There aren’t a lot of ‘middle’ children who can boast of having their own room – while their siblings share one. I don’t know this for sure, but I’m guessing since the words ‘middle child’ have become synonymous with being overlooked, under-appreciated and practically forgotten, that it must be true.
But at our house, the ‘middle child’ now has his own room. And the six year old and the eight month old share a room.
It’s part of our latest attempt at trying to get three boys asleep before ten o’clock at night; until seven o’clock in the morning. Operation Take Back the Evening consists of a three-pronged approach. One, isolate the ringleader so that the other two can sleep in relative peace. Two, sleep deprive the ringleader so that he will be more likely to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. Three, darken their bedrooms so as to make them think it’s ‘night’. All the time.
Basically it means the Hen is now sleeping in his baby brother’s room-let. And there are trash bags and blankets covering their bedroom windows. And the Hen is no longer allowed to take a nap in the day. Which he sorely needs, because he only gets about nine hours of sleep a night. Which anyone will tell you is not a sufficient amount of sleep for a two and a half year old.
But Operation Take Back the Evening isn’t a Hollywood movie with a nice and tidy Hollywood ending. Otherwise we’d have had four peaceful nights and well-rested boys. In our real-life version, the first two days were a relative success. We managed to survive supercrankytired Hen. And he fell asleep before 7.30pm. But on Sunday, supercrankytired Hen reared his head at 1pm and we knew there was no way we could survive that for six hours. So he napped. And that night he fell asleep..by ten. Which means on Monday mid-morning he was back to being..supercrankytired.
The Operation was headed for catastrophic failure. So I determined yesterday to keep him awake. No matter what. Even if it meant taking him and his baby brother to the grocery store(s) right in the middle of lunch-nap time. Which is how I got to stand in line at the Co-op with a screaming baby, while some guy argued with the cashier about the amount of stamps he needed to get a (crappy) free frying pan. If I were Elaine from Seinfeld I’d have taken the pan and smacked him on the head with it. Whilst yelling ‘there’s your free pan!’ Or something like that.
We picked up the Gort from Kindergarten. We played at the playground. We’d made it to 3.30pm with nary a nap and I thought we were in the clear. But then we drove to the University to pick up the professor. And there was a ten minute car ride. And, next thing we knew, our cherub was fast asleep.
No matter, I thought, it’s just a ten minute catnap, he’ll wake up when we get out of the car, and that will be that. But he didn’t. Jason put him down on the couch, figuring that would force him to wake up. But he didn’t. He opened his eyes for a nanosecond and closed them again. Dead-to-the-world asleep.
The rest of us went about our business while he lay on the couch in a toddler-coma. I made hummus. We put the baby down for a nap. The Gort, the professor and I sat at the table eating hummus and pita bread and cut up fruit and vegetables. (And a cut-up Mars bar.) We finished our snacks and the kid was still asleep. It was already after 4.30, so I went over to the couch – ostensibly to see if I could wake him up.
Next thing I knew, I was dead-to-the-world asleep. Lying beside my second-born on four inches of couch. Somewhere in the semi-awake part of my brain, I heard a six year old voice say, ‘want a pistachio,’ as he shoved one in my mouth. I chewed, obediently, as I willed my eyes open and, with bleary vision, saw a little clump of raisins perched upon the Hen’s chest. Apparently the (bored, awake) six year old had taken to feeding his slumbering household.
I heard a semi-snoring sound and turned my head sideways. The professor was lying on the floor, next to the couch. Dead-to-the-world asleep. It was 5.30. I worried the poor baby was lying in his crib crying and no one had rescued him. But he was fast asleep too.
The Operation had bombed. And it was going to be a very late night chez Johnson. Unfortunately the professor would have to shoulder the burden of three very-awake-children alone.
I ‘had’ to go to book club.