It Runs in the Family

Unfortunately, “it” in this case seems to be sleeping problems.

I don’t know if we can classify it as insomnia just yet, but: Flora can’t fall asleep at night.

For about a week now, she’s come down between 9:30 and 10 p.m. to complain that she can’t fall asleep. Dan lets her sit on the couch with him for a little bit, watching TV. I’ve given her melatonin (about 1 mg) to see if that helps. (She says it doesn’t.)

Last night, she was up past midnight.

This is not good.

She is fried. She is frazzled; her temper is a hair trigger; she will scream or cry at the drop of a hat.

For an active 8-year-old, not getting more than 8 hours a night is not healthy. Letting her sit on the couch and watch TV because she can’t sleep is not going to help.

Tonight, I’m going to try some deep breathing with her. She has soccer this evening too, which may help knock her out. I’m also going to see if I can get her to count to 100 when she can’t sleep. I’m going to make it clear that she cannot come downstairs after 9 p.m.

I’m not sure if she’s anxious about something in particular or not.

A boy at extended day has been picking on her — unfortunately, he picks on everyone. She’s been doing the right things: telling him to stop, walking away, getting an adult. I told her if it continued, I would step in with the school.

She says she likes her teacher. She’s doing well in school with her work. She likes soccer, although sometimes she finds it challenging. She’s on a co-ed team with third and fourth graders, and sometimes at practice if she’s in a group of fourth graders, she puts a lot of pressure on herself. The coaches don’t pressure her. She feels like the older kids “tell her what to do”. She finds it upsetting.

We’ve been doing yoga a couple of times a week. After balking at first, she likes to do it now. I think she finds it fun to stretch and hold the poses. She doesn’t think of it as something she *has* to do. (Confession: I really like it too. This has come as a surprise to me. But I’ll talk about that another day.)

We’ll try a few things to see what helps. But if this continues, I may take her to the pediatrician. I doubt they’ll give her medication, but maybe they can help by talking to her about the importance of sleep, and maybe they will have some other ideas to help her quiet her brain. I’m sure that’s the crux of the issue.

How would you help an 8-year-old get better rest?

The Straw

I had a generally craptastic weekend (with one or two high points). Last night, I finally threw in the towel at 11 p.m., even though it looked as if the Steelers were going to throw away a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter AGAIN.

I woke up at 3:15 this morning.

The children woke up at 3:45 a.m., which was just dandy considering I hadn’t managed to fall back to sleep in any case.

I tried to get to sleep in between the two of them, in the guest bed — because we hadn’t put clean sheets on our bed yet — and that didn’t go well either. Kate dropped back off, although she cried out for me a couple of times; and Flora was Squirmy McSquirmerson, and she kept sticking her elbows and knees into various parts of my anatomy. Between my racing thoughts — oh and what quicksilver, anxiety-producing thoughts they were — the mouth-breathing Kate, and the restless Flora (who apparently has Ginsu knives concealed at her knees and elbows), sleep proved impossible.

At 4:30, I went downstairs.

At 5 a.m., Kate woke again, sobbing for me. I ran upstairs. Dan took Flora to sleep with him, and I calmed Kate and laid down with her again.

At 5:05 a.m., I fell back to sleep. At 6 a.m., the alarm on my cell phone went off. After hitting snooze a couple of times, I must have turned it off.

Because the next time I woke up, it was 7:37 a.m. Which means I was already late for work, and it was entirely likely that Flora was going to be late for preschool.

And then, I walked into Flora’s preschool room at 8:30 a.m. (15 minutes late) and was informed that it was Picture Day (which I knew, I mean, I have a note on my calendars and everything, but I had utterly forgotten), and the money was due. I simply told the teacher (who was very kind) that I was sorry, I did not have the time to fill out the form, and in any case, I didn’t have my checkbook with me (primarily because I am out of checks; they are on order, and I hope they get to me in the next week or so). And it took pretty much all of my self-possession, which is in very short supply as of late, to not scream I’M ALREADY AN HOUR LATE, and break down sobbing.

I gave Flora a big hug before I left, and told her, in so many words, that I was so sorry for being a complete failure as a mother — you should have seen the girls in her class, in dresses with their hair done, and there was my little girl, her hair unbrushed (although clean!) in a pair of pink leggings and a flowered pink long-sleeve t-shirt. And then I pretty much ran to my car, where I proceeded to sob for about 10 minutes or so.

I’d like to close this post out in some positive or witty way. Like: the pumpkin scone and coffee from Starbucks saved Monday from being a complete disaster. Or: but then I dried my tears and resolved to be better at this whole juggling thing. Or, hell: I dried my tears and a voice from heaven said, lay down your weary head and rest my child, and I could call into work saying that God had ordered me to go home and go back to bed.

But instead I’m feeling just as bleak now as I was at 8:30 this morning. And, frankly, I don’t see it getting too much better. As a matter of fact, it may just get worse. And I’m not really sure what I’m going to do about that.