You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I’ve been up awake since 3:45 this morning. Combine an overstimulating weekend with no exercise, a too early bedtime, and a kid dumping the dog on my bed in the middle of the night, and it’s like a no-sleep potion designed especially with me in mind.
It’s OK, though. I’m usually good on the first day after an iffy night. I’m giddy, I’m kidding around, I’m making my shots at tennis, I’m shopping at three stores in one morning and not even breaking a sweat. This sleep-deprived, get-it-done version of me is the one that makes my husband say, “Mom should get less sleep more often!” Two days from now, though? I’m wondering whether make-up and clever tailoring will conceal my freshly sprouted horns and tail.
My own sleep situation is making me think better of my children, whose less than ideal behavior I often label as “willful disobedience” even though it’s probably caused by something more like “radical exhaustion.” Let’s add up the facts: I didn’t want to get up on Saturday morning, and 11-year-old Jake didn’t either, but he didn’t just get up—he got up and played a regulation-length soccer game in a 40 degree nor’easter at eight-freaking-thirty in the morning! Add to that a junior cotillion ice breaker on Saturday afternoon, a sit up and be charming social engagement with family friends in the evening, church on Sunday morning, and a 2-hour classical music concert on Sunday afternoon, and you tell me how we’re doing on the exhaust-o-meter.
Babies, thankfully, rub their eyes when they’re tired. They nuzzle a parent’s neck. They get cranky and cry. Older kids, I have a feeling, just keep going wherever their parents tell them to, complaining or not, until they hit a steel-reinforced brick wall that will grow poison tipped spikes if watered with enough caffeine, sugar, and sit-still time.
So today I’ll give my kids a break. Not an “I’ll let you do whatever you want no matter how you behave” kind of break. More like an “I’m going to chuckle at your otherwise irritating antics like you’re trying to be funny and get you to bed at a reasonable hour so you can sleep it the heck off” kind of break.
Come to think of it, maybe I should take a dose of that medicine myself.