Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why is he awake?

An unsettling premonition has crept up on me in recent months.

No, it's not about the 2012 election, though that keeps me up at night, too. My terror du jour is more localized.

I live gripped by the fear that the Grape will soon require less sleep than I do.

And no, I'm not some self-indulgent freak who needs to spend more than half her life slumbering.

But I don't function well on less than seven or eight hours a night. I never have, and I never will. When faced with more than two consecutive sleepless nights, I find myself reduced to an incoherent, unhinged and generally unpleasant specimen of the human species.

I have a friend from college who thrived on three to four hours a night and still does, twenty years on. I'm insanely jealous, but I'm also mature enough to understand there's no way to train my body to do more with less. Short of becoming a coke head, I suppose.

Not tempting.

Which is why I worry that there's no legitimate way to train my kid to need more z's.

I should have known it couldn't last. R. and I were so pleased when, after a very rocky first half year, we trained the Grape to sleep. We don't have the bedtime smack downs described by many of my parent friends, and while I see the humor in the bestselling Go the Fuck to Sleep, I don't share the author's particular brand of frustration.

But what to do when he obliges us by going down and staying down, just not for the length of time required by other members of this household?

It's not like things are anywhere near dire. The Grape sleeps through the night like a champ. But his nights have compressed in recent months. Where he used to snooze for eleven hours as recently as July, now he conks out for a mere nine and a quarter. He can stay up past his bedtime by two hours, and still wake at the usual time the next morning. More frightening: the loss of two hours doesn't render him an emotionally volatile disaster. Like his mom.

I believe the Grape should take a nap every day. His body needs that afternoon recharge. And frankly, I need him to need it. Once or twice a week, he sacks out for nearly three hours. I have to wake him, groggy, to face the evening so he won't sleep through and wake at midnight, ready to party. But most days, he naps about ninety minutes, and that spell, like the overnight that has my knickers in a twist, is on a shrinking trend. He fights his nap more fiercely lately, and more than once in a typical week, he won't log more than thirty minutes of daytime shut eye.

Why am I worried about this now? I mean, the writing is on the wall. I should try to carry on until the inevitable sad day when the other shoe drops.

But you see, tomorrow he will try to nap at his preschool for the first time.

I predict one of two things will happen. In the rosy/dream scenario, he will see the other children curl up on their cots and close their eyes, and he'll decide that napping is cool. It could happen, right?

In the doomsday scenario, I'll get a call from the director of the school, who will order me to collect my kid pronto, because his refusal to settle down is interfering with the other children's rest.

His teachers tried to reassure me yesterday, when I expressed doubt that he'll sleep for them. They said that school tires the little kids out. They asked, "Didn't he go right to sleep when you took him home from the half days last week?"

Um, nope. He had some lunch, hit the playground, took Lila the Dog for a short walk around our neighborhood, had a snack, had a story and took a comprehensive inventory of his toys. Finally, four hours after his abridged (and allegedly oh-so-exhausting) school day ended, he rubbed his eyes and yawned, and happily went to his crib to sleep.

For almost an hour.

Yup. Tomorrow should be pretty interesting.

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