Sleep Is For the Weak, Oh Yes It Is
Tuesday, sometime before 4am with a 30 minutes snooze around 6.30am.
That's when Charlie has woken up for the past few nights and I guess I should feel lucky that it's just been two nights. I mentioned this to another mother at Charlie's school while we were waiting to pick up our kids and she told me her son wakes up at 4am everyday. (And that she—impressive to me, being the sort of mom who pulls out a bagel and some fruit for breakfast—has made pancakes and eggs before 6am.) (I can't make pancakes, most end up slightly burnt.)
Charlie waking up so early is indeed a relatively new phenomenon. Most of his sleep problems have had to do with the falling-asleep-part. When he was about 7, Charlie started having a lot of trouble going to sleep and, by the time he was 9, he would often toss and turn for hours before finally conking out around midnight at the earliest. Mornings as a result became fraught with unpleasantries, as it was next to impossible for Charlie to wake up in time for the start of school. The morning became increasingly frantic as Charlie got bigger and the old, not really effective but what can you do, strategy of carrying him out of the bed and loading him into the car was rendered impossible. Much of last year—when Charlie started school his earliest ever, at 7.45am—was devoted to figuring out a way to wake up Charlie in as non-intrusive a way as possible, and we did find that playing music (the Beatles) and turning on the lights were fairly gentle ways to wake him. (Not that many a morning was not without its fireworks.)
We've got several explanations running around here as to why Charlie has been waking up so early. He knows that this is a short week at school with a big holiday on Thursday and my mom and dad are visiting: Two big changes in his and our routine. His anxiety about leaving his old school and starting at his new school and remaining at the new school are leading to the early wake-ups, as if Charlie, having found things all right after one week, is wanting (on both conscious and unconscious levels) to make sure that he still has a school, and that school in particular, to go too. On top of that, he's started sniffling and coughing and being congested, while exhausting, can make sleep not so easy.
Despite those early wake-ups, his Monday and Tuesday were pretty good. Monday ended with him getting upset and Tuesday started with a bout of crying. Both times he pulled off the helmet and, not that I needed a reminder, but I wrote to his case manager asking when is the Functional Behavior Assessment that should have been done last May if not last October going to be scheduled? It's certainly time to start a discussion about this potentially explosive topic and, while we have way too many feelings about it, we most definitely don't want it all to descend into snippy exchanges. Charlie is apparently able to compose himself after getting upset so things don't escalate as much as they could: Ok, not huge progress, but we've learned that if you get baby steps, you take 'em and keep working at it, gently. And, because the teachers are the ones teaching him, we know this issue has to be addressed in concert rather than in contention. (That's the ideal, at least.)
Later on Tuesday another student got very upset and Charlie and his classmates went on a walk and then into another room. I got the sense that he was agitated, but that was all. Certainly Charlie has long been sensitive to the emotions of the other children in his class, and someone else crying has upset him not only and not always because of the noise, but because, on hearing someone else feeling bad, Charlie does too.
Tuesday night Charlie took himself to bed at quarter after 6 and was asleep before 7pm: Good. I, not knowing of course when he might wake up, planned for another early morning of it.
It's something I've been appreciating. I am actually a morning person and have been making the most of these early wake-ups, reading student papers, writing emails, and making coffee while Charlie paces and asks about getting in the white car and, outside the windows, the dark fades away.
Indeed, some students, on noting that I've been sending them 5.15am emails, noted that I seem to be getting up at the time they're going to bed. Guess we all live in a slightly topsy-turvy world in which no one gets sufficient sleep.
As for me, with everything going on, I'd rather be awake and even the early bird getting the proverbial worm.
Charlie woke up around 10pm and got fully dressed, down to his socks. It's going to be some night.