Despite the fact that he is now four, we continue to deal with Kid E getting out of bed and wandering into our bedroom in the middle of the night. He does not do this every night, but probably two or three nights a week he will come into our room when we are in the deepest of R.E.M.s and stand over one of us (usually me) without so much as a word like Snoopy’s vulture character, with only his piercing stares jarring me out of sleep in a fight or flight mode that can only be replicated at point-blank range or by the Blair Witch Project.
He will then crawl into bed between us. And by “between” I mean practically underneath me with his big, fat, hard skull jammed into my lower back. The position is so awkward that it is actually Cirque du Soleil-worthy. And it is not exactly conducive to me falling back to sleep, nor is the adrenaline surge caused by being suddenly woken up out of a dead sleep. But he mumbles in his sweet baby boy voice that he woke up lonely and he wants to cuddle and how can you say no to that? And then he gently strokes my cheek while simultaneously sucking his thumb and tells that he loves me. I am such a sucker for the sweet-talking boys, so I let him stay. When he falls back to sleep I will ever so gently carry him back to his own bed, tuck him in and then start the painstaking toss and turn dance that awaits my stupid forty-year-old body and mind.
But I have had it. I do not like having my sleep interrupted. And I have tried everything with this kid. He says he’s lonely, so I give him stuffed friends to sleep with. He says he needs something to drink, so I give him a small glass of water. Inevitably he then says he needs to pee, so I take him to the bathroom. I threaten, cajole, reason, plead. I have used positive reinforcement and negative punishment. I have been unrelenting in carrying him back without a word every single time he comes into my room, even when he does it fifty times in a single night. I have occasionally let him crawl in without ever waking up. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. And the absolute most annoying part is that Kid E claims that he remembers nothing about getting up in the middle of the night.
Maybe there’s something wrong with him. Maybe he has some sleepwalking zombie disorder. Maybe he’s just a stubborn little monkey. I do not know, but he just might be the kid who breaks me.
Every single morning he comes into my room and with sleepy eyes and a gravelly voice, he asks, “How did I do last night?”
I was awake for well over two hours in the middle of the night.
“You are killing me here, kid. You don’t remember coming into my room at 2:30 in the morning?”
“Um, no. What did I do?”
At this point, I believe that he has either decided that playing dumb will get him a lesser sentence, or he’s gambling that maybe I am so tired/ old that I’ll forget everything. Either way, he is like a black-out drunk friend from college who needs a recap of all of the events from the previous evening. It can get annoying. He also has taken to defending his actions from the night before, sometimes creatively, but usually with very matter-of-fact explanations.
“Dude, you were awful last night. You tried to get in bed with me and when I took you straight back to your room you insisted that you needed something to drink.”
He almost laughed in relief. Then he looked me straight in the eye and said with complete conviction, “Mom, sometimes thirsty happens.”
I almost expected a “duh” to follow, but he is good at reading an audience and left it off this time. And in my sleep-deprived haze his justification seemed completely legitimate.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…