According to “they,” children between ages one and five are supposed to sleep about twelve hours a day, give or take. “They,” however, have not had a chance to discuss this with Girl and Boy yet. I wish they would. Boy slept away his early months, rarely cracking an eyelid or giving us a glance before nursing and going back (or, really, continuing) to sleep, sleeping something like twenty-two hours a day. Girl gave up napping at two and a half and hasn’t napped in months, not even when she has been sick.

Even given their approaches to sleep, today was a whole different thing. Yes, Girl had a fever last night, said, “I’m too tired to eat!”, and fell asleep on the bed at 6 in her clothes. Yes, Boy wouldn’t go down for his nap, so he was asleep at 6:45. An early night, given that they’ve been falling asleep at 8:30 or 9:00 lately (and sleeping until 8, too, I should add). A moment of calm. Their daddy had been out of  town for a few days, and when he arrived home a little after seven, the quiet house was a shock.

It didn’t last long enough. Girl coughed and cried some, rousing herself from sleep, and then was happy to see her daddy, holding onto his hand with a strength that belied the effects of her fever, even as she lay with her head on my chest, coughing more. A little after two in the morning, she was coughing even more, and I took her to the shower, hoping the steamy air would soothe what ailed her so she could sleep.

Instead, it seemed to rouse her a bit. To backpedal, I tried to sing her back to sleep, scratch her back – whatever I could do while not waking her brother. Like my first bike, however, backpedaling brought the brakes on, and any sleeping she’d thought of doing came to a pink-Schwinned halt. She’d already had eight hours of sleep. When she saw her daddy again, it really was all over. She wanted to sleep next to him. She wanted to put her head on his shoulder. Sure, she’d go to sleep, she said..

“Daddy!” Boy shouted, springing to his feet in the three o’clock hour and throwing his arms around his daddy. Ah, now no one was sleeping. (Well, maybe the cats still were…)

And just to fast forward: there was no more sleeping. Their daddy went back to bed because work requires some semblance of together-ness, but for the rest of us, there was much frustration (that was mostly me: how hard could it be for them to just go back to sleep – and let me sleep, too?). By four-something, I conceded, and we watched Word World (I still love it!) followed by Classical Baby: The Dance Show. Twice. She ate an apple, he ate grapes.

He napped from almost 8 until 9:45. He wouldn’t nap in the afternoon. (To be fair, he may have, had it not been for the less-than-helpful kissiness, leaning-over-my-shoulderness, and general distracting nature of Girl. How is it that such things, which, under other circumstances, would be so endearing, can be so distracting?) She did not nap at all, though not for lack of my effort.

He went to sleep around 5:30, maybe 5:45 tonight. He was toast (the “oops, I sure left that in the toaster too long!” kind).

And Girl? She was asleep at 7:00. Just to make this clear: she was awake from 2:15 in the morning until 7:00 at night! Nearly seventeen hours. How is that possible? The fever seemed to fade away to nothing, and all that was left was a mad desire to stay awake, logic and sleepiness be darned.

Sleep is good. At some point, we realize that, often when we’re least able to get it. Sleep was in front of them, served up on a platter, steaming and fragrant. Mmmm, sleep. I could almost taste it. Was it not appetizing to them? Did I inadvertently try to serve Girl a steaming pile of mashed potato-esque sleep? (And what IS the deal with her cough? How much do I need to worry?)

I’m hoping for a better night tonight.

Once I get more sleep, I’m looking for “they”;  I hope “they” can set my children straight on this sleep thing. If you’ve seen them, would you send them my way? While you’re at it, would you throw in a few extra hours of sleep? Rest assured, I’ll put them to good use.

This is what nighttime should look like.

This is what nighttime should look like.

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