In Attempt To Curb Nighttime Wake-Ups, Mommy Recharges Child’s Snuggle Battery
Extra pre-sleep cuddles ensure love does not run out while parents slumber; it is mostly effective
We haven’t really talked about this here, but Kina’s back on the middle-of-the-night wake-ups, a trend in sleep regression that we have come to accept as normal and natural and survivable. Usually, we get something back in return—an expanded vocabulary, more sophisticated sense of humor, or increased patience. In this case, we think it’s attached to a developing awareness of her own emotions.
We took her to the New York Hall of Science last weekend to hide out from the rain and do a little sciencing, and her favorite exhibit—unexpectedly—was the Happiness Experiment, an exhibit designed to explore different emotions and their relationship to color, movement, and expression. There was a little station set up where you could write down an event in your life that had made you feel a particular emotion, and Kina just posted up there for half an hour with a stack of cards, writing down different emotions and the events that had elicited them:
“IT MAX ME SAD WEN MY DAD PUS ME IN MY RUM”
“IT MAX ME HAPPY WEN MY FAMULY SNUGLS ME”
“IT MAX ME ENOYD WEN DADY SINGS”
One by one, she tacked the cards to the wall and admired them, then pulled them down (except for the ones I saved to show teenaged Kina) and put them in a giant transparent shredder, where her frustrations and joys sprayed out in sparse tumbling jets into a pile of the chopped-up emotions of various small New Yorkers.
Since Sunday, she’s been taking care to give voice to her emotions, telling me she “IS SO FRUSTRATED” by me WHEN I DO NOT LISTEN, or that she feels happy when she walks to school with me, or that she feels sad when she’s tired. All of this is new, and it brings back a moment from my own childhood, in the front seat of the car with my mother, when I told her I was jealous of my younger brother because of the attention he was getting. I remember her putting her hand on my shoulder and telling her she was proud of me. It was a pivotal moment in my childhood, and this has been a pivotal week for me as a parent, for the same reason.
It’s hard to give names to our emotions, whether sad or happy or enoyd or FRUSTRATED, and I sometimes collapse into the same mute and confused struggle that Kina does when she’s unsure about the layers of emotion that are washing over her. It’s a good reminder that this naming of our state of being takes real work and attention, and that we all lose sleep from time to time as we struggle with it.
So yes, Kina’s not sleeping that well, and so neither are we (and especially Laurea, the primary target of Kina’s wakings), but we see something coming into focus on the other side, and that sense of direction is helpful.
I mean, we also get the snuggles, and I can assure you we don’t take those for granted.