Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Kid's Too Smart to Sleep

My Mom has a theory about baby sleep. The more intelligent the baby, the more difficult it is for that child to sleep. I think it is based on something about the amount of brain activity, processing of their surroundings and a desire to solve complex problems at an early age. It's not entirely illogical, but....her prime example is that my brother rarely slept (so very smart) and I slept a little better (smart, but not quite Kyle.) Don't worry, my self esteem about my intelligence was in no way damaged by this theory.

Now, I have yet to read this theory in any of my pile of sleep books I have purchased since the birth of my first child in an effort to find the step by step process that would end the horrible sleep patterns of my children, but I'm not going to completely discount it since my children will be geniuses based on the first few years of their lives. Sorry if you have a child that sleeps really well and this is a potentially upsetting theory, but those of us that don't have sleepers really need to hold on to the hope that someday our kids are going to out smart your lethargic children so we don't strangle our kids when we are getting up with them for the fifth time at 3 am. I bet your kids will be just fine...or I will try to encourage mine to try to find a place for them at their fortune 500 company.

Lately this theory (and a carefully thought out plan I have for my boys' teenage years of tormenting them when they would like to sleep until noon) is the only thing keeping me from waking Alex and telling him to just hop in the car with me and abandon them. If my children aren't the smartest kids around then I don't know what all this sleeplessness is about. Aiden had a rough first few years, but then after that he has fallen into a pleasant pattern of no nap, but mostly reasonable and easy bedtime, followed by a full solid night's rest. It's fantastic. Cole unfortunately had a rough first two years off and on and now is still periodically fighting sleep, waking at night multiple times crying and then feels like 5 am is the perfect time to start the day. It really makes me dislike his overactive intelligent brain. Also makes me think I will be quoting my Mom's theory someday with the example that Cole was a really horrible sleeper and Aiden was rough, but not quite as difficult as Cole. So sorry Aiden.

We are currently in the depth of one of Cole's periods of disrupted sleep. We just can't seem to get him into a good groove and it makes me strongly dislike him, and everyone else, when I am as tired as I have been lately from dealing with it. During these cycles I can get mad at Alex just for being tired in the evenings. I usually am the one getting up in the middle of the night and oh yeah....I'm growing a human in my body... so I irrationally feel Alex has no right to ever be tired, much less when Cole is waking up at night. If he even starts to drift off during a TV show in the evening I feel like walking over and hitting him. (Do not be concerned for Alex, I do realize this would be mean, completely crazy and unproductive....but I still think about it.)

During these times I become obsessed with the solution to his sleep problems. I have purchased a stack of books claiming to be able to solve problems much worse than Cole's. As usual I have begun the process of rereading pieces and parts of them all to find an answer. I frantically search through the books, convinced I must have just skipped the paragraph that actually outlines exactly what to do to get my child to sleep from 7 pm to 7 am without disrupting me. I have yet to find it, but I am pretty sure I won't stop trying. I also have determined that Ferber must have just left out my mother's theory about baby intelligence and sleep in an effort to not get any one's hopes up for brains if it doesn't always work.

I become obsessed with what must have spurred the latest string of sleep tormented nights. It seems that the slightest variance from our routine can throw my child off for a week or more. I trace Cole's current problem back to my apathy about their bedtime last Saturday night which, in a moment of weakness, I allowed them to go to bed at 9:30. Stupid me. I also have blamed several nights since on my husband coming home from work before they were in bed, a rarity that I should cherish, but because they get so excited to see him they can't calm down to go to sleep when they should. I also blame Alex, and at times my amazingly wonderful, though sleep troubled mother-in-law. Both of them have crazy dreams and at times disrupted sleep so what choice do I have but to put the blame at least somewhat on this genetic defect that could be fighting with all that intelligence they clearly got from my Mom is the one with the theory so we should get to claim the brains. Other common sources of fault are a disrupted nap, the dog, the sun, Alex making too much noise doing things like walking down the hall, and all the unfinished decorating projects in our house....I mean, it keeps me up so maybe it's rough for Cole too? I said this makes me nuts, right? And yes, poor Alex.

I am probably one of the more annoying people to plan an event with that will cause my children to be away from our house at their exact bedtime, much less an entire night. The very thought of this event will send me into a panic about the sleep problems that will most definitely ensue shortly after or during. The prospect of disrupting sleep, in my mind, makes pretty much everything just not worth doing. I don't like this about myself, but let's be honest, there are probably worse things that I do so what's so bad about me not liking the idea of jacking up my family's sleep?

