Lately, we’ve been a little worried about Matthew, because since school started a few weeks ago, he’s been having a little trouble falling asleep at night.
I should, by the way, preface this by saying that he’s our first-born, so while we pretend that we know how to parent an adolescent 7th grader, he’s really our practice child. We hope to have it down by the time we get to the next one.
But, back to the problem.
It seems that whatever is on his mind seems to crop up after the sun goes down. He’s a perfectly cheerful, goofy, seemingly well-adjusted child until then. And then suddenly after about 8:00 p.m., he worries that he’s going to fail a math test, miss the bus, misplace his soccer cleats, lose his phone, or never get into college.
Last night, I was wondering why this only happens at night. And then I remembered back to when Matthew was 9, and when he was 3, and when he was born, and realized this has kind of always been just who he is.
We brought Matthew home from the hospital after he was born, and I have some really super memories of Dave swinging him around in that little car seat carrier thing inside the house, trying to get him to go to sleep. And I remember doing some serious time in the glider with Matthew in my lap, trying to get him to go to sleep. I remember driving him around at naptime, trying to get him to go to sleep. In fact, the majority of my memories from Matthew’s infancy revolve around trying to get him to go to sleep.
Finally, when Matthew was about a year old, he could fall asleep on his own, but only with a pacifier. Out of desperation for some sleep, we would leave 3 or 4 pacifiers in his crib every night, so he could always find one and get himself back to sleep. He perfected what we started referring to as the “pacifier derby,” where he’d try all of them until he found the one that was just perfect. This worked out well, until we eventually realized that if we didn’t someday make him learn to sleep without a pacifier, he’d need to take a bunch to college with him. So we started the painstaking process of taking them away, one at a time, until he could fall asleep without it.
To help Matthew get through the lonely nights without a pacifier, we started putting some classical music on the CD player in his room, to soothe him to sleep. This was a brilliant idea, we thought, until a few weeks later, when he started waking up around midnight, crying for us because the music had turned off. Every night. Like I said, he’s our practice kid, so we didn’t really know this was going to happen.
Fast-forward a few years. Matthew was 9 years old, and finally falling asleep on his own without the help of any props. We were doing some construction on our house and had to move out for a few months. We were fortunate to find a nice apartment in our town where Dave and I had a bedroom and the boys had their own loft space upstairs. Unfortunately, the room wasn’t an exact replica of Matthew’s bedroom at home. He could hear his little brother snoring in the bed next to him. Occasionally, the guy who lived downstairs would cook something that smelled weird late at night. And so it started again. And unfortunately, by this point, Matthew was too big for a pacifier or a rocking chair, so it just took a lot of patience on our part. Eventually, we moved back home, and Matthew happily slept in his own bed, with only the need for complete darkness to fall asleep. That, I can work with.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that we’ve all got our personality traits and our quirks. And while I do think that sometimes our environment affects how we turn out, if we think about it just a little bit, sometimes we can chalk it up to just coming into this world a certain way.