Sleep posts on parenting blogs are like poop jokes on shows about parenting. Which is why nobody ever watches shows about parenting. Except Parenthood, which completely lost me when the oldest daughter went to college and was never mentioned or heard of again.
Listen, if you want us to care about your characters, Parenthood, you kind of need to show us that you care, too.
Anyway... This is what happens when I try to write about sleep. I don't even write about sleep. I just write about all of the other things that are floating around my mind.
Like, for instance, migraines. Have you ever had a stroke migraine? I had one last week. I was sitting in the coffee shop writing and all of a sudden I couldn't see. And then my face went numb and then I tried to text Hal to tell him that my face was numb and this is what I wrote:
And then I called my mom hysterical because I was going to die and she told me that I was having a migraine and she had one like that once and Nana used to get them all the time and not to drive, so I sat in my car with a numb face and listened to 90s on 9 and...
Okay, so here's the thing. I have so much to say about what is currently happening in my house. At night. At day. At all hours.
Between Revi's sleep-walking and Bo's night terrors, it's kind of like living in a horror movie. (Full disclosure, I have never actually WATCHED a horror movie. Because I refuse to live in a state of fear.)
...But I have watched the trailers to horror movies and I will tell you, spend a night at my house and you will have... an experience not unlike... well... yeah.
EX: Last night, at 1am, I found Revi standing by herself in the laundry room holding a stuffed monkey, speaking in tongues. (She sleepwalks AND talks. Like, full on conversations in her sleep. Mostly are in a language I don't understand but they're pretty involved.)
And the night before that Bo woke up screaming bloody murder and threw a wooden kitchen halfway across the room... while asleep.
Bo's night terrors have become pretty frequent and her tantrums have multiplied as well. And they are violent. Kicking and hitting and wrecking and breaking.
They usually last about five minutes and then, when they're over, Bo becomes an affectionate angel from the planet HAPPYLAND.
She literally beams, comes at me with open arms and tells me she loves me.
"I'm happy now. I love you so much," she says.
Which is... a lot.
I googled around to see what the hell was up and have yet to find a single ailment/disorder that defines her. She does not have issues focusing. She is never depressed or down or even sad... She is either the happiest, most affectionate person of all time OR she's having a violent tantrum.
And the tantrums ALWAYS come from not getting what she wants.
Like, for example, juice at lunch. We don't even buy juice so I have no idea where this idea even came from, but the other day the fact that I gave her water and not juice was THE WORST THING THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN. She threw her plate. She looked at me with dagger eyes. And then lost her everloving mind.
On average, this happens two to four times a day. And regularly in public places which has been... kind of awful. School pick up has been a trainwreck for me because I have to wake the girls which pisses them off and then I have to drag Bo kicking and screaming to the kids' classrooms most days which is not ideal.
I mean, my biggest strength as a human parent is definitely my patience. But being patient with a child who has several tantrums a day (and in public, no less) is very difficult. I try to stay calm but lately it's been tough. And then I feel terrible for losing my shit. There have been times I have had to leave the room (or ask Hal to take over for me) because I could feel myself want to hit her back. (Girlfriend hits. HARD. She also kicks. HARD. And bites. HARD.)
Having a challenging/spirited/rage-y kid has been incredibly humbling for me as a parent and I just want to take a moment to commend all my sisters (and brothers) in the house who are also dealing with challenging children. I could not love Bo more than I do. She is incredibly special and smart and strong but it physically hurts being her parent right now. I am bruised and achey from the kicks and the headbutts. The flowers that were in full bloom last week have since been ripped into a hundred thousand pieces and we almost lost her, the other day, when she tried to run into a busy street just to spite me.
The other night during one of her night terrors where she blindly threw a wooden kitchen halfway across the room (we had to move Revi in with Fable and Archer the other night for obvious reasons) I felt, for the first time, a sort of calm wash over me.
I knew what was coming and I knew how it would end and I repeated to myself those words.
"You know what is coming and you know how this will end" and I sat there and I waited.
I told her I loved her and I told myself it would pass, soon, and we rode the shitstorm out together and when it was over, Bo collapsed in my arms and we both fell asleep.
In the morning, she was fine. She always is. We all are. Her tantrums have made us all more patient and while I have felt immense guilt having to leave various adventures c/o Bo's being unable to keep her shit together, I feel incredibly proud of our team and the kids' ability to adore Bo despite her current... quirks. I am assuming it is not fun for them to have to leave early or get picked up from school with a screaming sister, but they don't even seem to notice.
Because, they understand, perhaps better than I do, that this is just what's happening now.
We sleep and we don't sleep. We have wonderful, magical days, and terrible no-good very bad days and most of the time they're somewhere in the middle.
In the meantime, we have decided to cut sugar from Bo's diet.
(The other day, I took the girls to get treats at Canters and on the way home, Bo went from Jekyll to Hyde and decided she would let go of my hand in the middle of a busy street and run away from me... down the street and around the corner. I could not get to her because I was with Revi so I essentially lost her for a minute and lost my mind and found her HIDING behind a bush. I then had to drag her kicking and screaming from said bush while an old lady yelled at me because WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOUR CHILD. I smiled at her and waved. And bit my tongue. And cried under my sunglasses. I mean. The rage I felt in that moment was unprecedented. I wanted to throw my hands up and leave Bo and the old lady to live happily ever after the end. But instead I thanked her for looking out for us and walked home with Bo under one arm and Revi in the other until Bo calmed down and became angelic again. She held my hand for the last two blocks of our walk and told me over and over how much she loved me.
"I'm happy now, Mama. I love you."
Which is a lovely thing to hear under normal circumstances but not after being kicked in the stomach and yelled at by a stranger.)
I realized that she had just consumed a large quantity of sugar and perhaps that had magnified something in her to bring on the tantrum/fearless need to run into the street. Most tantrums happen post-meal after a cookie or treat has been issued.
I couldn't help but Carrie-Bradshaw-wonder. Could sugar be a culprit?
Bo has always been extremely sensitive. If it's too bright out she won't open her eyes. She rashes super easily, etc. So it makes sense that she could have behavioral issues that tie into food, sugar... dyes...
Hal bought sugar-free treats over the weekend so she can still have her cookie after lunch. In the two+ days since cutting sugar Bo hasn't ONCE had a tantrum, so, yeah. This very well might be something. (This is RECORD, you guys. Real talk.)
I'll keep you posted of course, but in the meantime I'd love to hear from you guys, specifically those of you who have experienced violent tantrums, night terrors and the like. How do you deal with them? What has your experience been? I would also love to hear if any of you/your children have had issues with sugar/dyes/chemical reactions that affect behavior. (Thank you in advance. Grateful for your insight. And if it isn't already obvious, Bo's spirit is about as enigmatic as it gets. Her energy is PURE LIGHT and I am so proud to be her mother, even when I want to escape through the window some days. I adore her spirit. She is AMAZING and makes me a better mother and human every. single. day.)
Haddie Braverman has been up to while MIA at college -- I would love to hear those, too. It's kind of been weighing on me.