Last summer I spent months prior to a two week vacation in Greece worrying about how our children would sleep while we were there. A dramatic time change, multiple people in the same bedroom and no strict daily schedule....I was convinced disaster was looming. It ended up being fine, of course, but I have little doubt that the next time we travel to Greece again I will be met with the same anxieties rather than the obvious joy and gratitude I should feel at taking another vacation to a beautiful country with my husband's family. Maybe there is medication for me for this?

Lately I have taken to supplying Cole with melatonin in an effort to get him back on track to sleep. It works in getting him to go to bed, but it doesn't always solve the night waking. I also feel that I might be somehow causing damage to his brain's natural production of this drug...hopefully he's too smart for that to be a problem, I don't need anything else to worry about at night. For now I'm going with my mother-in-law's brilliant words on that one, "if you can't see, put on the glasses." I love her for making me feel like it's ok to drug him if it helps him sleep. She rocks. (Oh, except for her genetic sleep problems which I will still have to feel angry at her for from time to time.)

I know there are lots of solutions to sleep problems if you approach them properly. Any of you mom's reading this are dying to ask me the list of questions about not going into his room anymore, sleep apnea (my Mom's current theory which I dislike so much more than her too smart to sleep one,) letting him cry, making an earlier bedtime, etc. I know it all, I've done it all and frankly any discussion about solutions just makes me feel cranky (or should I say crankier?) Everyone has a solution to a sleep problem that is not their own. I'm dying for Dr. Ferber to swing by Round Rock and just made everything all better, but if you aren't him I don't want to hear it and fuel my frustration. I am resolved to the fact that some kids just are too smart to sleep. Thanks Mom for giving me the excuse.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why am I Infatuated with Teen Vampire Books?

I know, I know.... I haven't written in a while. I would like to say that I have been working on some important tasks or even busy getting ready for this baby (I have only mastered the job of making lists of what needs to be done, though no actual tasks have been completed.) But no, nothing productive has occurred.

I have been reading the Twilight series. Feel free to judge...but only if you have read them or attempted to read them. I think that they are just amazing. A fantastic, fun escape that I am very sad to have finished because I miss it so much. I tried to be embarrassed about reading them (particularly once I discovered that these books are located in the teen novel section of all retailers, usually next to a "Team Edward" t-shirt and a poster of some attractive, half dressed teen movie star posing as a lustful vampire or werewolf) but I truly love them. I really wanted to be purchasing some insightful new novel about changing the world vampire sex there is there? I read all four books in this series in less than 2 weeks and basically went to all extremes to ignore my children, my house, and my husband in order to do it. I wish there were more to read.

I do admit to being a little frightened at how enthralled I was with these books. I couldn't stop thinking about the characters. I first started thinking that there might be something wrong with me when I was peeing and talking to my husband at the same time and wondered if Edward and Bella ever did this. Or when I was talking to a friend about her marriage and I actually tried to use Edward's emotions toward Bella as a parallel in the discussion....oh no! But right before I called to schedule an appointment with my therapist, I found that all the women I talked to that had read them (with one or two exceptions) were just like me. Women I truly respect and admire were feeling just as infatuated with what happens to this crazy teenage couple and their team of vampire friends and family. I met a woman at Aiden's preschool that has always seemed very normal but has read these books three times and even has a group of friends that she reads with and has parties to discuss the books. What is going on?

For me, the joy of being lost in the fantasy of a good romance that never included anything normal like figuring out what to fix for dinner (Edward doesn't even eat human food of course) or how to get their kid to stop peeing in her pants (this was never mentioned in a single discussion between the parents in the it really not a problem at all?) was fantastic. I also never felt the need to cry due to some wonderfully written tragedy that usually would be involved in my set of go-to Oprah's Book Club classics. As a stay at home mom of two and 3/4 kids, it was wonderful to read a book that transported me somewhere else.

What was even more enjoyable was not feeling any sense of inadequacy about my reality in comparison to this story. Nothing is more exciting to me than something that reminds me that my feelings for my husband are pretty amazing and I'm extremely fortunate to have him. (Too bad for him that the reading of these books happened to be when I am 30-32 weeks pregnant and not really in the mood for any extensive displays of this attraction to him. Maybe I'll re-read when our daughter is one?) I did give him the opportunity to watch the two movies currently released on DVD with me and whisper periodically that he loves me more than Edward loves Bella (always required prompting, but I know he really meant it.)

Until the next movie is released this summer or another book is published in this series I have escaped the need to be thinking about these characters all the time, but I really do miss them. I think I am sane again, or as sane as I ever was prior to reading these. However, if you see me out with my giant belly and two little boys, and I have on one of those "Team Edward" t-shirts (because really there is no other team that makes any sense and to any of you Jacob fans, clearly you aren't reading the book properly) while I am re-reading one of these four books while ignoring my kids....try not to judge...but maybe gently suggest I call that therapist after all.