Mr. Sensitive

July 22, 2011

Sleep War – Preliminaries

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:22

Brinkley is a terrible sleeper.  He sleeps very lightly, so that he can be easily woken by things such as people sneezing on another floor of the house and continental drift.  Furthermore, he is as committed to staying awake as he is ambivalent about staying asleep.  It doesn’t matter how tired and grumpy he is, he will always search for something to engage his mind—my glasses, the ceiling fan, a cat, a cat’s shadow, whatever—so that he can’t relax and fall asleep.  He has an excellent sense of how to do this already.  The key is to focus on something at all times, but never on the same thing for too long in a stretch.  If you get locked in mentally, you will calm down and inevitably yield to your internal rhythms.  It’s fine to count sheep, but after ten or so, the sheep need to become birds, and then the birds need to become motorcycles, and so on.  Brinkley won’t just sit and watch Dora—he’ll watch Dora, and the Turkey Clock, and the cats, his sisters, and any movement or hint thereof anywhere in the room.

To make this more the way I make things, I have created a grid to express the relationship comparatively.  The first dimension is ‘bad sleeper.’  A bad sleeper is someone who has trouble falling asleep and/or sleeping soundly and restoratively.  A good sleeper is Katie.  The second dimension is ‘bad person.’  A bad person is someone whose disposition degrades materially whenever he or she isn’t well-rested.  A good person is Katie.  The adults first:


Bad Sleeper Bad Person
Katie No No
Lee Yes No

As alluded to before, Katie is neither a bad sleeper nor a bad person.  She can sleep fairly well whenever she needs to—disruptive fat meanies notwithstanding—but she is still even-tempered and capable when she’s tired.  In contrast, I am the person for whom Ambien was invented.  It often takes hours of silence, darkness, and pharmaceutical sedation to slow my brain to the point that I can sleep.  I have been like this for years, though, so I can handle it.  Give me a cup of coffee and a mission and I can go forever.  But you are surly, one might tell me.  Indeed I am, but I am consistently surly, and therefore my repugnant demeanor should be understood as but one aspect of my carefully-cultivated misanthropy, not the product of sleep deprivation.  The children’s matrix follows:


Bad Sleeper Bad Person
Jenny Yes No
Reagan No Yes
Brinkley Yes Yes

As you can see, Jenny has the same configuration as her father.  She has always been a terrible sleeper, but she is even less hampered by lack of sleep than I am.  I know that I can stay awake firing on most cylinders all night, and I have little doubt that Jenny could join me.  In fact, she tries to convince me that we should do precisely that at least once a week.  Reagan is Jenny’s opposite, in this as in so many other respects.  While Jenny is angling to stay up as late as possible, Reagan starts asking if it’s time for bed before 8 p.m.  I am not exaggerating for comic effect.  Reagan falls asleep if she is still for more than twenty minutes—this is a Machi trait—and she sleeps well, if aggressively, throughout the night.  Anyone in the same bed with that sweaty kicker is unlikely to get a good night’s sleep, but Reagan will be quite chipper come the morning.  But if Reagan doesn’t get enough sleep, she is a basket-case.  She staggers around the house looking like someone’s been shot and her hair is an explosion of crusty sadness.  Katie’s combination—double no—is the best, which means that Brinkley’s double yes is, indeed, the worst.  He is a terrible sleeper and a terrible tired baby, and the time has come to put a stop to it.

Katie and I bear this fat load equally, as I face his fury during the day and she has him at night.  He sleeps most of the night, yes, but he wakes up several times to eat—he forgets during the wee hours of the morning that he hates formula—and he is almost always awake for the day by 5:30, if not earlier.  This hardship falls on Katie, as it must.  If I can’t get away from him regularly I am afraid I will turn into my mother, and no one wants that.  In addition, I am already a bad sleeper and Brinkley’s anti-slumber machinations could easily be enough to overwhelm my defenses if Katie were unwilling to stand between the tiny human grist-mill and her husband.  Still, he takes his toll on her as well, and the time has come to break him and end this nonsense.  We are going to sleep-train him, Katie says, which is apparently a thing.  We haven’t truly gone through this exercise before.  We didn’t have to train Reagan to sleep at night, and Jenny was a special case.  Jenny would go down for bed, then wait for us to go to sleep and climb out of her crib or her bed to spend the next several late-night hours ripping pages out of books, drawing on the walls, changing clothes, and who knows what else.  There was nothing we could do but trap her in her room, and even that took several security iterations to manage.  The Sleep War against Brinkley will take place while the girls are in Hilton Head next month.  We can’t have it while they’re here because it’s hard enough to get Jenny to stay out of our room without a crying baby to give her an excuse



  1. This is all so true. That’s really all I can say. But I believe Brinkley can be a good sleeper. And we’re going to make it happen! Right?

    Comment by euregirlsandboys — July 22, 2011 @ 09:39 | Reply

  2. […] Sleep War – Preliminaries « Mr. Sensitive. […]

    Pingback by Sleep War – Preliminaries « Mr. Sensitive | Your Girls and Boys — July 22, 2011 @ 09:40 | Reply

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