I have inadvertently created a monster. Laying in bed with my daughter, in my bed where at 7 she still falls asleep most nights, we were engaged in a round of the standard bedtime songs when I started a mash up and Bridget laughed so hard she cried. She thought it was hilarious and ever since has walked around the house singing bits and pieces of bed time songs;
Itsy bitsy Fru Fru went up the water spout,
Down came the good fairy and washed the meesey* mice out,
Twinkle twinkle little star and dried up all the rain,
And the Itsy bitsy Fru Fru bopped them all again.
Its sweet an ridiculous all at one, like the fact that a seven year old is still sleeping in my bed. Both my kids slept with me as babies, but my oldest slept in his own bed starting around 2 with the 3 am visits trailing off about a year later. My assumption has always been that is about the right age for them to move on to their own bed. This belief I have stated as fact, but like so many truths I held dear about parenting it has fallen victim to reality. All children are different, and need different things. Bridget is tactile, she always wants to be next to people, to touch, hug, hold hands. My eldest was 9 months the first time he told me (without words because he was barely speaking) that he wanted to play by himself. My youngest used words because it just happened last week.
On one of our earlier attempts to get her sleeping alone she became adept at creeping unto our bed. Being a light sleeper I watched through veiled eyes one night as she spent a good five minutes creeping in between my wife and myself warily stopping whenever either of us stirred. starting at the foot she crawled under the covers silently until she rested on a pillow and I felt her hand on my shoulder and she sighed. The release of tension in her was palpable. She is a good co-sleeper as children go; unlike my eldest who liked to sleep sideways and thrashed a lot in his sleep. So I tolerate the little bed ninja, because it is pretty clear she isn’t ready to be a big kid yet, at night anyway.
The trouble for me, besides having to wear pants to bed every night, is that I am a either a pretty extroverted introvert, or introverted extrovert depending on who you ask. Except my wife, a true introvert who thinks I am rockstar-level extrovert because I willingly talk to people I don’t know at the supermarket. Sleep has always been an alone time for me and that just isnt possible with the worlds sweetest nightstalker in my life. Which is why I am up this morning at “oh-dark-thirty” writing. We all have needs; I need time alone with my own head, Bridget needs a lot of touch. Parenting shouldn’t mean giving up all your needs, but it often changes how you meet them.
So this morning as I creep out of bed my daughter asks me where I am going. I lie and tell her the dog needs to go out and she falls back asleep. I do let the dog out into the unseasonably warm night although she is unwilling, before turning on the coffee maker. Waiting until she is back asleep I go to turn off the alarm and hear her talking in her sleep.
“Itsy bitsy Fru Fru” she mumbles.
On a different night she told me that she doesn’t want me to die ever. Having a child at 42 come with certain realities, among them is the fact you will not be there for as much of their life as maybe you would have wished; I may hold her children but not their children, but What to say to a sleepy child? “I will stay as long as I can” I tell her, and it seems enough. She falls asleep a minute later, her hands wrapped in my shirt sleeves as she has done since she was a baby to make it harder for me to leave. I know soon enough will come the rift of young adulthood, and as she is my imogen, last born, I will never be a God again after this. So while it lats I have resolved to experience it. For as long as I can.
* Whether it is “meesey mice” or “field mice” is a controversial topic in our household. My daughter though has taken my wife’s side and chosen “meesey mice”. Also apparently it is “Little bunny Foo Foo” and I have been singing it wrong my whole life. wikipedia makes no mention of meesey mice at least.