A parenting anecdote: The rigors of getting a child to sleep


Some children will drop asleep right at the spot where sleep will overpower them, and you will only need to carry them to bed. Others will just start acting up for no strong reason, throwing a fuss here and unleashing a tantrum there, and vehemently refusing any form of affection or bribe. At times they will thicken the plot by crying for nothing; an annoying, drawn-out wail, lazily cried in a flat monotone with fake, exaggerated, bronchial coughs dramatically performed poorly to make them sound like they are lingering on the point of demise. They might stop shortly to better hear something that someone is saying – often not to them – then get back to their crying afterwards. They might also forget that they were crying but remember a few minutes later, after which the moaning will be continued immediately.

Eyes weighed down by sleep, they will protest when you take them to bed, or lie that they weren’t sleeping when you wake them up to take them to bed. The first thing they are likely to do after being tucked in nicely is ask a question. They begin innocently enough, shooting questions that every other adult (or a much older child) can answer confidently and even offer more information, eventually graduating to questions that not even the genius of philosophers can imagine, reducing you into feeling deeply unintelligent and inexperienced. Because you’re a coward unwilling to lose control, you shush the little one after failing to answer the third difficult question, and ask them to sleep. They will close their eyes and go quiet for some seconds before suddenly leading you into an incoherent nursery rhyme chorus with a vigorous hip-shaking part that has to be done exactly the way it has to be done. They will settle down once more, after either a few threats or a few promises, before asking for some water. They always feel thirsty. Then you try soothing them while cuddling in an awkward position but end up falling asleep yourself. You will be gladly relieved when they are finally snoring softly while dreaming about whatever it is that children dream about, but try to move a muscle. You will slowly disentangle yourself from their loose embrace like a ninja of great talents handling a highly explosive weapon, but they will wake up and grab you back, maybe even let out a small, cry. Fortunately, they will go back to sleep almost immediately, and when sneaking away from them again, you will briefly freeze on your tracks every few seconds whenever they stir or turn, making you look like you’re performing a slow, badly-coordinated, robot dance.

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