baby, he would throw up like clockwork if someone didn’t get to his crib in time. Ha............................