We are navigating the slippery slope of “bedtime.” We can tell that staying up “late” isn’t a positive approach to the new day, and we have had to handle the mood that comes attached to J the next morning. We also know that sending him to bed “early” is ridiculous because he is almost 18 and no one wants to be told to go to bed at that age. The older one gets, the more one wants someone, anyone to say “your duties for the day are done…go get some rest.” At 18 I would stay up as late as I wanted to…because I could, dagnabbit! It was my right! Let the trumpet of independence sound and if it wakes anyone else up pfffft to them!
Much like I was back then, and like any other grown-up who remembers the feeling, J is completely cranky, annoyed and uncooperative the morning after he’s stayed up late. We are not particularly thrilled either; after all, when J is up during the night, it’s hard to ignore the alternating giggles, monologue, TV sounds, trips to the bathroom, stealthy appearances at the entryway to our room… J doesn’t just exist, he makes his presence felt, so he’s up and we’re alert. We suspect that sometimes J is calculating if he can get away with sneaking down to the kitchen, and the answer to that is NO…85% of the time.
When J is up, one of our eyes is ready to open (the other just flatly refuses until it’s absolutely necessary) and our ears are pricked up. I usually have one foot on the floor, not that that helps much. I usually (selfish of me, I know) try to persuade Dada to get up so that I don’t have to, and it works…some of the time. Other times he’s snoring so at his leisure that I don’t have the heart to interrupt his sleep apnea to send him to check what J is up to (though I do make him turn on his side…I love the man, I want to see him alive the next morning.)
Usually, all it takes for J to turn off his light and pretend to settle down is for me to open the door a crack and say “it’s late. Lights out!” I don’t open the door enough to go into the room because I don’t want to invade his privacy. Since I’m not wearing my glasses in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t be able to tell if he’s got a nudie magazine in hand, but I don’t want him to think that opening the door wide and barging in is OK. The times when he tries to stop me as I leave usually involve the hand motion (which is general enough I can identify it) of summoning me to his bedside.
Not much has changed since the days when he slept in a crib and required breastfeeding every two hours. Correction: a LOT has changed in terms of details involved in these incursions to check on J (thankfully, my breasts no longer figure into this equation except in that I cannot leave them behind because they are attached to me,) but the essence of it remains the same. Pay attention to me. But I don’t WANT to go to sleep. I said I’m not sleepy. You’re so annoying. I need a drink of water. I have to go to the bathroom. Come sit by me. Can I have another kiss goodnight? Do I HAVE to turn off my light? It’s EARLY!!!! The plaintive look that says “a snack would be good right about now” is one I’m especially immune to, even when it comes with the “but I had dinner HOURS ago!!!” look.
This morning TGG reported that J woke him up at around midnight by making a big show of going to the bathroom, turning on every light and hiccuping as he giggled, or giggling as he hiccuped (TGG’s words, not mine.) We asked if he’d gone to check on his brother. Oh, yes, TGG said, and J sent him away with a very curt BYE! A short while later, the same thing happened. TGG got up, went to check on J, and was sent away. A third time, and TGG reacted the same way. By the fourth time, TGG was not worried….he was just plain annoyed.
There is, between the kids, a way of interacting that is exclusive to their relationship. TGG is enough of an authority figure (because he has a car, money and J feels the need to make sure those resources are accessible to him) that J will KNOW when TGG is being serious, and he will respond by behaving as TGG asks. TGG is also enough of a teddy bear that J knows when to tug at his heartstrings to get what he wants. If TGG is worried about J, he will go out of his way to ensure his brother’s comfort. J is aware of this, and knows that a well-timed sniffle, a small pout or a sad look will make TGG more pliant. The hiccups, I presume, was the bait for sympathy, and the trips to the bathroom were for emphasis. TGG, however, didn’t hear any movement from our room and started figuring out that J was making a move for something he wanted at that late hour. That TGG has to get up early to be at work and has witnessed J’s lack of cooperation after night’s such as this one seem to have tipped the scales in favor of firmness.
LIGHTS. OUT. GO. TO. SLEEP.
J, realizing he’d overplayed his hand, opened his eyes “wide as saucers,” dove under the covers and switched the light out. As TGG turned, a voice floated from under the blankets…CEREAL???…and without so much as a NO, TGG closed the door behind him.
We heard about this over coffee this morning after J had left for school. TGG offered this as the explanation for what can only be described as TGG stomping out of his room (with hair reminiscent of Albert Einstein’s, the look of Droopy Dog and disheveled as only the parent of a toddler should be) at 5:30 a.m. and saying to a rather argumentative J “oh, no you don’t! You had me up all night, young man, and now YOU are getting UP and going to school.”
We couldn’t help laughing a little. To be honest, when your kids start sounding like YOU and they ask “I was never like that…was I??????,” it’s entertaining…