Sleeping with the Toddler

Every so often Helene’ the rapidly growing toy strewing toddler, gets to spend the night with me, her Nana. I enjoy very much spending one and one time with my granddaughter. She’s funny, way too smart for her age, and full of adorable little surprises.When she sleeps, as the nap time photo demonstrates, she’s still utterly adorable, and us grownups get to catch our breaths, while we clean up after her. I love having her visit me as she is such a delight.   It is at bedtime  I know, that one of us is not going to have a whole lot of fun. Well at least not much sleep.
One would think that a little person a fraction of my size and weight (details of which will remain confidential) wouldn’t be that much of an issue when one is sharing mattress space with. Especially when that mattress is of the Queen size variety. Oh Contraire! What really happens is as follows.
Going to bed.
There is much procrastination involved. Helene’ will ask to have her teeth brushed, and then wants to know where all her animals are. She prefers a large retinue of stuffed critters. Then it’s time for prayers. Whatever grown-ups are in residence at the time must have their turn. She also has a session of “Let’s talk about it.” That is actually you singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to her. I have no idea why she calls it “Lets talk about it.” Then hopefully she’s ready to go to sleep.
Going to sleep.
Here lately that has been a problem. She is going through a phase where she doesn’t want to be alone in a darkened room to sleep. She’ll cry and sounds actually somewhat frightened. It usually takes a couple of visits to get her calmed down and into sleep zone.
This last visit, she went to bed a bit later than her usual routine. Since I was also tired, and was not exactly in the mood to hear her crying for an extended period of time. I decided just to go to bed early. I figured she’d calm right down and go to sleep, knowing a grown-up was right there.
Going to sleep, one hour later.
Yep, she’s still awake, wriggling around, kicking her feet every so often, and poking me to see if I respond. Every so often I mutter “Go to sleep.” Finally she goes to sleep as close to me as she can get having claimed her spot on the bed. Right smack in the middle.
Right smack in the middle.
A toddler usually can pick a spot in the bed, like right smack in the middle and pretty much stay there. The only downside is that they will pivot while in that spot, periodically altering which direction their feet are pointing. In my experience, a small child can do all the points of a compass in a single night while remaining essentially at the same point in the bed.  Head and feet are pointed at first vertically and can move suddenly to horizontally. Of course that changes drastically what unclaimed space remain for you. If you are like me, you may try to move the sleeping child back into a more sharing friendly setting, only to discover that sleeping children are surprisingly heavy.  Most of the time, I try to find a spot free of flailing elbows and feet and try to go back to sleep.
4:16 AM
I get a pat on the face. “I gotta go potty Nana.” Ok, a very important statement coming from a child who is still trying to master the whole going to the bathroom thing. So into the bathroom we go. She does her business and is done. While we are there, I might as well go to.  The child is now wide awake and playing with the rubber ducks left over from last night’s bath. Within seconds she is asking for breakfast. I quickly shoot down that idea as I turn off the lights and put her back into bed with me. Prolonged kicking and wriggling commences for a solid 20 minutes.
5:30 AM
“Nana, I gotta go potty, and I’m hungry.” We repeat in its entirety the sequence of events that had occurred 45 minutes previously.
6:30 AM
There is a toddler fast asleep on top of what covers she hasn’t already kicked off to the far side of the bed. I have to get up. I believe that I have gotten just enough sleep to keep me craving coffee all day long. She’ll wake up in a little while, totally refreshed and ready to face the day. I’m already wanting a nap, I know I won’t get.
I told my grandmother about my night time experience with my granddaughter. She laughed offering absolutely no sympathy. Apparently I did pretty much the same thing to her when I was a little girl. It’s “nice” to know Helene’ and I are carrying on a family tradition.

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