It’s the luck of the draw. Sometimes you produce a child that sleeps. Sometimes you don’t. Our oldest is a preschooler now — and at four years old she’s almost as terrible a sleeper as she was as a wee baby. Her little sister sleeps far better at eight months than the older one ever has.
It’s a rare night that doesn’t find her standing beside our bed staring at us in the darkness or wandering out to the living room where we’re watching an episode of Doctor Who or playing video games; sometimes in tears, sometimes just waiting for the right moment to speak, standing and staring at us creepily. And it’s some of the things that she says that are the icing on the cake.
“Freckles fell off my bed” – she sleeps on a futon. Freckles the three-foot-long stuffed lizard toy half-slid off the futon. Apparently it was easier to get up, open the door, come in to our room, wake us up, make us retrieve Freckles and place him next to her on the bed again than it was to just reach over and pick it up herself. This has been used more than once.
“I have a bad song in my head and it makes me not sleep.” – In this case, the music from Super Mario Galaxy. Yeah, I get that. I told her to hear a Deadmau5 song instead. It only kind of worked.
“My pillow is too hot.” – Umm. What?
“I can’t find my Quetzalcoatlus” – Who can even pronounce that at 3am?
“I don’t want to use my pillow anymore.” – Then maybe just push it off the bed and go back to sleep? This requires an announcement?
“I have to do my pee.” – Us: You’re in the living room. Please go to the bathroom. No, don’t take off your pyjama pants in the middle of the living room… the bathroom is down the hall. Wait, that’s mommy & daddy’s bedroom… back up there. Into the bathroom you go. And done.
“I had a bad dream about tiny robots on the floor.” – Curse you tiny robots. Curse you!
“My leg/arm/eye/stomach hurts.” – When asked to point to where it hurts, she either can’t do it or changes her mind to something else that hurts.
“Your game/video is too loud.” – Oops. We’ll turn that down.
“I’m sad.” – When asked why, she doesn’t know. Acknowledge the sad and move on.
“I lost my penguin.” – To her credit, she tried to find the penguin first; by turning on every light, dragging blankets and sheets across the room, and upending everything in sight. It was on her bed.
“My cars aren’t parked.” – Followed by a trip to the living room to park her cars, if she thinks she can get away with it.
“I’m ready to wake up. Is it time to wake up? I want to watch a video. Can I play games on the computer?” No. Just no.
“What are you guys doing?” – We’re sleeping. Or we were. Now we’re silently raging against the darkness, or crying into our pillows. We miss you, sleep.
“I’m really, really awake, and I don’t know what to dooooo.” – For the love of all things good, please just go back to sleep. If you can’t sleep, read a book to yourself. But please let us sleep now, it’s 3am.
“I don’t have any company. You and Daddy get to sleep together, but I’m all alone.” – Heartbreaking, but you won’t fit in our crowded bed. When your sister gets older you can share your room and complain about it to her from the top bunk.
“Daddy, you have to put the toilet seat DOWN when you’re done!” – After a bathroom break at 2 in the morning. Normally she goes back to bed right away. This time she had to come and tell us about her irritation with the toilet seat. She has a point, daddy. This could be my favourite one… who knew it started so early?
“I’m lonely.” – Actual translation: I’ve run out of plausible reasons to be awake and this is my last ditch effort to get you up. That doesn’t make you feel any better to hear it from your four-year-old daughter. When did she learn what lonely means?
I know that I’ve missed a lot of great excuses for not sleeping, but I’m generally too incoherent in the middle of the night to remember some of the amazing things she says to us when she wakes up. If we’re in bed it’s usually her dad that tucks her back in, because as soon as I move the baby magically knows that I’ve left the room and wakes up, and that’s the last thing we want in the middle of the night.
At least I know where she gets that feeling of ‘when I sleep I miss out on everything amazing that’s happening!’ I feel exactly the same way most of the time. I’ve just learned to ignore it, and have spent enough hours of the night awake, bored, and lonely to know that usually I’m not missing out on anything.