Ask any parent of small children what they miss most from their pre-children days?
Sleep. Glorious, beautiful sleep.
Now, I’m not an idiot. I knew the sleep-sacrifice tradeoff when we started our family.
But I have been spoiled beyond belief in the sleep department. My 3-year-old started sleeping through the night when he was just 8 weeks old, and I can count how many times he’s woken me up in the night since he turned 1 on one hand.
Try not to hate me.
Anyway, I also know that, with another baby coming this summer, my little sleep bubble was going to burst — big-time.
So, color me surprised when my nocturnal interruptions arrived five months early.
On the first night of this fantastic new phase, my toddler came out of his room at 5 a.m., saying he had “bonked his head.” I assumed he meant he fell out of his bed and calmly walked him back to bed, tucked him in and lay with him for a few minutes until he drifted off.
On the next night at about the same time, I awoke to my boy standing over me in the dark. And just as a side note, it’s not creepy at all that every child younger than 6 breathes with the ferocity of a mythical dragon — seriously, why do they all pant like serial killers?
This time his story was that he fell and hurt his leg. I had my suspicions, but did my motherly duty and repeated the routine from the previous night.
By the third night — this time at 3 a.m. — he said it was too dark in his room. My first thought, after cursing the sleep gods, was that his nightlight burned out. No such luck: That baby was still burning as bright as a Christmas tree when we got into his room.
“It was too dark, huh?” I asked him.
“It was,” he nodded sagely.
We climbed back into his bed and I snuggled up to him, planning on a max of 10 minutes before I slinked back to my room.
It wasn’t more than six minutes into us being snuggled in when my son, eyes closed, pulled the blanket out of his mouth and said, “You can go now.”
I was shocked, because I knew in that moment that for the past three nights I totally got played. Touché, toddler, touché.
But a word of advice, little man: When your baby brother or sister comes along, those screams will wake up the whole household at night. Sweet dreams, Stinker.
— Sarah Leach is editor of The Holland Sentinel. Contact her at email@example.com or find her on Twitter at @SentinelLeach.