Could you better understand your kids if you learn to sleep like them?
My 3-year-old woke me up by pulling open my eyelid.
This isn't unusual. Once she placed several books and her stuffed bunny on my head and giggled until I was awake. One time, she dropped from the ceiling onto my stomach. By comparison, opening my eyes was quite tame.
I was startled. But she shushed me and put her hand on my cheek. "It's OK, sweetie, it's time to get up. Mom says so," she said softly. She handed me my glasses and pulled me by my pinkie finger to the kitchen, where my wife was making breakfast.
The wife was surprised I was awake. "You could have kept sleeping," she said. I looked down at my daughter. She shrugged and moved her hair from her face, "Want to play something?" she said.
When you first become a parent, other parents will joke that you'll never sleep again. And this feels true when you have a baby. But, eventually, you do get to sleep. It's just a little less than you'd like.
To sleep in, my wife and I have to plan it like we would a vacation and mark it on the calendar. This is more difficult for my wife. She is the respected teacher; I am the substitute who shows the class a movie. Despite my attempts to change this, we all know one thing: She brought them into this world, I just drove the Kia to the hospital.
So when my wife wants to sleep in, I wake up extra early and guard the bedroom door like a hall of fame lineman defending the quarterback's blindside.
Little kids never want to sleep, but they have to. Adults only want to sleep, but they can't. When my daughters complain about sleep, I warn, "Enjoy it while you can." This does nothing to dissuade them.
Trying to understand my kids' sleeping habits makes me think of the book, "Call of the Wild." In the book, writer Farley Mowat studies wolves in the Canadian north. He soon realizes he is missing a lot because he sleeps like a human, not a wolf. So he trains himself to take short naps throughout the day instead of one long sleep at night. This changes everything in his research.
Could I better understand my kids if I learn to sleep like them? I'd like to think so, but it'll never happen. If I fell asleep on a long trip, I wouldn't wake up in my comfy bed. I'd wake up in the garage or a ditch.
Before bed, I ask if anyone needs to go to the bathroom. Neither of them ever do. But five minutes after lights out, they both really need to go. I tried this one night, but my body physically wouldn't let me get up.
My "sleeping" 3-year-old will call from her room: "Your favorite song is on!" My wife and I, it seems, have a lot of favorite songs, and the radio plays them all. But I don't think my wife would find it as cute if I did it.
Of course, I could never fully commit to this research, because it turns out my kids sleep like 12 hours a day. I can't keep up, I can only be jealous.
David Manley is an editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at email@example.com. On Twitter: @DaveManley