bedtime at the circus

Did you know that a circus moved in to my house?  Well, it did.  Last weekend we boldly moved the Littlest upstairs to join her brother in what is now the “big kids” room.  What I didn’t know is that this little girl has invited the circus to be big kids, too.  I’m pretty sure a herd of elephants has been practicing a special show up there, just for the occasion.

It has been a tough, and loud, transition.  I’ve really just wanted to give up, to keep her little just a bit longer.  Silent tears slipped down my cheeks as I made her bed that first night, tugging sheets and tucking blankets around a mattress that swallows up her pea-body.  (Yes, I’m prenatally hormonal, but still).  But the pride that swelled in her puffed up sleeper pajama body is strong and contagious.  My ambivalent feelings I’m sure have not helped the situation.

That fist night it took about two and a half hours of circus jumping from the little ones, with a strong amount of riot-act reading on the part of us grown ups, and eventually everyone fell asleep.  A few interruptions during the night made me continue to question whether this was the right timing.  The Eldest still doesn’t sleep all that well and though I’m hopeful the presence of his little sister to keep him company will ease some of his nighttime anxieties, I’m not convinced that it won’t have the opposite effect, resulting in sleep for nobody. The second and third nights went about the same.

The fourth night I separated them again — the Eldest had had a fever all day and I knew that we all needed real deep and resounding rest.  And we got it.  It made moving her back up again last night that much more painful, though.  I have questioned my timing of this move: maybe she’s not ready, maybe in a month or two it’ll be easier.  But I have a feeling that this is one of those situations that needs to be approached like a band aid: just do it quickly, and let those growing pains do their thing.

I laughed out loud a lot that first night — such imaginations these two have!  Such over-tired energy!  The Littlest is such a risk-taker, all she needs is her big brother laughing hysterically at whatever line she is crossing, and she has all the encouragement she needs to jump headlong into curious trouble.  Though both kids can tout the rules, loudly and emphatically, I’m pretty sure our enforcement means nothing.  “Stay in bed! Stay quiet!” they both shout in unison.  Which, again, leads me to believe its those silly elephants at it again.

We are witnessing their friendship plant deeper roots.  We are watching as they learn who they are in relation to the other, especially without my husband and I there to intervene and change the dynamics.  This is special, and it has absolutely nothing to do with me, which is really freeing.  And here is where my lesson in all of this chaos is:  I have to let it go.  Let it all go.  Let them figure it out.  I have to let the circus move in for a few days, or weeks, or a month even (really?  a month? please not a month).

This is brand new territory, physically and otherwise, for us and for them.  To the Littlest, this room is a whole new space for sleeping, and she needs to be given loose enough reins to explore it physically, in her own time, in her own way.  She needs to jump off the bed, in every direction, to make sense of how her bed fits into the room, how she fits into this room.  She needs to run from one end to the other, to look under things, pull things off shelves.  I can’t do this for her; I can’t command her to do this, either.  The Eldest needs to figure out how to be a good example without being a boss.  He needs to learn how to give up a little control in the room that he has structured for himself, and in the routines that mirror it.  He needs to give up some worry, in exchange for some loving company.  This all will happen in the time and space of bedtime.

It is not about some arbitrary bedtime goal (they must all be asleep by 8:00pm and not a minute later!)  It is not about what I think bedtime should look like.  It is about them trying on different ways of doing this, together, and figuring out how to make it theirs.  I need to take myself out of it.  I have provided a safe, secure, snuggly and warm sleep-inducing environmnet for them.  They rest is up to them.

Circuses are happy occasions, full of wonder and excitement, derring-do with ooo’s and aahhh’s.  This one is no different.  Who doesn’t love a circus?  Tonight I’m going to grab my popcorn, because I’ve got front row seats to this one.

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8 thoughts on “bedtime at the circus

  1. We will be joining the circus in about one month when Gus moves downstairs with Ry to make room for #3. I’m terrified none of us will sleep for the next 6 months and that Ry will smother Gideon in his sleep.

    But you are giving me hope 🙂

  2. This is so sweet, Campbell! I relate to everything you said. We have had our kids sharing rooms since they were tiny and it HAS been challenging at times. At one point when we had 3BRs, i had to put THREE little kids in the same room so I could be up and around with the newborn without starting a circus. Man. Recently we moved my oldest out of his circus, into a room by himself, and it was very tough for him. It was the first time he was alone that he could ever remember. So, there will always be noises a lot later than you want, when they share rooms, but I think they grow up feeling loved and friended!

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