Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Parental Sleep Deprivation

When Hot Wife and I were relative newlyweds and in the throes of contemplating procreation, my brother-in-law, David, warned me that I should be prepared not to sleep through the night until our last child is five years old. David is exceptionally cool and funny and filthy rich and I once ate escargots because he challenged me to. It’s not my usual practice to doubt him, except on the snails. But in this case, perhaps out of self-preservation, I assumed he was exaggerating.

He wasn’t.

I’ve been thinking a lot about David’s prophetic insight over the last week, usually at around 4 a.m., when Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son crawls over my head, kicks me in the left ball and wiggles his way into bed between Hot Wife and me.

Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by a boy one-third your size who requests that you march out to the kitchen and get him some Frosted Mini-Wheats and a sippy cup full of milk. The request on its own merit seems innocuous enough. Your first instinct is to tell the child to go back to sleep or the boogeyman will eat him. But then you recall that the child has a penchant for wailing at the top of his lungs like a seal taking a beating with a Louisville Slugger, a whiney howl so loud and pathetic that it sends a posse of pajama-clad neighbors running to your front door with machetes and frying pans cocked and ready to disembowel the purported abuser inside. So you dutifully drag your sleepy ass to the kitchen and get the boy his fucking cereal.

I have tried passionately to dissuade the child from waking me in this manner. We made a chart with 14 boxes on it. Every time the child went out to the living room to watch Zaboomafoo instead of going to his parents’ bedroom to re-enact the baby seal routine, he would receive a sticker in another box. When all 14 boxes were decorated, the child and his father went together to the driving range and dinner, without the girls. We called it “Boys Night” (which starkly contrasts the "Boys Night" I enjoyed in college, whereupon my dorm buddies and I drank Coors Light, ate pizza and watched porn until the wee hours of the Fresno morning -- ah, the glory of youth).

All was well for a while after the sticker strategy was implemented, but now the early morning interruptions have resumed. I’m not about to do the sticker thing again because I’m not looking for a band-aid solution. I want the child to feel my pain. If daddy can’t sleep, the child can’t sleep either. That’s why I bought the air horn. Around midnight tonight, I’m going to sneak into the child’s room and sound a long, calamitous horn blast, presumably motivating the child to involuntarily move his bowels.

When the child is resuscitated, I will explain to him that I shocked him awake and permanently damaged the hearing in his right ear out of love. I will also tell him that I didn’t want to have to resort to more extreme measures, like taking away his Matchbox cars or revoking his right to live in our home rent-free.

And then I will go back to bed.


At 1:34 PM, Blogger Shiz said...

Cool. Do it. Do it for parents everywhere.

At 2:07 PM, Blogger sevans said...

If I remember correctly, David said six years old. Sorry.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger plydog said...

Have you ever tried crate training? Works like a charm for dogs, and kids aren't much different. Just give 'em a kiss on the forehead at night, secure the latch and sleep well in the knowledge that they are safely out of harm's way until you grant their freedom.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Come on parents, haven't you guys heard about locks on bedroom doors. Lock the sucker, and just let him beat on the outside. I know it will keep you awake, but eventually he will leave you alone ( and proceed to the kitchen to make a guaranteed mess on his own as a lesson to YOU).
You could even paint the door with adhesive and glue on bits of broken glass, effective on stopping the head ramming against the locked door but winding you up in ER and eventually child services court explaining things. Probably not the right modifications.
But, you trained him. Take credit for it.

At 7:38 AM, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

I like the crate idea better - you can bet one of the big ones, put in the blankie and pillow, and just rest assured that your child is safe. Great idea, that way they don't roam the house.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger HDawg said...

sleep? what the hell is sleep? lately when i sleep past 6am, i feel victorious!! you haven't lived until you've snoozed on the couch while your 1 or 2 or 3-year old watches "Zabu" on the toob!

At 10:17 AM, Blogger honestyrain said...

been there, done that, bought the tshirt, sent the postcard, complained bitterly about the food they served.... i've got another 4.5 years according to Mrs. Evans. that's when my youngest will be 6. what will be left of me then???

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Fiber said...

Am I the only one here missing the obvious?? Benadryl-spiked milk right before bed. Either that, or a few slugs of Dimetapp.
Let's think, people.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Cube said...

Excellent blog.

At 7:54 PM, Blogger Libraryhill said...

Mine are 10 and 12. I had forgotten all about that toddler middle-of-the-night hell. Being able to sleep through the night for the past few years has numbed that pain.


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