As daughters age, sleeping arrangements get changed

  • Sunday, October 13, 2013

My family of five lives in a three bedroom, two bath house, which means that as long as we have had three kids, two of them have been sharing a room.

When my youngest daughter, Sadie, was born, I let Emma, the middle child, choose where she wanted to sleep at night for the first few months. She was almost 3-years-old so getting to sleep with her big sister, Aubrey, in a big girl bed was a real treat. Emma got one chance to stay in the room with Aubrey, if she got up out of the bed, she headed back to the crib. I wanted it to feel like moving to a big girl bed was her choice and I didn’t want Emma to feel like Sadie had booted her from her room.

It was a fairly smooth transistion — if you don’t count roughly 1,800 hours of playing Whack-A-Mole with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.

When we moved to Mississippi, Sadie was still in a baby bed so Aubrey and Emma continued to share a bedroom. Both of them were a little bit older, so there was less Whacking of The Moles and more sweet conversations as they drifted off to sleep, curled towards each other in their matching twin beds. But once Sadie graduated from the baby bed to a real bed, it seemed a little ridiculous to let the 4-year-old have her own room.

Aubrey was almost nine-years-old and starting to crave a little privacy. As her personality emerged, I saw her hiding in quiet corners of the house to read, looking for somewhere to be still and left alone. Emma and Sadie still wanted to dress up, play extravagant make believe games and they were crowding their big sister.

Sadie cried every night at bedtime, “I don’t want to be aloooooooone.” Just so you won’t feel too badly for her, there were hardly ever any tears, just more drama than a middle school production of “Grease,” you understand?

I tucked the big girls into bed one evening as Sadie wailed from across the house. Aubrey said, “Momma, you really should just have another baby. It would solve all of our problems.”

“Oh, please, do tell,” I prompted her.

“Well, then everybody would have a partner to sleep with and Sadie wouldn’t have to be alone,” she replied.

“And I would never be alone again as long as I live. I’m not sure that’s the answer Aubrey,” I said.

So we made a change, Sadie and Aubrey switched places. Aubrey graduated to a room of her own, Emma became Boss Queen of the little girls’ room and Sadie was super excited to no longer be alone in her bedroom at night.

I was super excited to not have to listen to Sadie’s overly dramatic wails at night, until the first night everyone was settled into their new spaces.

I kissed Emma and Sadie goodnight and as I started to walk out of the room, Sadie began carrying on, “I don’t want to sleep aloooooooone.”

I was almost giddy when I said, “You’re not alone. Emma is right here. In the same room with you, see?”

Sadie paused for a heartbeat, looking at her sister only a few feet away. She took a deep breath and wailed, “I don’t want to sleep in this bed alooooooooone.”

Sadie is a Bedtime Drama Queen. Actually, she’s an All Day, Every Day Drama Queen, but she really does her best work after dark.

She can’t sleep because:

“I need to do my yoga first.”

“I don’t have any water.”

“There’s no ice in my water.”

“There’s too much ice in my water.”

“I’m scared in da dark.”

“Da wamp is too bright.”

There is no solution — simple or complex enough — to getting this kid to go to sleep without drama.

This past weekend Emma asked to sleep in the den. I wasn’t sure why a night on the sofa was so appealing to her until Sadie started dragging her pillows and blankets into the den as well.

Emma started crying real tears, “Momma, why is she coming in here? I wanted to sleep by myself.”

Here I thought Emma was wanting to do a little adventure sleeping and she just wanted a night off from Sadie’s wailing.

I apologized and made Sadie understand that if she couldn’t be quiet and go to sleep that she couldn’t stay in the room with Emma.

Sadie made a big show of getting her blankets just right, she tucked Ellie the Elephant into her covers and started her evening’s monologue with Emma. I could hear them while I brushed my teeth in the bathroom.

“Emma, I’m scaaaaaaaaared,” Sadie tried.

“No you’re not. Be quiet,” Emma snapped.

“I’m hot,” Sadie whined.

“You’re in your underwear. Take off your blanket and stop talking to me,” Emma said.

“I can’t go to sleep until Ellie does and she won’t close her eyes,” Sadie explained.

I could feel the fury building in Emma like steam and her next response came out in a hiss, so chilling, it gave me goosebumps.

“Ellie can’t close her eyes because they are buttons. Do not talk to me again,” Emma hissed, in a voice so calm and terrifying that Sadie didn’t make another peep. I think Emma is going to be in charge of bedtime from now on.


Robin O’Bryant is an author, humorist and speaker. Her latest book is “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves.” Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and visit her blog at www.robinschicks.com.

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