Nothing But Socks and Underwear

I know that I have been a little obsessed with sleep lately, but that is mostly because I was not getting a whole lot of it.  I liken it to the forbidden fruit.  Great, now I’m craving apples and a nap.  Fortunately, things seem to be moving in the right direction for us in the sleep department.  Finally.

As you know, I had tried almost everything to get Kid E to stay in bed.  His most recent major complaint was that the night “is a very, very, very long time” and he was “getting bored with it.”  Whenever I took the positive reinforcement route and said that I just knew he was going to have a good night, he would assure me that he planned to “try (his) best,” which of course was code for “see you at 3 a.m.”  This kid plays dirty and is wicked smart, so I finally decided that I was going to have to fight fire with fire.

I played the Santa Claus card.

Inspiration hit me last week when the Target Holiday Toy Sale catalog arrived in the mail.  Kid E started going through it page by page and he told me he wanted everything.  Except for the pink pages because, apparently, he is a very manly four-year-old.  He pointed to each and every boy toy in the book and said, “…and I want this and this and this.  OH!  And I want this too.  This is so so so cool.”  Even when I pointed out that we had one of the toys, just in a different color (not pink), he insisted that he needed it.  He was already becoming brainwashed by commercials and catalogs.

I started to remind him that Christmas is supposed to be about giving and not just gimme! gimme! gimme! and then I had a brilliant idea.

I mean, really, what kid is going to take the chance?

“That’s a great wish list that you’ve got going there so far.  We’ll have to be sure to write it all down and send it in a letter to Santa at the North Pole,” I began.  I noticed his eyes lighting up so I sold it even harder,”… and we can ask him about his reindeer and the elves and if he is ready for his long trip on Christmas Eve.  And then we can tell him how big you are getting and how good you have been lately.  We can tell him that you have been sleeping through the night and…”

Kid E’s face fell.  I knew that I had him.  I just had to bring it on home.

“Oh no,” I said.  “That won’t work, will it?  Since you keep getting out of bed, either at bedtime or in the middle of the night, we can’t really tell Santa that you have been very good this year, can we?  And do you know what Santa brings for little kids who aren’t very good?  No toys.  No games.  No treats.”

Kid E had heard something from someone before.  “Coal.  Santa brings coal to bad kids, right?” he said with despair.

I had told the older kids the coal story for years.  I even have a bag of coal that I keep in with the Christmas decorations so they run across it every year when we break out the boxes.  The story goes that Sheepdog was really bad one year (he was eighteen and the dummy went out and got an earring and a tattoo), so Santa brought him nothing but coal that Christmas.  The moral of that story: don’t be an idiot teenager.  But I was now dealing with a toddler and I needed more firepower.

I held a steady face and continued, “Sometimes Santa does not even bring coal.  Sometimes for the bad little kids he brings just socks.  Socks and underwear.  And not even the fun underwear with Nemo or Buzz Lightyear or skulls and crossbones on them.  He just brings tighty whiteys and tube socks.  And they’re not even wrapped.”

When I looked into Kid E’s horrified, big eyes, I saw fear like I have never seen before.  I had a twinge of guilt for causing him such panic, but I quickly remembered that he had brought it upon himself and I was slowly turning into a zombie.  The madness had to end.  I needed to sleep through the night.

Now, every night after Sheepdog reads him a book and tucks him into his comfy bed, I tiptoe in to kiss him and say goodnight and before I leave the room I whisper softly, “Socks and underpants, little man.  Stay in bed.  I love you.”

Mmm-mmm-mmm, this is a very good apple.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday.  It was also a Monday, so it was laundry day, grocery shopping day and Kid A had an interview in midtown at 7PM, so she and Sheepdog were not home for dinner.  Best birthday ever, you say?  Wait… it gets better.

The day started around 12:15AM when Kid E moseyed into our bedroom and asked to cuddle with me.  As I took him by the hand and led him back to his own room, I cursed him silently for waking me.  This back-and-forth routine continued over the next three hours.  The silent cursing did not last long.  Every time I would start to fall asleep again, Kid E would tap me on the shoulder.  By the hundredth time I felt like I was being tortured.  On one trip back to his bed I told him congratulations on giving me the worst birthday present ever.

His confused response was, “But I didn’t even get you a present.”

If somebody is up during the night I always try my best not to disturb Sheepdog, because he has to get up early and go to a real job.  By 3:45AM I was exhausted, infuriated, desperate, and on the verge of tears.  I no longer cared about Sheepdog and his stupid job.  So the next time Kid E came in I ignored him.  Sheepdog finally heard him (“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom…”  Seriously, how does the man NOT wake up?) and he jumped out of bed.

“WHAT?” whisper-yelled Sheepdog.

“I have to pee,” said Kid E, very matter-of-factly, with a hint of “What would you have me do…urinate in my bed?  I’m no savage!”  So Sheepdog took him to the bathroom and then back to his room.  At last, the kid was sleepy enough to stay in there.

“Happy Birthday, ” Sheepdog whispered to me when he came back.  “I’m sorry you’ve had a crappy night.”

“I’m thinking of moving out,” was my very serious response.  I don’t remember if I dreamed over the next three hours, but if I did it was probably about locking myself behind multiple doors with heavy deadbolts.

I wish for world peace. And for skinny thighs.

I woke up later to Kid D screaming that his stomach hurt as he was running past me into my bathroom.  “I don’t feel so good,” he sighed as he crawled in bed next to me.  I didn’t even care if he had washed his hands first.

As I was zombie-walking down the hall to put Kid C onto the elementary school bus, I realized that Kid B had overslept and she would need a ride to school.  This keeps getting better.

Actually, it did get better.  Kids A, B and C went off to school.  Kid D felt fine, so I dropped him off as well when I was taking Kid E to preschool.  Then I went home and collapsed until I decided to make my own birthday cupcakes for dinner.

Sleep is a funny thing.  I am a girl who needs a good nine hours, so I rarely hit my mark.  I make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends (Shout out! Sheepdog for helping me do that) and taking occasional naps.  You’d think I would be used to interrupted rest after having five babies, but I never adjusted.  The cumulative effect of sixteen years of sleep deprivation has left an indelible mark on my personality.  I’m meaner and even more sarcastic.  I have even been known to growl on occasion.  I have to use more under eye concealer.  It is not a good thing.

It is a good thing that Kid E has some sixth sense thing happening, because he was one more sleepless night away from being put up for auction on eBay.  Last night he went to bed without incident and then slept through the entire night.  I am a different person today than I was yesterday.

Today I feel like I can take on the world.  Today I feel like I am a Disney Princess and everyone around me is a singing animal.  Today I am She-Ra, Princess of Power.  Today I feel like Wonder Woman and Laura Croft and Buffy the Vampire Slayer all rolled into one, except not all fit and and wearing some sexy ass-kicking costume because I’ve just been too tired to work out lately.

But today I have the energy to fix that!  I’m gonna go work out right now.  Then I’ll probably take a nap, because who knows what tonight will hold.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…