The Bright Side

You know the upside of having kids shift their internal clocks for summer, going from 7pm-6am mostly asleep to 9pm-5am barely asleep? Absolutely nothing. Sucks rotten eggs.

You know what’s funny about being in the car while one kid screams, “Stop looking out my window! Look out your own window!”* while the second kid just stares across the car at nothing through his brother’s window? Again, nothing. No benefit at all.

*technically, he shrieks, “Peanuh! No look me weendoh! Own weenndoh!”

Wanna hear the silver lining, for me, of children who eat their own weight in watermelon every day? Once you push aside the exorbitant cost of organic watermelon, the sticky pink drips everywhere, the moonscape yard in which every available square inch of planting space is waiting for watermelon seeds to grow, and the pain in the neck of washing and sharpening a huge knife twice daily, the good part is…I don’t know, something about lycopene and prostates. No silver lining for me.

Hey, have I mentioned the great part about having friends who happily let my kid play with their kid, the results of which are 1) happy kids, 2) happy friend who can basically ignore children playing well together and spend a couple of hours doing whatever they want to around the house, and 3) a blissful return to a time when my toddler naps and I have time to write? Well, I just enumerated them, so consider the great parts mentioned.

So the score, if you’re playing along with our Fantasy Humanity League, is Summer 225, Me Infinity. (It’s new math, so let me give you the formula: annoyances are one point per day and time alone in the middle of the day is infinity points.)

How’s your summer score looking? Not that you keep score, of course. But if you did.

Eeyore by necessity

Sleep deprivation makes you cranky, fat, and dangerous.

It also makes you gloomy.

Take a look at this finding, reported in a New York Magazine feature that is, as far as I can tell, the same as the third chapter in Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman:

“Perhaps most fascinating, the emotional context of a memory affects where it gets processed. Negative stimuli get processed by the amygdala; positive or neutral memories get processed by the hippocampus. Sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus harder than the amygdala. The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories yet recall gloomy memories just fine.” (p. 3 in the NYM article linked and p. 35 in the book)

Great. Fat, grumpy, and incapable of retaining joy.

I can’t wait to hang out with me, ‘cuz that’s a winning combination.

(On a related note, how do I not have a category titled “Holy Guacamole, I Need Sleep!”? My first didn’t sleep through the night until he was over Three. The second is not exactly on the fast track to quiet nights, with or without ear infections, teething, and gobs of physical exertion. So I filed this under everything except Yoga. I’m too tired for yoga.)

(Also? Go read Nurture Shock. There are chapters on praise, sleep, race, lying, gifted programs, siblings, teenagers, self-control, social skills, and language; all compelling, well written, clear, thoroughly researched and revelatory.) I’ll leave the superlatives to the cover matter, but suffice it to say I will finish it before I finish The Pale King. That’s huge, given how little reading time I have and how much I want to read DFW’s final novel. Go get it. Library, local bookstore, friend…I don’t care. Read. This. Book.)

A plea for sleep

Dear goddess of babies who wake every two hours:
Thank you for passing my child off to the next goddess. I appreciate your care in those first weeks. I don’t miss you. I’m sure you understand.

Dear goddess of babies who wake every three hours:
We’ve spent a lot of time and effort with my children, oh goddess. My first child was in your care for three-plus years before you handed him over to the goddess of children who sleep all night. So I’m thinking you need a break. You’ve had responsibility for my second child for nigh on five months, and I’d like to ask that you relinquish him to the goddess next door. I know he visited with the goddess of babies who wake every five hours a few times last month, and you can see he did fine there. Your extra care and nurturing should be for newer babies who need the extra milk. Bring him next door, please.

Dear goddess of babies who wake every four hours:
Please don’t be home when your neighbor, Three Hours, comes knocking.

Dear goddess of babies who wake every five hours:
I’m calling on you, oh goddess because your wonderful, growth-inspiring nurturing is just what my son needs. Keep your eye out for Three Hours and greet her if Four Hours isn’t home. Please accept the care of my dear baby. Please watch over him and let him sleep, uninterrupted, for five hours twice a night. Help him grow and develop in whatever ways are right for him.

Unless you’re caring for too many wonderful babies. Then pass him on to the goddess of children who sleep all night. I won’t tell Three Hours, who seems to have taken a shine to my whole family. He’ll be fine with All Night and I’ll be over the moon. False idols, nothing, I’ll create a whole shrine to you.