Q: Why aren't you sleeping through the night?! Please tell me it's some sort of binge-eating problem you have and not your children because I like to think eventually my infant will SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT...until like 9am. Please????
A: You know, binge is such an ugly word. I prefer to call my little problem a chronic case of the Nighty Nighty Nom-Noms. I'm kidding. I only binge during the day, right after the guy comes to refill the vending machine at work. After gorging myself, I walk around the office all innocent and accusing: "Did the snack guy forget to fill the machine AGAIN? God. Somebody should put a call in or something."
No. The sleep deprivation is all Gus's fault.
Our younger son, Patrick, has been sleeping through the night since he was six months old, so there is hope for you and your infant. Gus, however, has been waking up once, twice, sometimes five or six times a night, since the beginning of time. At various points we've blamed colic, gas, loneliness, and his overdeveloped imagination. We thought maybe he had apnea or some other sleep disorder. Then we decided he was just being a jerk. Most recently, though, I was reading a book called Raising Your Spirited Child, which led me to hypothesize that Gus does not sleep because he is an extrovert, who derives his energy from being around people. See? It takes SO MUCH ENERGY for Gus to sleep through the night that since he was not born with an extension cord that plugs directly into our foreheads, he has to wake us up every few hours in order to connect and refuel for the next dream.
That was last week's theory.
Now I'm blaming the television.
We've always let the boys watch DVDs. Baby Einstein, Best of Elmo, Hard Hat Harry, Bob the Builder, Hee Haw, Andy Griffith, Bear in the Big Blue House, etc. It seemed the only way we could all catch some downtime between dinner and bed. And thanks to our low-rent basic cable package, neither kid really liked anything that was on TV at night. That is, until Gus started kindergarten and discovered the joys of the Disney Channel. Now he loves "Phineas & Ferb" and "Hannah Montana" and "Wizards of Waverly Place" and that hideous "Suite Life on Deck", all of which are totally obnoxious and inappropriate for a five year old kid. But I'm not going to lie. We let him watch. We let him watch way more than he should just so we can see what he looks like with his mouth closed.
Last Sunday, after an unseasonably warm and gloriously sunny afternoon here in Nashville, after we’d taken the kids out to lunch and to the park and to the playground, Gus decided he wanted to decompress with a Disney Channel marathon. Fed up with those fast-yapping Disney Tweens, I told him he could only watch one episode of "Wizards of Waverly Place." And he reacted like a junkie whose mother had just flushed his stash.
“ONE EPISODE?” he screamed, veins popping, eyes bulging out of his head. “JUST ONE!? NO. NO. MOM. THIS IS NOT GOOD. NO! MOM! YOU ARE CRAZY! ONE EPISODE IS NOTHING! IT'S NOTHING!
Furious at him for screaming at me, but even more furious at myself for letting him get so hooked on the high of bad television, I impulsively banned TV for a week. No Disney Channel, no morning cartoons, no videos, NOTHING. To punish him, yes. But also to see what would happen.
And you'll never guess who's been sleeping through the night.
Not me, of course. I still wake up every hour wondering if Gus is still alive. But he's been asleep, hardly moving, from 8:30 p.m. until 6:30 the next morning.
FOR THREE WHOLE DAYS!!!
Larry says it's just a coincidence. And I say I'm totally IDIOTICALLY jinxing our family by even writing about this piece of good fortune. But if it lasts, I'll tell you what. The next Blabbermouse giveaway will be an autographed 36-inch, pre-owned, TV. (And I'll be giving it away to Goodwill, because we're the last family on earth who still owns a non-flat-screen TV).
So, what's your take on television? I've read that it winds kids up instead of winding them down (and promptly filed that information under Ignore This.) But now I'm thinking ... maybe it's true? That the TV was making his brain too excited to sleep? That I am the worst mother ever for taking so long to figure this out?
Or maybe I should just shut up because it's only been three days and everything will probably return to the sleepless status quo before I know it.