Monday, March 15, 2010

I've been dumped for someone younger! (Babble)

No, not by my husband.  By my little boy!  My little Quinn who likes to snuggle at night has ditched me for his older sister.  It’s a good thing, probably, but I miss that little warm body in the bed.

About once a week I have an evening rehearsal and my neighbor comes over to put my kids to bed and sit in the house until I get home.   Quinn has never been happy about going to sleep alone, so sometimes I would come back and find him still up with the neighbor waiting for me to arrive, and sometimes he would have passed out wherever he was despite his best efforts to stay awake.  But in the past couple of weeks he figured out a new solution:  Share Aden’s bed.

Aden also loves a good snuggle and seems to like adding a real live boy to the pile of stuffed bunnies she hugs all night.   After a couple of rehearsal evenings in a row the pattern was set.  Quinn now expects to crawl in next to his sister for the night and so far they are both happy about the arrangement.  They giggle and hunker down under the covers and somehow don’t get in each other’s way once they fall asleep.

There are several advantages to this new system.  The first is that Quinn is going to bed at a reasonable hour for a change.  He used to follow me around until I went to bed, no matter how late I stayed up to wash dishes and get the house in order.  His sisters go to bed somewhere between 7 and 8, so this is better.  It also means he gets up in time for breakfast.  In my bed he would just keep sleeping until I scooped him up to put in the car when I drive the girls to school.  Now that he’s in the belly of the squeaky beast he gets up with the girls before 6 in the morning and gets caught up in their squeaky start of the day playtime.

I like not fighting anyone (however small and dimpled) for covers, and stretching out as far as I want in bed, but I miss the company.  I liked the giggle time and the way Quinn nuzzled up behind me as he slept.  I liked seeing his little blond head first thing in the morning and hearing him tell me sometimes that it was daytime outside and I needed to get up.

It’s funny, because I used to feel a bit disapproving of people who let their kids sleep in their bed.  Not disapproving in a harsh way–I just didn’t understand it and couldn’t figure out why anyone wouldn’t correct that right away.  With Aden and Mona I used a co-sleeper when they were first born.  It was nice to have them conveniently within arm’s reach of the bed without being in it.  It made nursing them easier and gave me more opportunity to rest than if I’d had to get up and go to another room in the night to find them. 

When Aden hit the three or four month mark and started sleeping through the night we moved her to the crib.  I waited a couple of extra months past that with Mona just because I was concerned about the girls sharing a room and waking each other up, but that turned out not to be a problem.  They tune each other out as they sleep.  I cried the first night they each spent in the next room and I was left with the monitor next to my bed instead of a baby.  It was hard, but it was for the best.  I believed (and still do) that parents should have privacy in their own bed and kids need to learn to sleep on their own.

But there are few absolutes in parenting, and you can never make assumptions about what things with the next kid will be like.  Quinn has always been a different story.  He was born during my husband’s first deployment and was about 8 months old when his dad came home.  Without Ian in the bed there wasn’t any particular need for privacy, and I had concerns again about possible room sharing issues since three kids in one room seemed like a lot.  I enjoyed having Quinn next to me at night and starting the day with his little hands on my face and his smile as my alarm clock.  He almost never cried and was my happy constant companion.  I didn’t start trying to move him over to his crib until about a month before his dad was supposed to come back from Iraq.

I’m trying to remember now during 2008 and most of 2009 how Quinn slept.  It’s funny how things that consume your life fade when you move past them.  We converted his crib to a toddler bed when he was about 18 months or so, and eventually got him a big kid bed with drawers underneath like his sisters and he was very proud.   With Ian home we tried to get Quinn out of our bed.  I’m remembering a lot of nights where we’d wait for him to pass out next to me and then we’d move him.  There were some nights Ian would give up and sleep downstairs rather than wait Quinn out.  If I wasn’t home at bedtime, Ian reported that Quinn simply went off to his own bed at the same time as his sisters without a fuss.

Quinn had some trouble warming up to his dad when Ian came home from that deployment.  I think he mostly sees Ian as competition for my affection and attention, and he doesn’t like it.  I’m expecting similar problems in the fall when Ian finishes this deployment.  It made simply kicking Quinn out of the bed difficult, because we didn’t want him to resent his dad even more.  How do you convince a child that he’s not being pushed aside in favor of some strange man, when you are literally pushing him aside to make room for some strange man?  I didn’t want his dad’s return to be a bad thing in his mind, but he was happier with the way things were before his dad came back, and part of that was sharing my bed.

In any case, before Ian left again Quinn was pretty good about sleeping in his own bed, but as soon as space opened up next to me at night he slipped back into it.  I don’t sleep well by myself so I didn’t mind.

But now I’m on my own again.  It takes me longer to fall asleep and bad dreams creep in more often without my cuddle boy there to ward them off, but I recognize it’s a step in the right direction.  The fewer things that Quinn has to adjust to when his dad eventually returns, the better for us all.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the new house.  Quinn has a few sleeping options aside from crawling in bed with me or one of his sisters.  He has a little mattress on the floor of his sisters’ room in case he wants to use it, and in his own room he has a new little bunk bed he picked out at Ikea recently.  That makes six different spots to crash upstairs alone so I’m sure something will appeal.  In the meantime, it’s nice watching my kids treat every night like some happy sleepover event.  That’s better than the sweetest of dreams.

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