As I write this post, my son is sitting on my lap, driving Lightning McQueen up and down my right arm. This is where he likes to sit during the day if I have some work to finish on my laptop, but now it’s three in the morning and I just sat down for my prized few hours of writing time, when usually all through the house, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.
My husband had established our alpha status earlier tonight by patiently returning Ethan to his bed at least ten times despite all his toddler tricks and tantrums. We had cheered our victory when he gave up and passed out in his own bed.
With my husband asleep, I know it is up to me to exert our alpha role.
“Mommee, I hungry,” Ethan starts.
I kiss his peach fuzz head and say firmly, “No, it’s time for bed.”
Ever since Kyra taught Ethan how to climb out of his crib by throwing a leg over the bars and rappelling off the wall and onto the bookshelf, the Sleep Wars have begun again.
Tucked in a twin-sized bed, our two-year-old believes that once the lights are out and all is quiet in the house, he can do whatever he wants.
Sometimes, he crawls into his sister’s bed and tickles her all night long. One time, her Kindergarten teacher called me and said that Kyra had a meltdown at recess and told everyone, “I’m exhausted.”
Other times, we find him curled up beneath the train table or outside our door.
I think we forgot how stubborn he could be. When he was an infant, he used to cry for a solid hour despite every sleep schedule and trick we tried. He wore our patience so thin that I remember throwing our copy of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child in the trash.
“But Mommee. I hungry,” Ethan tries again.
I cradle him in my arms and bring him back to his bed. He starts to cry. Worried that he would wake the whole family, I climb in too.
A whisper of his kitty cat meow and “Mommee, I’m scared” and he’s snuggled into the crook of my left armpit. He wraps his right arm around my head and gently massages my ear. He rewards me with little wet kisses on my nose and my forehead. His tiny toes grip at my side. Then, for extra measure, he presses his cheek against mine.
I’m a sucker, I know. I’m Play-Doh in his baby hands.
To make things more complicated, I did need his baby hugs. Early this morning, my grandmother passed away in her sleep. My mother’s mother had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t recognize me years ago. However, I still felt a terrible loss. I swallowed the thought that now I had no living grandparents.
Ethan asks me, “Mommee, sad?”
I laugh. “Yes, my son. Thank you for noticing.”
He says, “Mommee need band aid.”
I wrap my arms around him tighter and fall asleep in his pudgy arms wafting in a sweet baby snore lullaby.
What has your child done to achieve alpha status?