Besieged by sleepy barbarians

There is a new epidemic in our house. We’re suffering a rash of little boys wanting to climb into bed with their parents at night. This pestilence results in tired, cranky parents, which was the primary reason for the fall of the Roman Empire.

I am not a proponent of children sleeping with their parents. Children do not know how to sleep in a civilized manner. They should be kept in their own beds, where the savagery of their slumber cannot infringe upon the sleep rights of the more peaceable members of the household.

If I do say so myself, I am a very organized sleeper. I rest in a straight line, perpendicular to the headboard. My legs stay straight and my arms are kept to myself. I don’t flail or kick at midnight apparitions. My unconscious discipline is absolutely Prussian. Periodically, my wife insists that I spread myself out a little so that I don’t so much resemble a man in a coffin. For some reason, she finds herself unnerved at sleeping next to a fellow resting in so much peace.

Kaiser models my pajamas

Once properly dressed in my pajamas, I’m ready for bed. Even in my dreams, the trains run on time.

She does what she can to enliven my repose. A woman of normal proportions by day, she sprouts six elbows and eight knees at night. Various combinations of these many joints can be found burrowed into my side in the dark hours. This strengthens our marriage by helping us stay connected.

There is no room in our bed for extra people, yet a bonus human can all too often be found there. It’s just a little human, but little humans use up a disproportionate acreage in the execution of their slow-motion, somnambulistic cartwheels.

The big boy’s methods are tried and true. He had a bad dream and seeks refuge in his parents’ bed. I wonder if his bad dream had anything do with a spastic creature sleeping diagonally across his bed and kneeing him in the midsection on the hour, because that’s what my bad dreams are about these days.

Practicing having fits

Photographic evidence that children belong to secret societies where they are trained how to toss their limbs in spasmodic fits. (Image: Frances B. Johnston)

The little boy doesn’t need an excuse. All he has to do is cry loud and long enough. Once he hits that pitch that sounds like he’s threatening to fling himself from the top rail of his crib, he’ll be taken in by Mommy and Daddy.

It would be unfair to accuse the little boy of sleeping diagonally. His layout is more nearly parallel to the headboard. Together, Mommy, Toddler, and Daddy form a big, sleepy H. This is unless Daddy falls over the edge, at which point the formation defies the western alphabet.

Little Boy only lays across the bed when he’s actually sleeping. When he decides not to sleep, he might situate himself anywhere. For example, he might sit next to Daddy’s head and punch Daddy in the ear just to inquire whether or not that gentleman is awake.

In the boy’s defense, it is often difficult to know if Daddy is awake, with all the flinching he does in his sleep lately.

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19 comments on “Besieged by sleepy barbarians

  1. My wife would be envious of yours if she knew another man could sleep as you do. I’m all over the place as well. Darned kids. We never let ours sleep in bed with us because we’re mean I guess. When one of them insists on sleeping with us because they’re scared or something then momma tells them to sleep on the floor next to the dog. Sadly, they always do.

  2. ksujulie says:

    I would LOVE for my husband to sleep like you!!! We have a problem with our 4 year old, Kate, climbing in bed with us. I’m convinced she will never stop for years to come. We’ll have teenage Kate and her boyfriend climbing in bed with us. Lol

  3. technophile9 says:

    This was very funny! I’m also a very spastic sleeper. My sister was convinced she once saw me in a foetal position while sleeping.

  4. cookie1986 says:

    I, like you, ama vertical sleeper. Destroyer is a horizontal sleeper. Not a good combination.

  5. Traci says:

    Great post. As a person with the gift of sleeping, I consider those who disrupt those holy hours to be the worst of criminals.

  6. kelloggs77 says:

    A Prussian unconscious discipline. Priceless. We have had this problem with our kids, and it was getting out of control…especially since they are 8 and 5. We finally had a talk with them because it was becoming so disruptive to OUR sleep. We brainstormed some ideas with them about what would keep them in their rooms. As a joke my husband said, “Do you want to sleep in the hallway?” They did. So we moved their mattresses into the hallway and they loved it. More importantly, they stopped coming in our room. We let them sleep there for about two weeks. Now they are back in their rooms and still staying there all night. I have no idea why it worked…maybe they just needed something totally out of the ordinary to help them break the habit. Good luck!

    • I applaud your patient, reasonable solution to the problem. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough hallway for mattresses, and Prussians are not famous for their patience.

      • kelloggs77 says:

        Ha! We did have to smash the mattresses down into place because the hallway was a bit too narrow. And we had to put them end to end. I’m sure sleeping bags would have been a much more reasonable approach 🙂 Hang in there!

  7. Great post. My three year old still sleeps parallel to the head board when we allow him in our bed, which is almost never anymore, and I would spend the night either getting kicked in the head, or giving up on my bed and sleeping on the couch.

  8. stacybuckeye says:

    Haha, We are getting ready to take a road trip and share a king sized bed. We did this a few months ago and had to come home a day early because after two nights mom had gotten a total of 3 hours sleep.For some reason I am convinced it will be better this time. Must be my eternal optimism 😉

  9. yearstricken says:

    Love this piece. Such a great blend of humor and tenderness. Most excellent, Scott.

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