Friday, September 04, 2009

Easy does it...

I did some searching through my old blog posts this morning, looking for this one (scroll down to June 22, 2006). I needed to read it, and to read all the sweet and supportive comments that were made over 3 years ago.
Why? Max is now over 8, and for a while he slept well and was happily going off to bed on his own. His love of reading really helped - he would take a huge pile of books with him, and eventually fall asleep in the middle of them.

Things have not been so easy in recent months. Our little boy is now scared to be in his bedroom, even with the light on, and even though most nights one of us volunteer to be in there with him. As he goes to sleep, he hears noises, or gets strange feelings in his legs and arms. He desperately wants to and tries to go to sleep on his own, but ends up getting up with the excuse of needing a drink of water, or another book. After a half a dozen or so attempts, he is in tears and cuddles up with me in a lounge chair and falls asleep. Or Pete offers to lie down with him, until he is asleep. Without fail, every night by 1am he is in our bed.
Intellectually, I know that there are lots of reasons for his sleeping problems, going way back to an illness when he was very small.. and of course lots of guilty ways that we as parents are contributing to it. But emotionally we know that he is our son, who is smart, unique and sensitive, and while we can be here for him, we will.
Our society's expectation that children will sleep on their own in their own room is such an affluent, Western ideal. As adults we feel safe, secure and happy with another warm body to sleep next to, so why are we expecting our children to toughen up and be self-reliant?
The wrigging and kicking... that could be why ;). Anyway, this all reminded me of a beautiful poem by Bruce Dawe, which is not at all about sleep, but I'll share it anyway.

Easy Does It
- Bruce Dawe

I have to be careful with my boy
When he says tree it comes out hazy
very green and friendly and before I've got
the meaning straight he's up there laughing in it,
or working on the word for aeroplane
which is also a little above his head
so that he has to stand on tiptoe to touch it
-for him it does Immelmanns to order,
but when I try it becomes suddenly
only a model in a museum with props that slowly turn
when the button is pushed and a cutaway section
to show the engine in action…
I have to be careful with my boy,
that I don’t crumple his immediate-delivery-genuine-fold-up-and-extensible world
into correct English forever, petrify its wonder
with the stony gaze of grammar, or turn him into
a sort of Sunday visitor at the lakeside
who brings bags of specially-prepared bread-crusts to feed
to swans who arch their necks and hiss.

Poloroid photo made at


ngaire bartlam said...

As the mama of an (now) eleven year old who wont be going to camp for the monday to wednesday of next week... because her anxiety levels are in over drive, and it would be torturing her to make her go, can I just say.. You do the right thing for YOU and for your kids. I totally support your decision to raise each of your children in a way that is perfect for them.
One day.. he will be able to sleep by himself. and that same day.. you will miss the baby he is now.. you need to justify your cuddles to no one.


Giovanna said...

I can feel your pain Loretta. I know my boys love sleeping in the same room and when they share a bed I am loathe to separate them. It just looks right. Max knows what he needs, and he needs his parents' bed (unfortunately LOL) just as my 6yo needs to wake at 1am and turn all the lights on....ah, parenthood!!

Amanda Reddicliffe said...

I hear ya! It's 5am, not 1am in our house. You sound like you and your hubby are doing a perfect job though to help him through this delicate phase. He'll get there. xx

Kath, Mark, Ruby and Max. said...

Poor wee Max.

Every living soul needs something different and hallelujah for that.

It sounds like your Max is a sweet gentle boy who is very well loved by sweet gentle parents.

I don't think it's fair to expect kids to be self resilient and to tough it out. They are only little for such a short time and should get all the love and positive attention a parent can give them. And in my humble opinion, it's love and support and encouragement that makes children strong, not forcing them to tough it out.

My Max is very nearly 5 and there's not been a single night he's gone into his bed to go to sleep. Later in the night we move him into a bed that's set up for him in his sister's room, but I can't imagine when the day will come that he is happy to sleep in a room on his own. And right now, we're all happy with that.

While it's sad to hear that your Max is scared of the night, it's a blessing that he feels comforted and secure with you and Pete.

Just do what you do. Don't worry about what other people think or say.


The Garden Bell said...

Very cute. Just found you again over on the Lucy Attic 24 Flickr group when I saw your great pillow. I remember seeing you a while ago. But, at the time I wasn't blogging... Now, I am... and like a mad women. Hope you don't mind if I follow along.

random thoughts said...

Our 8 year old daughter has never been a 'good' sleeper. I can count on both hands (and have some fingers left over) the number of times she has slept in her bed. We've been through the new bed, new colour scheme, new decorations, relaxation music and yet every night before bed she asks "do I have to sleep in my bed?".

She prefers the couch, the floor, the homemade cubby under the kitchen table, the tent... We have given up and refute the western ideal. She now sleeps where ever she is going to be at peace.

You know what is best for your child and your family continue to believe in that and everything will be ok.


Ashok said...

Sleep makes the mind and body fresh. The beginning for all the problems in the body is lack of sleep. If a person does not have proper sleep, then there is some problem with his mind or body. Sleep apnea is basically a condition that affects most people causing them to stop breathing for around 10-20 seconds as they sleep. The sleep apnea cannot be identified by the same person since it occurs during sleep. So if someone complaints about you for snoring, inform your partner or your family member who sleeps along with you to notice your sleeping condition during sleep. If you had sleep apnea, there are lots of medical procedures and devices to cure sleep apnea in a natural way.

Admin said...

What type of sleep problem he has? I know a child who has sleep paralysis with sleep apnea syndrome, and has very lively dreams, mostly when he falls asleep or when he wakes up in the morning. So is it sleep paralysis? Sleep terrors can be temporarily, but in this situation it could be something different.