The boy pounces on our bed and wriggles his way between me and Joseph. I open my eyes and he is staring at me – his brown eyes wide open. “It’s Mommy,” he announces and squeezes my face against his. This isn’t a sign of affection as much as it’s the deep pressure touch that he craves. I cover him with the blanket and tell him it’s time to go to sleep. I’m hoping that he goes to sleep quickly. I calculate our hours of sleep – the score is five to three, in the boy’s favor.
It’s rare for him to sleep through the night. Some nights, it’s easy. He wakes up, comes into our bed and goes to sleep right away. Other nights, he’ll stay up two or three hours before going back to sleep. (And no, it doesn’t matter whether or not he’s taken a nap during the day.) But the way he is talking so clearly, I know that it isn't going to be an easy night. For some reason, he’s always the most vocal during the early hours of the morning.
The boy is still rolling around in our bed and it’s time to switch strategies. I kick Joseph awake and tell him to take the boy into his room. Sometimes the boy will go to sleep quickly with Joseph. With them gone, I lay in bed facing the door ready to jump out of bed at the slightest noise. I close my eyes, but I’m not sleeping. I know better. After a while it’s quiet and I think to myself, he’s asleep. But just as I’m about to turn over, the boy is back in our bed. With Joseph asleep in his bed, the boy has more room in mine.
(NOTE: I just want to mention that I do not approve of Norrin sleeping in our bed. As a baby, Norrin always slept in his crib – even though it killed me to hear him cry, I stood my ground. But I guess a baby in a crib is much easier to control than a 4 year old in a twin bed. And at this point, do I really want to argue? It's about choosing your battles.)
“Time for sleep,” the boy says before throwing himself on top of me. I can feel that his pull-up is wet. I’ll need to change it. For a second I think about just letting it be. But I know that if I don’t, I’ll probably have to change his pajamas and the sheets. I change him quickly, hoping that he’ll go to sleep now that he’s dry and possibly more comfortable. But instead, he walks back into his room. I am foolish enough to think it’s to go sleep in his bed.
I hear the contents of the boy’s trains being dumped out on the floor. I pull myself out of bed and walk into his room. Joseph is half asleep. I tell him to go back to our bed – he’ll need to get up for work soon. The boy, oblivious to the time, is happily putting the train tracks together and pushing Toby and Bertie along. He presses the button of the musical caboose and the Thomas the Train theme song fills the room. I know that once he’s started with that caboose – he’ll keep pressing that button over and over and over again. I snatch the caboose out of his hands and hide it. “It’s time for bed.” I pick him up and put him in his bed. And then he says “Pee pee in the potty.” Of course, at 3 am he tells me he has to use the potty – he never finds it necessary to tell me at 3 in the afternoon. I sigh and I’m so tempted to just let him pee in his pull-up. But since he never tells me, I drag myself out of his bed and walk him to the bathroom. And he actually pees! Normally this pee pee in the potty act is worthy of the “Good Job Norrin” song and dance – but not at 3 am. I whisper good job and he looks kind of disappointed that there is no fanfare. Oh well – sorry kiddo – try me after my first cup of coffee.
We get back into his bed and just as I lay down, I remember that I really hate sleeping in his bed. (If I knew then all the time I would spend sleeping in his bed, I would have spent a lot more money on the mattress.) I push him toward the wall and cover him (again) with his blanket. But he’s still not sleepy – not even close. He's just talking and talking. He crawls over me and goes back to his trains. I get up and bring him back to bed and I hand him a train, thinking that would get him to go to sleep. But no. He climbs out of bed again and goes for the trains. I have had it. I pick up all the trains and take the box to my room and shove it in the closet. I go back into his room and say very firmly, “No more trains. It’s time for bed.” He starts to cry and raises his hand and hits me. As he hits me, he says “Don’t hit Mommy.” Dizzy with exhaustion and frustration, I smack his hand and say “You don’t hit Mommy.” I feel bad that I’ve hit him and he starts to cry louder. I’m almost tempted to say “You wanna cry? I’ll give you something to cry about.” But I don’t. Instead, I pick him up, toss him into his bed, cover him with his blanket and tell him to go to sleep. I go back to my room and lay down. He doesn’t come into our room and he doesn’t get out of his bed. I have won.
I am dreaming. It’s a strange dream. I’m holding two pies of Singas pizza and waiting on line at the nail salon. Why am I standing on line at the nail salon – who knows? But how sad is it that I am dream of getting my nails? The last time I had a professional manicure was sometime over the summer. Anyway as I’m standing on the line, I hear something in the distance. I wake up because I realize the boy is ransacking the kitchen. I get up and walk to the kitchen and sure enough there he is – drinking juice and eating sliced cheese. Caught, he quickly closes the refrigerator door and follows me back into my room. He climbs into the bed, in between me and Joseph. I don’t even care anymore. I just want to sleep and I hope that he'll want to sleep too.
The alarm goes off and I hit snooze. Norrin is sleeping peacefully next to me and Joseph is long gone. I feel as if I haven’t slept – which technically I guess I really haven’t. I think about how tired Norrin must be and I almost feel bad sending him to school. Almost. I pounce on top of him and shake him awake. “Wake up! Wake up!” I yell. He rolls over and motions me away with his hand. I pull him up out of my bed and stand him up on the floor. His legs go limp but I keep standing him up until he stands on his own. I remind him that he was the one who wanted to play with Thomas and eat cheese at 3 in the morning. He says nothing. He knows I’m right. Or he’s too tired to fight me.
|Norrin the night after - exhausted. Thank goodness!|
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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.