Adventures in Sleeping

 About 5 pm today, I snapped a picture of the Goose napping next to Elizabeth as the two sat in the living room recliner. Adorable indeed, but also proof that our 3-year-old daughter, normally a great sleeper (12 hours a night and 2 hour naps between 1-3 pm or 2-4 pm),  is a bit off her regular routine.

Ever since I left on June 30 for a High School Youth Mission Trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Goose has been scared to take her afternoon naps or “go night, night” in her bedroom, which she has been comfortable with for the last three years. She’s adamantly refused with great protest, including loud cries of  “I DON’T LIKE MY ROOM! IT’S SCARY! I WANT TO SLEEP IN MAMA’S ROOM!” and banging her own head against the side of her bed or a wall if necessary to get what she wants.

Goose, the best we can figure, is afraid that we’re going to leave her just like I left and didn’t come back for a week…even though she now knows I’m home. Although she has been her usual cheerful, sweet and silly self most of the day, Goose has had more frequent moments of detachment distress whenever Elizabeth leaves a room or to run a half hour errand. Despite my return from Honduras this past Thursday, Goose is still insisting on new accommodations and becoming upset when she thinks, “MAMA LEFT!”  Thus I haven’t slept in mine and Elizabeth’s bed in two nights and don’t expect to be anytime soon. I should also mention that although Goose is sleeping in our bed, she is now sleeping less (5-7 hours) and still not taking naps, which makes for a more cranky child–more than what we’re used to experiencing.

On top of this, we have Wally, a nearly 4 month old black lab who, with great whimpers and barks, demands that we tend to his needs whenever we’re asleep (say an outing in the backyard to poop and pee at 6 am) or trying to do something relaxing (chewing on the couch while we’re watching TV or as I try to write this blog post at 10:30 pm.

I’m not complaining, of course. 🙂  Well, I shouldn’t be whining considering that I recently spent a week in one of the poorest countries in the world–a place where parents and their children have nothing more than a dirt or concrete floor to sleep on. I at least have the alternative of sleeping on a nice comfy living room couch or Katie’s bed, which is adorned with colorful cats and a bit shorter in length than I am, but still quite adequate. And we are blessed to have a healthy and loveable pet who is after all a puppy that is learning how to be a dog. We also have a good roof over our heads, plenty to eat, clothes to wear, etc.

So when you put things into perspective with say a family in Honduras or Guatemala or Haiti or Rwanda, there’s absolutely no reason for me to gripe about the current situation as if we were enduring the most horrible plight in the world. That being said, however, Katie’s inability to sleep along with a puppy is frustrating. We’ll get through this situation (it’s a common phase for toddlers) and we’ll have much easier times and far worse challenges ahead. But a child who doesn’t go to sleep is still frustrating as parents all around the world know all too well, which brings up the point of why I’m sharing this in the first place.

Earlier this evening, I ventured out to Borders bookstore to get some down-time and I stumbled across the latest book phenom: Go The F To Sleep. I had heard and read snippets about the concept of the book but hadn’t actually read it till I pulled if off the shelf. Takes less than 5 minutes and in my current state of frustration and weariness, I found the book to be hysterical! It is most definitely a cathartic children’s story for parents meant to provide a humorous escape from the frustrations that come with parenting, even more so when read aloud by Samuel L. Jackson. (By the way, when I arrived home from the bookstore at 9:45 pm, Goose was still awake and, while in our bed, declaring sweetly but firmly that she was not sleepy.)

Some critics believe that the book promotes violence and is demeaning toward children, but those criticisms seem to be over-reactionary and far-reaching to make a valid point. Go The F To Sleep is honest and straightforward, saying in print what most parents think but never utter. Parents know the true consequences of spouting off such phrases in front of children. Elizabeth and I are keenly aware of the damage the words could cause to Goose’s mind and heart. But that doesn’t mean we don’t think, “Please, oh please, sweet child of mine, for the love of God…go the f to sleep” and that thinking such a thing doesn’t make us love Goose any less. Nor does the thought make the words we speak to Goose (something like “Ssshhh, it’s ok” or a line from the Beatle’s Golden Slumbers “Sleep pretty darling and do not cry”) less sincere or a downright lie.

If anything, the thought “go the f to sleep” as much as the book itself is an excellent tool for filtering out what we shouldn’t say, especially if it’s done in good humor and with no intended malice or anger. (It should be noted that I sometimes yell out obscenities while I’m having an anxiety dream, although I’m never quite sure who I’m blessing out.)

To be honest, is reading or owning a copy of Go The F To Sleep any worse than watching PG-13 and R-rated comedies about the perils of parenting or comedians make commentaries, albeit vulgar ones, about the craziness of being a parent? I think not because it’s cathartic.  As long as you don’t exhibit the inane language or behavior in front of your children or stick Go The F To Sleep next to The Cat in Hat and Good Night Moon, no harm, no foul. The critics need to take a chill pill or better yet, a sleeping pill.

The hour is now getting late so if you’ll excuse me, I’m heading upstairs to sleep in my kid’s bed so I can get some f-ing sleep.

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