Monday, September 12, 2011

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

When we decided to get into foster parenting, we knew we might be given a child who did not yet sleep through the night. We were prepared for night time feedings for a baby; we were ready to train a toddler prone to wandering the house at odd hours to stay in their room at night.

We were not prepared for last night.

When L and O arrived, we showed them their rooms. We explained that these rooms were for them. They were certainly allowed to play with someone else in someone else's room, but we laid out a very simple rule. If a bedroom door is closed, you do not open it yourself and come on in. After L knocked on our sons' bedroom door at 6am, we clarified the rule. If the door is closed in the morning, the child in that room is not yet up and ready to play; you must wait until they open the door themselves.

Another night, Mr D was awakened by the sound of music in the hallway at 2am. He walked out to find L in the hall, singing loudly along with her mp3 player (which had the volume all the way up). He sent her back to bed. The next day we had a conversation about what she may and may not do if she wakes up in the night. (May: Use the bathroom and return to her room. May not: Leave her room for any other reason.)

Yesterday morning, I heard L telling one of the other kids that she'd "sleepwalked" the last two nights and "woke up in O's room!" Huh, I thought. I had my doubts that she was really sleepwalking, but made a mental note to check on who was sleeping where for the next several nights.

When we we went to bed last night, I checked each room. Everyone in their own bed, asleep, doors closed. I awoke at 4:30am and laid in bed, not sure why I was awake. Then I heard a door close.

I looked in L's room -- door open, no children. I looked in O's room -- door open, no children. I looked briefly downstairs, then went back up to our sons' room. Light off, boys asleep, O in the corner playing with L's DS. I whispered piercingly, "O! It is 4 in the morning! You are supposed to be in your bed, asleep!" I took the DS and walked towards the other end of the room, expecting to see L. Not seeing her in the gloom, I whispered her name, "L!" She immediately moved towards me and casually acknowledged my presence.

I continued the harsh whisper, "What are you doing in here?! It is 4 o'clock in the morning!" I began herding both L and O towards the door, as she said -- in a normal, conversational tone of voice -- she was "just looking for something." I have rarely been so angry at a child. I put O back to bed and told him the rule I used to give my early bird son; if it is still dark outside, it is not morning and you should go back to sleep. Then, I went to L's room, where she was now snuggled under the covers.

"We have talked about what to do when you wake up in the night. We have talked about not going into other people's rooms when they are not awake. There is no good reason for you to have been in that room just now, is there?" "No, ma'am." "You need to go back to sleep. We will talk about this in the morning."

I never got back to sleep.

In the morning, I reiterated the rules. I told her I had taken her DS from O and I hadn't decided yet when she was getting it back. I warned her that if this happens again, I will be taking other things.

I am too exhausted to finish this post.

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