From bedtime battles to magic moments
BATTLES at bedtime can be very wearing. I cannot understand how a three-year-old who wakes up every morning at 7am and keeps going for 12 hours without a break, can then insist on solving jigsaws or playing trains instead of going to bed in the evening.
Gary has slept in my bed on and off since he was born. Mostly on rather than off. Maybe that was a mistake, the jury is still very much out on whether kids should sleep in the same bed as their parents, but for my own sanity I recently had to get him out.
I decided to do up his room and so I painted it blue and got a new bed, curtains and shelves for all his toys. He was delighted at first. He even volunteered to go to bed by himself on his first night in his new room.
I settled down in my own room with a book, delighted that I could now keep the light on without wondering if it was disturbing him. I was also looking forward to a peaceful sleep without being kicked at least 12 times by my restless son.
But the euphoria didn't last long unfortunately. At 6am, Gary was up singing with the birds and standing in my doorway. I rubbed my eyes and stared at the clock. 6am. Oh God, no.
I didn't reply.
"Mummy, why are you not talking?"
"Because I'm asleep," I growled.
I rolled over. He got into bed beside me and I didn't have the energy to put him back into his own bed.
"Let's play with Fireman Sam," he suggested.
I continued to ignore him. I'd read in a parenting book that if you want your child to sleep you can't stimulate them at all. That means no cuddling, talking or playing with Sam or anyone else.
Eventually he did doze off and so did I.
The following evening, I got into Gary's bed and read him a story. But one wasn't enough.
"Another one!" he exclaimed.
"Okay, just one more," I relented. But he would have had me reading all night. Eventually I lay down beside him and starting humming a boring, mindless tune. I saw my son's eyes closing. I was winning!
After a few minutes of nearly sending myself to sleep with my monotonous humming, I attempted to sneak out of the room.
"Mummy! Where you going?"
My heart sank. No! I had to get back into the bed and obey my order to 'stay'.
As I lay there stroking Gary's hair, I was reminded of when I used to stay in my grandmother's house. She would do the same thing to me. I used to ask her to stay with me until I fell asleep. She always did and it made me feel safe and loved.
And so I now try to remember this when my own child asks me to stick around when he's going to bed at night.
He won't be young forever and one day I'm sure that I will be barred from his teenage room. But for now, I'm his everything. I am the mummy who fixes everything and makes his little world safe and happy.
I should enjoy it while it lasts.