I asked my friend who moved away last week how her kids liked their new school. She said aside from her youngest, who generally grumbles about school, they like it OK. I laughed to myself. My youngest grumbled about school until the day she started college. The memory makes me painfully aware that our children’s phases have nothing to do with their parents.
I was reminded of when she was in the infant/toddler years. Still in a crib, too small for a bed. She never slept through the night. No matter what self-help books I read about solving my child’s sleep problems or what methods I tried, she just wasn’t having it. It was a shock to me, because there were moments with her older sister, when I felt like I rocked the parenting thing. She was always a good sleeper. I thought all those rumors about sleepless nights must’ve been the parents’ fault. Her biggest sleep problem was when she lost her pacifier, which was I solved by weaning her off it. Then my youngest was born.
She never wanted a pacifier, never wanted to sleep at night, or nap during the day. She was pretty certain we were partying after she went to bed. It made me crazy. What could a mother do to convince a child her family went to bed every night, even mom and dad? It may have had to do with her Velcro beginnings. When we brought her home from the hospital she couldn’t lay down flat because she had reflux and would spit up, so we had to keep hold her while one of us slept in a chair to keep her upright. Then she got jaundice and a nurse brought a light box to our house with a bilirubin belt attached to a six foot cable. She was literally attached to someone during her first months of life.
Out of ideas when she reached 1 1/2, I put her in a big girl bed. It was a low futon frame with a regular mattress. She was free to get up on her own and check for late night parties and special events. Then she could crawl back into bed after she was assured of everyone’s bedtime compliance. We slept well ever since. Though these days sleep is her favorite activity and she doesn’t to want to get up in the light of day.
She warmed to school the same way she warmed to sleep. She complained about middle school until it was over, then bemoaned the fact she didn’t appreciate it enough. She whined through high school until she took art classes her last two years, then the injustice of the early morning start time was the target of her discontent.
She took a quarter off after she graduated. When she started at a technical college the following winter, a whole new world of education was opened to her. One where she could choose what she wanted to do. Even a morning class didn’t sway her, as she figured out how to juggle them with her vampire-hour ways. She went to bed late enough to enjoy the stillness of the night, but early enough to awake for school. She figured out how to shower, put her makeup on, and get out the door in a shorter amount of time. After her morning class she came home and took a nap because the next day’s classes were in the afternoon.
Though she’s no longer complaining about school and she likes to nap, she still doesn’t like to sleep at night. And if I wake up in the middle of the night I still check to see if she’s gone to bed yet.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. You can read more of her writing and her blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com, follow her on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh by Gretchen Leigh”or on Twitter @livewithgleigh. Her column is also available at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Life section.